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

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laura J. Harkewicz
HIST 410
Seattle Campus

Medicine, History, and Society

Investigates the origins of aspects of contemporary life form vitamins, to giving birth in a hospital, bringing a historical perspective to topics including the politics of pharmaceuticals, the emergence of genetic determinism, and bioethics.

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. This course is aimed at students who would like to uncover the history behind the headlines and take the "longer view" of some of these issues. It will cover some basic facts and concepts, featuring 3 broad themes: 1) how medical knowledge was made, 2) technological contributions, and 3) the effects 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 take daily to giving birth in the hospital, bringing a historical perspective to bear on topics such as the politics of pharmaceutical patents, the emergence of the new genetic determinism, and way cultural 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 and how to use them

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

Some improvements in their powers of expression

A demonstrated grasp of scholarly citation technique

General method of instruction

Lecture, small and large-group discussions, some videos

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites for class

Class assignments and grading

Several writing assignments, in-class quizzes, participation, a final exam based on course objectives and to demonstrate grasp of course materials.

See assignment information noted above.


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: 02/05/2014