HIST 395 - Advanced Seminar
Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, or 15 credits in history, or consent of the instructor. Prerequisites may vary by topic. A seminar offered from time to time depending on student interest and staff availability, in a selected topic or problem in history. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Winter 2018, HIST 395A-01: Seminar: The Scientist as National Hero (3). We discuss the place of science and its practitioners in Western society, from the time of the Victorian professionalization of science until today, and focus on the formation of a 20th-century elite of Nobel laureates and their role in national politics and, to a lesser extent, international affairs. How/why have some scientists gained extraordinary leadership status in our culture? How/why have some become national heroes, a few even international ones? Can scientists provide the moral and political leadership to deal with the challenges in society that their very successes have created? (HU) Rupke.
Winter 2018, HIST 395B-01: Seminar: Animal Behavior and Human Morality (3). We trace the history of the study of animal behavior in its bearing on human morality, from the beginning of the professionalization of the subject around 1800 until the present day. Often, tentative connections have been made between the ways animals behave and how humans conduct themselves, thus conferring legitimacy on shared traits. Issues of gender and sexuality traditionally have been at the forefront of these considerations. Animal examples have also been used as the basis of arguments for and against institutions of marriage, family, slavery, systems of government (monarchy, republic, etc.), war, aggression, altruism, and more. (HU) Rupke.
Fall 2017, HIST 395A-01: Darwin and his Critics: the History of Evolutionary Biology (3). HIST 295A is for all class years and all majors. HIST 395A is for history majors, with additional required writing and research. The theory of organic evolution is widely considered one of the greatest discoveries of modern science, impacting science and society alike. By and large, the theory has been identified with Darwin and his famous On the Origin of Species. Yet, to what extent is Darwinian theory a cultural construct rather than a factual discovery? In opposition to orthodox Darwinians, such as Ernst Mayr and Richard Dawkins, there have been many critics, ranging from intelligent design advocates in the Anglo-American world to structuralist evolutionary thinkers in the Germanic world, the latter often allied to liberal Christianity. (HU) Rupke.
Fall 2017, HIST 395B-01: Science, the Paranormal and the Supernatural (3). HIST 295B is for all class years and all majors. HIST 395B is for history majors, with additional required writing and research. This course explores the fascinating history of the uneasy relationship between science and its contested boundaries where fact and fiction overlap. In modern - especially late-modern - times, science has become the adjudicator of truth - truth in terms of fact and law-like rationality. The result has been a retreat of the occult, of many superstitions, and the uncovering of fallacies and frauds. Yet large sectors of modern society have remained enamored of the paranormal. Even scientific practitioners themselves, including Nobel Laureates, have kept alive a belief in telepathy, precognition and such-like phenomena. Equally persistent, especially in religious circles, has been the conviction that miracles do happen; and, again, great scientists and medical practitioners have supported these and similar notions. More recently, the study of “wonders” has emerged as a separate field of inquiry: anomalistics. (HU) Rupke.
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