Science & Society modules

The Science and Society modules encourage social studies and civics classes to examine the relationship between biology and democracy. This relationship is all the more interesting because democracy is inherently political in nature, while science is empirical . Democracy places power in the hands of the citizens through the exercise of majority rule while respecting minority rights. Science then presents democracy with ideas that have demonstrated their value through testing and experimentation.

  • Introduction to Science and Society ModulesThis brief PowerPoint module (11 slides) is recommended to be shown to students before any Science and Society module is used in class. The presentation stresses that the modules take no positions on the questions posed by the particular module, but are meant to act as springboards to student discussions of those questions.
  • Banquet at Delmonico’s shows how easily science can be incorrectly politicized. By recreating an incident in American history at the Spenser Banquet, students examine the contemporary controversies over evolution through the prism of history which shows that many different factions have supported evolution when it was politically advantageous.
  • The Consenus Conference  is a role playing module that requires several class periods. Students recreate a method that has been developed for the lay public to deal directly with scientists without the interlocutor of politics such as happens in the common legislative hearings and the mass media.
  • The Effect of Ecology on the History of New England is a module based on the award winning book by William Chronon, Changes in the Land. This ecological history of colonial New England examines the interaction of coloniosts and Native Americans from an ecological perspective. Teachers can borrow NOOKs containing the ebook version of the book and guided reading worksheets.
  • The Semmelweis Paradox is a module consisting of a Powerpoint presentation,timed for a single class period, that examines resistance to new scientific discoveries in history. It examines the beginning of antiseptic techniques in the early 1800’s and follows their implementation up until the present day. The presentation could be used as an introduction to a classroom discussion, or a writing or research assignment.
  • The Stirrup Conundrum is a module consisting of readings and worksheet materials. The module examines the technical expertise of the Roman Empire, specifically the Roman Army. The module asks students to question why the Romans resisted the adoption of so simple a device as the stirrup, even as they faced increasing pressure from masses of nomadic cavalry troops.

Future modules will continue to encourage students to explore where empirical scientific theory  and democratic political reality will intersect.

We also have introduced independent student inquiry on topics related to science and society, now and throughout history.