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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laura J. Harkewicz
HIST 490
Seattle Campus

Topics in History

Examines special topics in history.

Class description

In the last few decades, medicine and the life sciences have become the locus for some of society’s most extravagant hopes and acute anxieties. History of Modern Medicine is aimed at students who would like to uncover the history behind the headlines and take the “longer view” of some of these questions. It will cover some basic facts and concepts, featuring three broad themes: 1) how medical knowledge was made, 2) technological contributions, and 3) the affects of existing philosophies, paradigms or political/social/cultural conditions. We will investigate the origins of aspects of contemporary life familiar to us all, from the vitamins we swallow down with breakfast to giving birth in a hospital, bringing a historical perspective to bear on topics such as the politics of pharmaceutical patents, the emergence of the new genetic determinism, and ways media representations of medicine and doctors inform our health care decisions.

Student learning goals

Mastery of the broad outlines of the history of scientific medicine

The ability to identify the 3 course themes (noted above) in the readings and lectures

An understanding of the difference between primary and secondary sources

The ability to analyze primary sources in their written work

An understanding of the issues at stake in writing the history of science

Some improvement in their powers of expression

General method of instruction

Lecture, group discussion, small group discussion, and activities.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites. Attend all lectures, read materials provided, take notes, do assignments.

Class assignments and grading

Course assignments will gauge students’ comprehension, encourage engagement with course materials, and promote in-class discussion.

Students will be responsible for class participation, in-class reading quizzes, 2 short papers that serve as preparation for the longer paper, one longer paper, and a final exam.


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 Laura J. Harkewicz
Date: 01/22/2013