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Society and Science:

Issue of Life & Death and Issues of War & Peace

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Do humans act in their best interests? How can citizens in a developed or developing society evaluate and favor scientific evidence over beliefs, assumptions, and myths? How do individuals balance demands from various communities—families, schools, workplace, neighborhoods, cities, regions—to which they belong? As we create new solutions, we are often confounded by both expected and unpredictable problems that arise.

Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.  ~Lise Meitner

Scientific discoveries lead to solutions and improvements in all areas of everyday life, yet society must evaluate ethical concerns to make decisions regarding rights, safety, and human development.

How do we and our communities behave in the face of scientific facts and advancements? For instance, science argues for global action on climate stability and renewable energy, but various demands—practical, political, economic—are often at odds with evidence on environmental sustainability.

This course will explore how society and human behaviors intersect with contemporary issues in science. Topics for study and class discussion will include genetically modified food, stem cells, genetics and social responsibility, sustainability, poverty, vaccines, and robotics. 

 In our discussions we will consider the following questions:

  • What is a society or community?
  • How can individuals shape society through ethical choices and behaviors?
  • How do individuals’ beliefs, opinions, assumptions, and habits conflict with societal change or progress?
  • How can individuals determine what is ethical while making decisions within different communities (as citizens, parents, consumers, leaders, employees, etc.)?
  • What role do social scientists play in influencing public debate and policy?
  • How do social scientists study human behavior and gather data on demographic trends? How can institutions develop policies that align with analysis of scientific evidence?
  • How can individuals and societies analyze and respond to issues of globalization?

All readings for this course will be available on Canvas - a cloud-based Learning Management System that provides online communitcation for students and faculty designed to be used online, on mobile and on tablet. 

Meg Harper, PhD

801 581-4581


 Society and Science: Issues of Life and Death

Fall 2020

Class # Subject Cat #  Sec Days/Time
-- LEAP  1101 004     TuTh / 10:45AM-12:05PM 



Last Updated: 1/28/20