Science and Society

Sci 10: An Integrated Course on the Natural Sciences for Non-Science Majors

Instructors:                                         Schedule:         MWF 2:30-3:30 p.m. SEC-C201A

Tony Basilio (ambasilio@gmail.com)                Credits:         3 units

Ted Limpoco (flimpted@gmail.com)                Pre-requisites:        NatSci courses

Course Description

The 20th century witnessed giant leaps in science and technology. Quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity completely overhauled our ideas about matter and energy, and of time and space. The discovery of the gene-protein link and the unraveling of the genetic code gave man the power to manipulate the very make-up of living organisms, including his own. And, for the first time in history, human technological activity on the mass scale has the potential to alter the face of the planet.

"Science and Society" (Sci 10) is the terminal course in the natural science core curriculum at the Ateneo de Manila University. It aims to situate and synthesize the student’s previous science courses within the backdrop of these contemporary scientific concerns and discourses. The scope of topics range from age-old human questions about origins, to more current issues in biotechnology, the environment, and sustainable development.

The approach is interdisciplinary and shall touch on concepts from the various sciences including physics, biology, chemistry, and earth and environmental science, as well as their sub-disciplines such as cosmology, material science, and molecular biology. The course shall consist of lectures and special seminars, readings, discussions, and written and oral papers.

Many issues we face today are scientific and technological in nature. The aim of this course is to help non-science students understand some of these issues and to form their own relevant response.

Objectives

By the end of the course, the student is expected to: (a) understand the nature of scientific practice and discourse that is common to the different disciplines of the natural sciences; (b) recognize and articulate the underlying paradigms in modern science (e.g., quantum theory, relativity, standard model of particle physics, central dogma of molecular biology, climate change), at least in qualitative terms; (c) deploy these concepts from modern science in thinking critically about contemporary social and environmental issues that are scientific and technological in nature; (d) formulate relevant responses that take into account both scientific and non-scientific aspects of these issues.

Textbook

MAC Cuyegkeng, ed, Stellar Origins, Human Ways: Readings in Science, Technology, and Society (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2011)

Schedule

Week

Module

Topics

1-4

Classroom policies, course requirements, grading system

Introduction

The practice of Science

Paper 1 (Dec 2)

Science and the scientific method, technology and national development, intellectual property rights

5-9

Technology and Lifestyle

Plenary Lecture 1: Technology and Lifestyle (Dec 9)

Innovation

Plenary Lecture 2: Innovation (Jan 6)

Midterm (Jan 16)

Telecommunications, nanotechnology, packaging, smoking, the modern diet, biotechnology

9-12

Environment and Sustainable Development

Plenary Lecture 3: Environment (Jan 20)

Climate Change

Plenary Lecture 4: Climate Change & Governance (Jan 27)

Paper 2 (Feb 13)

The state of the environment, biodiversity, solid waste management, climate change, sustainable development

12-16

Biotechnology

Origins of Life

Plenary Lecture 5: Origins of Life (Feb 15)

Origin of the Universe

Plenary Lecture 6: Origins of the Universe  (Feb 24)

Film Showing: Stephen Hawking’s Universe Part 1 (Feb 29)

Film Showing: Stephen Hawking’s Universe Part 2 (Mar 2)

Life and its origins, cosmology and the origins of the universe

17, 18

Summary and synthesis

Final Exam

Consultation Hours

By appointment only. Please call or email in advance.

Tony Basilio: 09164254549

Ted Limpoco: flimpted@gmail.com

Classroom Policies

Requirements and Grading System

The final grade is the weighted QPI average of the following:

Paper 1        

The Practice of Science

15%

Midterm

Technology & Lifestyle        

20%

Paper 2

Environment & Sustainable Development

20%

Activities

Various Topics

25%

Finals

Comprehensive

20%

...based upon the following scale:

A

92

3.75

B+

87

3.25

B

80

2.75

C+

75

2.25

C

68

1.55

D

60

0.75

Essays and oral presentations are graded according to the following general criteria:

A

Understands the material; analyzes it from various perspectives, including on the personal level; offers additional/original insights; presents the material within a clear, coherent, and integrated framework.

B/B+

Understands the class material; analyzes it from various perspectives, including on the personal level; presents the material in a clear, organized, coherent, and creative way.

C/C+

Understands the facts and key points of the class material, and dialogs with it on a personal level; presents it clearly and coherently.

D

Can reiterate the key points from the class material clearly and coherently.