Research Experience for Science Majors

Instructor Name: 
Erik Bodegom
Course Description: 

This Capstone takes place over the winter and spring terms.  Students enrolled in Research Experience for Science Majors will develop an understanding and appreciation for scientific, societal, economic, political, and ethical dimensions of science. This will be accomplished through group work, where a selection of readings will be the springboard for presentations and discussions.  Further work is tailored to the individual student and their research project. Students should contact Erik Bodegom as early as possible before the winter term to talk about that project.

 

 

Each group will tackle one of the following topics:

Scientific dimension: we will address the science needed to address the community partner’s need, ways of acquiring the missing knowledge, ways of presenting the final product that is inline with standard scientific practice (in the reading list see “Error analysis” and “Experimentation”)

Societal implications: too often science is done without any regard to its societal implications (see how scientists are trying to address this in the case of nanotechnology or how it failed in the case of genetically modified foods).

Economic dimension: we will address the issue of patentability, copyrights, and trade secrets.

Political dimension: see the readings from the newsletters from the “Forum on Physics and Society.”

Ethical dimension: the issue of fraud as exemplified by Woo Suk Hwang (stem cell research) or Victor Ninov (claimed to have produced two new elements and falsified data) and the ethics of scientists. The assigned readings (see: “Survival skills” and “Patents”).

Aesthetical dimension: the issue of presentation of scientific results and how this impacts funding and recognition; and the tension often felt between aesthetics and science.