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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Bruce W Hevly
HSTAA 316
Seattle Campus

History of American Science

History of science in the United States, including migration of European science, development in colonial America, growth of an American scientific community, and expansion of American science in the twentieth century. Issues of scientific attitudes to the natural world, race, ethnicity, and gender are included.

Class description

This course provides an introduction to some of the main themes in the history of American science and the interpretations and methods used by historians of science in dealing with them. It deals in particular with the intersections of science and political values, including how science codified predicates for citizenship (e.g., the political stautus of Americans based on race, ethnicity and gender as understood through scientific lenses). It also takes up relationships among industry, academic institutions, and the state, as well as the questions of national versus regional contexts for science and the emergence of particular scientific disciplines in the US.

Student learning goals

Students should be able to construct a useful narrative of science as a subset of American history.

Students should be able to identify, produce and criticize historical interpretations, and recognize some of the interpretive problems distinctive to the history of science.

Students should be able to address questions of national styles in science, and point to useful alternatives.

Students should be able to describe the significance of contextual understandings of science, and the challenges of producing them.

Students should be able to produce a written historical argument using some variant on the essay form.

A W option will be available for those students who need to fulfill the University writing requirement.

General method of instruction

Lectures and in-class discussions (small groups, with instructor) on course readings and lecture themes.

Recommended preparation

This course assumes no background in American history, history of science, or science.

Class assignments and grading

Common readings in primary and secondary sources will be assigned. Students will complete short weekly assignments, drawing on assigned material for the course and from lectures, to review on an ongoing basis.

In addition to the writing assignments above, there will be two in-class examinations during the quarter, and a final examination.


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: 01/22/2014