Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Science in the News
This seminar has two objectives: to encourage students to read some of the more accessible survey literature and original literature about the most current issues in the sciences and to understand the relevant scientific questions raised in these articles. The primary materials for our discussions will range from reports in the popular media (e.g., The New York Times and The Economist) to non-specialist scientific media (e.g., Scientific American and Science) to other informative sources available on the web. Possible topics include diseases such as avian and swine flu, HIV infection, SARS, and malaria; environmental issues including climate change, atmospheric pollution, and catastrophes such as the Gulf Coast oil spill and radioactive material release in Japan after the recent tsunami; future energy sources; human evolution and genomics; stem cell research; nanotechnology; cosmology; and the research associated with the Nobel Prizes that are announced in October. Once the basis for our understanding of the scientific questions involved is established, we will also get into discussions of ethical, moral, and policy issues.