Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Bruce W Hevly
HIST 312
Seattle Campus

Science in Civilization: Science in Modern Society

Growth of modern science since the Renaissance, emphasizing the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the development of methodology, and the emergence of new fields of interest and new modes of thought.

Class description

This class will focus on three major topics in the history of modern European science, all subjects of interpretive contention, with emphasis on both command of a working narrative and the critical skills involved in reinterpreting it. Those periods are: the Scientific Revolution of the early modern period, the production of natural knowledge in the Enlightenment, and the definition, establishment and professionalization of science in the nineteenth century, with examination of the idea of scientific discipline. We will deal with developments in the sciences of astronomy, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, geology and terrestrial science more generally, and natural history, including the creation and acceptance of Darwin's theories particularly. Most attention will be paid to history of Britain, France, Germany, and the United States.

Student learning goals

Understand a basic narrative of the history of science in Europe from c. 1500 to c. 1920, and understand some of the limits on such narratives.

Understand the history of science as distinct from the story of science; in particular, understand the process of putting science in historical contexts.

Locate and interpret values and practices of objectivity, progress, experiment, explanation as they relate to science in particular contexts.

Be able to understand a selection of interpretive strategies applied to particular episodes by particular historians of science, as presented in class work.

Be able to make an original argument in the history of science, based on limited resources available within the framework of a survey course.

Develop a historical sense of the idea of a Scientific Revolution, an Enlightenment, Romanticism in terms of their origins and meanings.

General method of instruction

Daily lectures with some class discussion, Monday through Thursday. Friday sessions focus on interpretation of primary sources, review of historical argument, and development of writing skills. This is not a W course, but a W option will be offered for those who would like to undertake more serious writing.

Recommended preparation

This course assumes no background in European history, history of science, or science; it is an introductory course. Familiarity with any or all of these may be of some use, but none is required. Good basic study skills -- reading, notetaking, critical response -- will be emphasized.

Class assignments and grading

Fairly extensive reading assignments in secondary and primary sources (four or five books over the course of the quarter, plus an essay and a short primary source reading per week.) Short writing assignments, with multiple options for completion over the course of the quarter.

Two midterm examinations and a final exam.

Short essays based on assigned readings; no outside research required.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Bruce W Hevly
Date: 11/03/2010