Most students have already taken courses in the physical sciences,
the life sciences, and technology. Just last term most of you
learned about Global Geochemical Cycles. To understand their causes
and effects it is necessary to call upon nearly all the natural
and social sciences, as well as the humanities. The inquiry into
global systems should raise for you serious questions about the
limitations of scientific inquiry. We look to science for solutions
to problems, but science can not always address directly the moral
and social conditions in which these solutions must be placed.
Even if we have absolute confidence in scientific studies and
their results how might these results be applied to policy? How,
for example, can scientific results be weighted against economic
considerations and humane values?
It is a program priority for the Natural Systems Core curriculum to explore the limitations of science as well as its successes, methods and implications. This course will explore several new facets of that multidimensional subject we call "science." It is important to understand the historical, philosophical and sociological development of the sciences. How have these factors influenced our culture and, indeed, our very habits of thought? The framework of assumptions and beliefs are part and parcel of the paradigms of scientific thought and modes of operation. These paradigms both open science to new knowledge and limit its domain. The disagreements in science may often be more illustrative than consensus among scientists, because in debate it is possible to see clearly the limits to understanding, to instrumentation, to the accuracy and reliability of measurement.
We hope every student who takes WCP 222 will emerge with a clearer understanding of the life sciences in their evolving context. That every student will find scientific data more explicable and accessible. That every student will see that not only is a "systems" approach to nature a worthwhile study, but that the growth of scientific knowledge itself has interactive and emergent properties. Though the specific content of this course may vary from year to year--from issues in biomedicine and ethics, agriculture, biodiversity, human ecology, or the history of science--our unifying goal is to examine the characteristics and limitations of quantitative and qualitative reasoning and to examine how the products of various disciplines may best be integrated to provide meaningful solutions to issues in the world.
Interdisciplinarity & Questions the Course Addresses:
Our course integrates the biological sciences with social questions of the past and present. We explore the historical development of biology, not just the growth of biological thought and knowledge but also how society has influenced science as we practice it today. As well as learning about the personal lives of women and minority scientists, we also study the intricacies of their scientific personas. For a time, you are called upon to be both a scientist and educator.
This course affords us an opportunity to use a scientific discipline as both subject and object of reflection. What is biology? How did it come to be as it is now? What are its relationships to other disciplines? How did it come to have the particular subdisciplines it has? Who are practitioners in biology? What kind of future can be projected for this discipline? What is the relationship of biology to ecology and environmental studies, to ethics and concern for proper applications of scientific knowledge? How do debates arise and get resolved in biology? How are popular understandings of science and scientists different from reality?
The first half of the course explores questions of the origin and evolution of the life sciences themselves. After spring break we look at the relationship between the present state of the life sciences as they are practiced today and are likely to be practiced in the near future. Science policy and science education will be the means through which we will ask questions emerging from critics of the sciences. Can biology be made even a more humane discipline that it is? Will changes occur in the content of the sciences as women and minorities become biologists in larger numbers?
There is abundant opportunity for liberal education in this course. It is intended as an opportunity for students whose orientation is toward the sciences to interact with students whose chief interests are in the humanities or social sciences. Critical thinking will be encouraged by reading contrasting approaches and appraisals of the sciences. Writing and quantitative reasoning are also significant features of our work and each activity is designed to help students learn to reason and choose the better or best choices from the array of possibilities. The uses of primary sources and essays by theoreticians and experimentalists is conducive to critical reflection and learning. Understanding contexts is a goal of the Miami Plan for Liberal Education and of Natural Systems II. The course is organized to emphasize the history of scientific ideas and their evolution in specific national and ecological settings. Historical context will help answer the question, Why is biology as it is today? To understand the social context of science education we will experiment with multicultural approaches to biology education. The principle of engaging other learners will be a consistent goal of the course as we learn from each other in seminar. Many seminars will be led by students and learning from groups will be important in the development of education teams. Each member of the class is both a learner and a teacher. Sharpening learning skills positively reinforces teaching skills and vice versa. The fourth Liberal Education Principle, reflecting and acting, will be found both in the course and long after it is finished. We believe the learning students do in the course may have impact on their adult lives, as professionals, as adults concerned for children, and as citizens. We developed a course with deep roots in philosophical and scientific literature and worked to form a strong practical linkage with "life after college."
Attendance Policy: Participation is basic to active learning. Attendance is a necessary, although not a sufficient condition for participation. So come to class prepared to participate constructively. Chronically absent students obviously cannot participate in course activities and run the risk of being dropped from the course roster. READ and be SEMPER PARATUS. Attendance at lecture, seminars and all events are very important to us. We are especially concerned that students recognize the importance of attending the course meeting in which student evaluations are taken. We use the constructive help of students in planning subsequent courses.
Academic Misconduct : Please read Part V, sections 501-507 in the Student Handbook.
SEO Requirement : All Western College Program majors must have submitted a Statement of Educational Objectives to receive a grade in WCP Sophomore Core Courses.
Class Evaluations: All students will complete a final course evaluation.
Blaisdell, Muriel and R. Hays Cummins, Natural Systems II Reader: Critical Reflections on the Life Sciences.Miami University, Electronic Reserve.
Bowler, Peter J. Charles Darwin. The Man and His Influence . Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Gould, S.J. The Mismeasure of Man, W.W. Norton & Co.
Fox Keller, Evelyn , A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock, W.B. Freeman Publishers, 1983.
Jones, James H. Bad Blood. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment . New York: Free Press. 1993.
Vermeij, Geerat. Privileged Hands. A Scientific Life. W.B. Freeman, Publishers, 1997.
Teams of 3-4 (within seminar groups) will take as their goal to
illustrate--pictorially and with quantitative material-- essays
that are "words only". Each will present a group paper on process
including the participation of all group members, the reasons
for supplementing the text in the way they did, reasons why some
potential illustrations were rejected, quantitative points raised,
aesthetic considerations, etc.. Each project culminates with a
display and oral presentation.
Often, poster sessions are given in large symposia where there are too many people wishing to give presentations for each to give a separate talk. In settings like the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, poster sessions permit a great deal of information to be compressed into a small amount of time. It requires a careful distillation of the most important points and those that can be grasped visually, graphically, and holistically. It permits casual onlookers to gain a general understanding, and those who are very interested may inquire about details from the authors or read the whole study.
Poster Session Symposium
We will have a poster session for the whole class, perhaps on
the media night following the due date for the posters so that
each person can see all the posters. We'll try to have a reception
to celebrate the work each group has done.
A Quicktime Viewing of the Winners of the '99 Poster Symposium
Science Education Project:
A significant public concern is that children and young people
are not learning enough science and mathematics. Many recognize
that failures in science education start with the inflexibility
of traditional science pedagogy. Think back to the science courses
you had in high school. Most are taught as a collection of facts
to be memorized. Creativity rarely plays much of a role in science
teaching or learning. No wonder many feel disenfranchised and
There is additional concern that minority and female students are specifically being lost from the pool of potential scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. As our course materials familiarize us with the history, philosophy, and social aspects of the sciences we plan to bring this knowledge to bear on the development of an appealing science curriculum for all children, perhaps especially for those whose interests are not currently being cultivated.
Most scholars, regardless of their own area of academic interest, agree that intellectual excitement and stimulation comes not from passive acceptance of information transmitted from the teacher to the student in the classroom, but rather from the active involvement of the individual in the learning process. Quite simply, we learn by doing. In the spirit of discovery-oriented science, a significant component of the course will be the development, by student teams, of discovery-oriented experiences that may take place in the classroom, lab, or field, that are suitable for middle-school, junior high, or high school students. We will write curricula and plan activities with these folks in mind.
Where does one start? First what are you interested in? How can these interests be developed into an experience that you can share with a younger age group? How will you avoid the pitfalls of a rote science experience? Your group will develop your own questions, design methods, write your own text, run your own lab or experience, gather and analyze data, and present the results to the class while continually keeping your audience in mind.
We are able to use the Western Duck Pond, the woods behind Peabody, Bachelor Preserve, Hueston Woods, Four Mile Creek, and local fossil outcrops as our laboratories. There will be about 5 science-education projects per seminar. Each group will decide upon a question, research literature relevant to your question, decide upon the best way to address the question given available time and resources, and write a project [lab, field, classroom experience]. The authors of each project are responsible for the success of the experience. You will need to provide data sheets, introductory material, and try to make adjustments for unanticipated events.
Upon completion of the project, authors will interpret the results and, towards the end of the semester, give a presentation about their findings. The final project write-up will include the documents for your class or lab experience, the literature used to develop it, descriptive and analytic writing about the curriculum writing process. Your write-up should be your own answer to "critiques of the life sciences."
It should be both explicitly and implicitly "friendly to minorities and women (girls)." You may have experience with research and with sharing that in a laboratory, but this time DIVERSITY is a special concern.
Need Equipment! Search The Science Center Equipment Database!!
If you are ready, you can Enter Your Own Science Education Idea, etc Topic NOW . Or, you can respond to a particular topic submission! Perhaps you have some insights that can help! To do so, browse the works in progress by clicking on the topic area of your choice. Then add your response!
Natural Systems, Education Project Submissions
Search for Submissions Entered....
Examine Progress Reports .....
|since I last visited||Visit the Progress Report Page|
How is your research going? Are you on schedule? How many times did you sample this past week? Any problems? Concerns? New discoveries? How is your "Research Completion Plan" coming along? Please feel free to browse by clicking on the research topic area of your choice. If you are ready, you can Enter Your Own Research Progress Report NOW . Or, You can view all the Research Progress Reports!
Here are links to a large database, the Library of Congress, the Miami library, and WWW search engines.
Search a Database of Science Links!
There is a large database of links at this site. The Database concentrates on tropical ecology, global change and weather, greenhouse warming, and natural resources.
Enter some key words to search by:
Find pages with of these words and return results.
Detailed Results Search Phonetically Begins With Searching
What's New: Past Day Past Week Past Month Last Update
How did you learn about nature? What were your earliest memories
learning about nature? Were there both positive and negative experiences?
How were your scientific skills and scientific information expanded
when you were in grade school, junior high, and high school? How
do you think about science now? If you are aiming for a college
emphasis in the sciences, what are the issues you think are most
important? If you are aiming for an emphasis outside the natural
sciences what relationship do the sciences have in the field you
have chosen? Have you ever been "math anxious" or "science phobic"?
If the answer is "yes", what did you do about your anxiety? What
are the most important scientific problems being worked on in
our time? Why do you think these are the most important? If you
could contribute to the solution of a particular problem what
would it be? Look here for an example of a science autobiography from one of your professors.
Molly & Karla looking for fossils in an Ordovician outcrop in Indiana. Spring '97
One important aspect of a life in science is that of learning from nature. We will collect and study our collections as scientists have been doing for several centuries. We will be both recapitulating the experiences of such naturalists as Charles Darwin, and bringing recent sensibilities into the experience as well.
Alisa, Megan, Natallie and Andy celebrate Natallie's find of several echinoderm calices! Spring '97
Although not as well known as Darwin, Barbara McClintock was a biological pioneer in plant genetics and winner of a Nobel Prize for her work on genetic transposition. The importance of her work was recognized years after her field work was done when confirmed by laboratory-based [male] geneticists. Geerat Vermeij is physically blind but scientifically insightful. His new book Privileged Hands presents his own story. This autobiography relates evolution to conchology and his own experience of learning to see with his hands. We have the chance to see in the experience of the research subjects of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments the intrusion of race and class bias on the practice of science.
This course gives each person a chance to see the "human face" of science, not only reflected by Darwin, McClintock and Vermeij, but also reflected in your own mirror.
group project paper + individual process accounts group project paper + individual process accounts
Final Examination 20%
Curriculum Project 20%
Poster session 15%
Science Autobiography 10%
Short Writings 5%
group project paper + individual process accounts
group project paper + individual process accounts
Consistent with the Writing-Across-the-Curriculum commitment writing will be evaluated for both form and content. The course will involve Quantitative Reasoning. Please note the quantitative information required by the autobiography, poster, and project. Other opportunities for quantitative reasoning will be presented throughout the term.
February 23--Media Night
Posters & Papers Due
March 18--Thursday Seminar
Fossil Field Trip
March 20--Depart 9:00 am
March 23--Media Night Science Center
Women in Science Educators Panel
April 13--Media Night
Other Writing and Quizzes
(To be announced)
Science Currriculum Project
Finals Week--To be announced
12 Seminar Welcome, Introduction, and the Syllabus
13 Lecture Biology's Beginnings [mb/ hc]
14 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Readings
|Reader Week I
Charles Darwin, pp 1-32
19 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Reading
20 Lecture: Scientific Biography: Charles Darwin [mb]
21 Seminar: Discussion of Readings
|Reader: Week II
Charles Darwin, pp. 33-125
26 Lecture: Evolution and Natural Selection [hc]
25 Seminar: Student Initiated Conversation
27 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Readings
|Reader: Week III
Charles Darwin, pp. 127-220
2 Seminar: Student Initiated Conversation
3 Lecture: Applications of Evolution to Human Development [mb/hc]
4 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Readings
|Reader: Week IV
Mismeasure of Man, pp 62-175
9 Seminar: Student Initiated Conversation
10 Lecture Feelings for Organisms: Alternative Science [ mb]
11 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Readings
DARWIN'S BIRTHDAY--FEBRUARY 12
|Reader: Week V
Feeling for the Organism, pp. 1-77.
16 No Seminar: Monday Classes Meet
17 Lecture : Jumping Genes [hc]
18 Seminar: Student Initiated Conversation--
|Reader: Week VI
Feeling for the Organism, pp. 78-138
From: A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock. By Evelyn F. Keller. W.H. Freeman and Company
23 Seminar: Student Initiated Conversation
24 Lecture: No Lecture: Recovery Time
Examination-- Media Night: 7:00 p.m.
|Reader: Week VII
Feeling for the Organism, pp. 139-207
2 Seminar-- Student Initiated Conversation
3 Lecture: The Knower and the Known [mb]
4 SeminarDiscussion of Lecture and Reading
|Reader: Week VIII
Privileged Hands, pp. 1-149
|Spring Recess--March 6-14||-|
16 Lecture: Conchology [hc]
17 Seminar: Poster Session
18 Seminar--Poster Session
Fossil Field Trip-- Saturday, March 20, 9:00 a.m.
Prepare for cold or inclement weather.
|Reader: Week IX
Privileged Hands, pp. 151-272
From: Privileged Hands: A Scientific Life. By Geerat Vermeij. W.H. Freeman and Company
23 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Reading
Media Night, Tuesday MARCH 23 POSTER RECEPTION
24 Lecture: Who Succeeds in Science [mb]
25 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Readings
|Reader: Week X
Mismeasure of Man, pp.176-204,
30 Seminar: Guest: Alexander Echols, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
April 1 Lecture: Blood and Blood Related Diseases [hc]
2 Thursday, Discussion of Lecture and Readings
Scientific Autobiography Due
|Reader: Week XI
Bad Blood, pp. 1-90
6 Seminar: Discussion of Readings
7 Lecture: Scientific Racism [mb]
8 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Reading
|Reader: Week XII
Bad Blood, pp. 91-187
13 Seminar: Discussion of the Readings
Media Night: PanelWomen Leaders in the Sciences
14 Lecture: The Biology of AIDS [hc]
15 Seminar: Discussion of Lecture and Readings
|Reader: Week XIII
Bad Blood pp.188-241
April Senior Project Conference, April 20-23
20 Seminar: Discussion of the Readings
21 Lecture: Biology and the Culture of AIDS [mb]
22 Seminar-- Curriculum Projects Due
|Reader: Week XIV|
27 Seminar: Project Presentations
28 Lecture: Reflections and Evaluation [mb & hc]
29 Seminar: Project Presentations
|Catch up and Review|
The Western Pond Swans show off some of their feeding strategies in this Quicktime Video Check out the final report of the "Swan Study."
In this age of Climate Change, see a Quicktime movie of the Great Meltdown (209 Boyd Hall) as the ceiling collapses during the recent January thaw!
Table of Contents
The Antecedents of Scientific Thought
The Place of Biology in the Sciences
Foundations of the Modern World View
Principles of Geology (1830-33)
Charles Darwin's Notebooks
On the Races of Man
General Summary and Conclusion
Autobiography of Charles Darwin
Out of Africa
Future Evolution of Homo Sapiens
Experiments in Plant-Hybridization
Revolt from Morphology II Heredity and Evolution
The Origin and Behavior of Mutable Loci in Maize
A Profile of Undergraduates in the Sciences
Women in Science and Engineering
Career Pattern of Women and Men in the Sciences
Week XIII & Week XIV
How HIV Defeats the Immune System
Viruses Launch Their Own "Star Wars"
The Long Shot
Hot fusion of HIV
New Hope in HIV Disease
Reexamining AIDS Research Priorities
AIDS Related Infections
Prevalence of AIDS-Related Risk factors & Condom Use in the United States
Defeating AIDS: What will it take?
HIV 1998: The Global Picture
Improving HIV Therapy
How Drug Resistance Arises
Viral-Load Tests Provide Valuable Answers
When Children Harbor HIV
Preventing HIV Infection
HIV Vaccines: Prospects and Challenges
Avoiding Infection after HIV Exposure
Coping with HIV's Ethical Dilemmas
Click if you'd like to learn about our instructor and student generated labs, independent research & publications, the natural science database, opportunities for field research, writing in the sciences, the Julia Rothermel Peer Science Center, and tutor responsibilities.
Weather & Other Cool Stuff!
Tropical Ecosystems Courses
Any mail, comments or suggestions? You can Add to the Guestbook ,View the Guestbook or e-mail Muriel Blaisdel or HaysC@miamioh.edu.
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