William R. Orr
B CUSP 140
Offers introductory practice in laboratory and quantitative techniques, a history of one or more of the sciences, and reflection on the relationship between science and its function in the larger society. Topics vary. Offered: AWSp.
In this course, we will investigate the concept of evolution. Although we will examine the scientific notion of evolution in the context of Darwin and his theory of natural selection, we will go far beyond this. For example, we will examine unrealized evolutionary possibilities such as those exhibited by H.G. Wells fictional moon creatures. Believe it or not, these creatures have a lot to teach us about our own societal structure! Also, we will examine popular responses to evolutionary hybrids of flesh and technology through science fiction and films such as Gattaca, A Scanner Darkly and Bladerunner.
Student learning goals
a basic quantitative understanding of scientific practice and procedure
a firm grasp of the main concepts of Darwinian theory
an understanding of the far-reaching historical and societal consequences of evolution
General method of instruction
We will meet once a week for four hours, but the class will be divided into different sections to keep us learning with each other in a dynamic way. Our classroom time will be highly interactive, providing you with the opportunity to engage with the course material through reading, discussion, writing, multimedia production, presentations, experiments, on and off campus fieldwork, quizzes and a final project assignment. We will also use computer simulations, demonstrations, group work, creative writing, and visits to institutions such as scientific laboratories and museums to enrich the learning experience.
Curiosity. A willingness to take on difficult texts, to develop your writing skills and to practice our basic math skills.
Class assignments and grading
Each week students will be expected to come to class having completed the reading and ready to discuss it. There will be simple, weekly quizzes designed to determine whether students have been keeping up with the reading. Beginning the second week I will have each student submit two writing assignments on relevant passages of my choosing. Throughout the course, students will be expected to give two group presentations, one longer paper and a final project. The grading rubric will be discussed the first day of class. In general, I will balance writing assignments with a variety of other evaluative assignments.
On the first day of class I will explain in detail the specifics regarding the basis on which grades are assigned.