Science and Society Minor has a Successful Start

Science and Society Minor has a Successful Start
Doris Bitler and Walter Rankin in the Science and Society reading area

The close of the fall semester 2007 marked the successful end of the inaugural course in the new Humanities and Social Sciences minor, Science and Society. Fifteen students completed Introduction to Science and Society, one of two required courses for the interdisciplinary minor, which allows students to develop individualized concentrations in areas that focus on the intersection of science and society. Examples of the students’ proposed concentrations include Art, Science, and the Human Body, National Security, and Management of Medical Research. These concentrations include courses from across all of the university’s colleges and institutes.

Doris Bitler and Walter Rankin, who co-direct the minor, taught the 200-level course. Bitler and Rankin intentionally developed the Science and Society minor to be driven by student input, allowing the program to realistically reflect current student interests and respond quickly to changing developments in our local community and around the world. They were delighted to find that the students came up with many ideas that they had not previously considered.

“We wanted to develop the minor from the ground up,” Bitler said. “The minor has been structured to give students the flexibility and freedom to enhance their major, improve their career prospects, or simply pursue their personal interests.”

Members of the inaugural Science and Society class expressed a strong interest in staying connected with each other and the program throughout the rest of their academic experience. Bitler and Rankin hope to expand programming to include internships, field trips, and guest lectures that would be open to the entire Science and Society community.

Student response to the course was overwhelmingly positive. In the course evaluations, comments included:

  • “By far one of the most interesting courses I’ve taken!”
  • “Very engaging and open. It’s great how we can all share ideas and express our own interests and personalities”
  • “I loved the class talks, debates, papers, exams, readings, and guest speakers. I would recommend this class to someone in a heartbeat.”

The only recommendation students expressed was that the class periods were too short and needed to be longer.

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