Summer Courses

Emergence of Modern Science

Summer 2014
Course Number: 
STSC 001 920
Monday 9:00am-11:30am
Friday 9:00am-11:30am


HSOC001920, SOCI033920
Primary Program: 
School of Arts and Sciences
Secondary Program: 
Pre-College Program
Secondary Program: 
Young Scholars Program
Course Description: 

Modern Science, perhaps more than anything else, makes our contemporary society unique in history. But where and when did modern science come from? What makes something scientific? Is science simply a stockpile of technique and knowledge that has accumulated slowly and steadily over the centuries? Has it been more reliable than other means of gaining knowledge? This course presents a complex and dynamic picture in which the history of science takes twists, turns and conceptual leaps in response to changing social, political, cultural, and religious interests, as well as shifting intellectual or scientific assumptions, methods, and forms of organization and presentation. The course introduces some of the major formative steps in the scientific tradition, each of which extended or overturned earlier ways of investigating and understanding nature. These include: Aristotelian natural philosophy and Galenic medicine; the Scientific Revolution of the 15th through the 18th centuries that ushered in Copernican astronomy, Newtonian physics, and new ideas about physiology and medicine; the Chemical and Darwinian Revolutions; and the rise of modern physics and biology. This course shows that our modern and familiar image of reality is not self-evident, and in fact did not come into existence until very recent times. Past conceptions of nature, and approaches to its study, often differed radically from our own. The course has no prerequisites, and is designed to be accessible to all students. It can serve students in the sciences by providing a historical context for scientific knowledge, and students in other fields by providing some knowledge of how science works and has worked in the past. The course fulfills sector requirements in humanities and social science (sector IV) and natural sciences and mathematics (sector VII)

The course listing presented here is subject to change. Please confirm all information on the the University of Pennsylvania Registrar's website or via Penn InTouch (PennKey required)