Science, Values, and Democracy

“We could no longer say that if we follow science, everything will be all right. We can’t just let science go along; we have to independently form an idea of what our values are, and then we have to use them to control how science is used. We in the humanities, who are concerned with values, should study science.” — Michael Friedman

“To work exclusively within the context provided by the sciences themselves is to ignore their vital context. The place of science in life, the place of its peculiar subject-matter in the wide scheme of materials we experience, is a more ultimate function of philosophy that is any self-contained reflection upon science as such.” — John Dewey, Context and Thought

Course Information

Official Course Number and Title: HUHI 7387: Science and Technology in Western Culture
Instructor: Matthew J. Brown
Office Hours: Wed 2:30-3:30pm in JO 4.120 and by appointment.

Course Description

This is a research-intensive seminar for PhD students working in, or interested in working in, history and philosophy of science, scientific humanities, or social and cultural studies of science, where science is broadly understood to include engineering, technology, and medicine. In particular, the focus of the course will be the role of human values in science and the role of science in democratic society. The course will be divided into two parts: In part 1, we will cover methods and frameworks for studying science historically, philosophical, humanistically, or socio-culturally, and for thinking about the interactions of science, values, and democracy. Part 2 will be organized around students’ research projects.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will gain a basic understanding of the major approaches to science, values, and society.
  2. Students will apply one of these approaches to a detailed research project.
  3. Students will be able to produce research that reflects the ability to aggregate, analyze, and use relevant evidence to support their argument.
  4. Students will produce a polished, near-publishable piece of academic writing.

Required Textbooks

Course Schedule

Part 1: Approaches to Science, Values, and Society

  1. How to Study Science as a Humanist (Introduction) – 8/25
  2. Labor Day – No class – 9/1
  3. Scientific Literature and Science in Action – 9/8
  4. Gender/Feminist Critique and Science – 9/15
  5. Values in Science – 9/22
  6. Science and Democracy – 9/29

Part 2: Research and Writing Workshop

This part of the course will be devoted to discussions of research methods, writing strategies, and workshopping your ongoing research. Each of the nine weeks will follow one of the chapters from Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks. You will need to follow all the activities and fill out all of the forms and boxes in this book as you read along, though you can use the online workbook forms where provided. Bring this book to class each week, as it will form the basis of our discussions and I will need to spot-check your progress. We will regularly discuss and present our ongoing work in class.

  1. Designing Your Plan for Writing (Week 1) – 10/6
  2. Starting Your Article (Week 2) – 10/13
    • How-To: Writing habits and software (and why I don’t draft in Microsoft Word)
    • Draft of paper abstract – Share with parter and turn in (bring 2 copies)
    • Model article – Turn in a copy
  3. Advancing Your Argument (Week 3) – 10/20
    • How-To: Advanced tutorial on library resources (w/ Linda Snow – meet at library)
    • Revise abstract around argument – Turn in (bring 2 copies)
  4. Selecting a Journal (Week 4) – 10/27
    • Presentations of journals
    • Journal review form – Turn in 3
    • Query letters x3 – Turn in copies
  5. Reviewing the Related Literature (Week 5) – 11/3
    • How-To: Bibliography software (w/ guests TBD)
    • Due: Related literature review with complete bibliography
  6. Strengthening Your Structure (Week 6) – 11/10
    • Model article outline – Turn in w/ copy of article
    • Your article outline – Turn in (2 copies)
  7. Presenting Your Evidence (Week 7) – 11/17
    • Notes on conversations with colleagues about evidence in your field – Turn in
    • Presentation on conversations with colleagues
  8. Thanksgiving break – no class, but don’t stop writing! – 11/24
    • Read & do exercises for Opening and Concluding Your Article (Week 8)
  9. Giving, Getting, and Using Others’ Feedback (Week 9) – 12/1
    • Exchange drafts w/ partner/group before and during the break
    • Send full draft to in-class group 48 hours before class, cc Prof
    • Full drafts – Turn in 2 copies
  10. Editing Your Sentences (Week 10) – 12/8
    • How-To: From writing papers to writing the dissertation (and other book-length scholarship), w/ special guests TBD
    • Bring a copy of your draft marked up using the Belcher Diagnostic Test (using color pencils or printed in color if done digitally).
  • Exam Week – No meeting, papers due electronically by 10:45pm on 12/15
    • Work on Ch 10 (Editing Your Sentences) and Ch 11 (Wrapping Up Your Article)
  • After the semester – Work on Ch 12 (Sending Your Article!)


  1. Research paper – 8000 words, with several mid-term milestones
  2. Weekly assignments, mostly from 12 Weeks
  3. Semi-regular, informal presentations of ongoing research & writing project.
  4. Participation in class discussion and workshop activities.

Course Policies

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