A detailed description of the course can be found here.
In modern life, science is everywhere. The products of biomedical science and technology may help achieve a healthy society and economic progress. They may even prolong life and make it more agreeable at the same time. But how much do we really know about the production, implementation and evaluation of scientific knowledge? What, exactly, is the basis for our belief in science? What sets it apart from common knowledge? Who should we trust in case two scientists disagree in a hotly debated issue? Is science a vocation or just another profession? Is scientific knowledge something special to be emulated, or ‘just another opinion’? Are scientific facts discovered or socially constructed? How are science and technology embedded in society and how do they change over time?
Whoever wants to become a scientist, should be aware of these and similar questions; (s)he should not just know about the contents of scientific knowledge, but about its context as well. This course sets out to create that awareness. Until recently, it was only available to PhD students. Now, an abridged version is offered to graduate students. In six Friday afternoon sessions, the historical, philosophical, sociological and ethical dimensions of the biomedical sciences will be discussed.
For those of you who are interested in a public debate that is now going on with regard to science and the university, see www.scienceintransition.nl and http://www.wetenschapsagenda.nl/.
The course will be assessed by means of a writing assignment: you will be asked to submit a 1500 word paper on any topic, related to the theme of the course.
You will write an argumentative essay: one in which you discuss a controversial issue, take up a position and give supporting arguments aimed to persuade your readers to accept your claim(s). It is different from the types of text that you may be used to writing (lab reports, research papers) in that the writer has a clear voice – he or she is present in the text, which allows for (or indeed, requires) a considerable amount of creativity and personal choice. You may use a variety of sources, both scholarly and popular (newspapers, magazine articles).
Your essay will be graded on the basis of the following criteria:
Literature/study material used
- information: detailed, accurate, relevant
- structure: rigorously argued, logical, easy to follow
- interpretation: evidence of independent thought and critical analysis
- use of evidence: key points supported with evidence, critically evaluated
- academic referencing: good use of academic referencing conventions
- style & use of language
Three articles, taken from the Golem-series by Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch:
- ‘Introduction: the Golem’ and ‘The Germs of Dissent: Louis Pasteur and the Origins of Life’ in: Collins and Pinch, The Golem. What You Should Know about Science
(Cambridge UP 1993), 1-3 and 79-90.
- ‘ACTing UP: AIDS Cures and Lay Expertise’ in: Collins and Pinch, The Golem at Large. What You Should Know about Technology
(Cambridge UP 1998), 126-150.
- ‘Vaccination and Parents’Rights. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), and Pertusis’ and ‘The Themes Revisited’ in: Collins and Pinch, Dr. Golem. How to Think about Medicine
(The University of Chicago Press 2005), 180-204 and 205-224.
In addition to these articles, speakers will provide one or two articles on the topic of their lecture. When possible, we will send an email with these attachments before the meetings, so that you can prepare the topics to be discussed. Students should print the documents themselves.
Please register before 1 January by sending an email to Ms M. van Dijk-Okla: firstname.lastname@example.org
, including the following information:
- Email address
- Home Address
- Zip code and City
- A short motivation
The maximum number of students is 25.
All Master’s students of the Graduate School of Life Sciences are welcome to attend the course. There is, however, a maximum capacity of 25 participants. Should there be more applicants, the final 25 will be selected on the basis of their application letter.
You are expected to be an active participant, i.e. to prepare the topic and to take part in the general discussion.
Mandatory for students in own Master’s programme
Optional for students in other GSLS Master’s programme
Bachelor’s degree and admission granted to a GSLS Master’s programme