New Minor Explores Science within Everyday Life

Posted: July 9, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

The popularity of top-rated TV programs like “CSI” and the Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” demonstrate that science is embedded in popular culture. Reflecting this trend, Mason has developed a new academic minor to examine the myriad ways science and society intersect.

Society and Science logo

Beginning this fall, Mason students will have the opportunity to explore the impact of science in their daily lives by pursuing a minor in Science and Society. This interdisciplinary program is offered through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS).

But this minor isn’t just for students interested in forensic science and the environment. It can also be a path for students interested in careers in health care, justice, ethics and national security.

According to Doris Bitler, associate dean for student academic affairs in CHSS and co-director of the program, the idea for the minor developed through “an increased recognition of the many ways in which science and technology affect our lives.” As Bitler explains, “Science is ubiquitous — from real world issues such as global warming, to [programs in] the entertainment industry. Science is everywhere.”

All students will begin the minor with CHSS 200, Introduction to Science and Society, which will provide them with a broad overview of related topics, helping them develop their individualized core of courses (15 to 16 credits). The unique group of core courses is selected from a pre-approved list with the help of the student’s minor advisor.

The list of core classes students can choose from ranges from ANTH 365 Race and Racism to PHIL 377 Darwin: Biology and Beyond, and from ENGL 492 Science Fiction to NCLC 378 Medicine, Justice and Public Policy.

“We’re really committed to developing the curriculum from the ground up,” Bitler explains. “Rather than telling the students what courses to take, we let the students tell us what areas they are interested in, and from there we can come up with their individualized curriculum.”

Once the core courses are complete, the students take a capstone course, CHSS 400 Perspectives on Science and Society, in which they demonstrate what they have learned through their course of study.

“I like the wide selection of core classes,” says Vanessa Tamangan, a sophomore psychology major who recently enrolled in the minor. “This new minor will give me the chance to continue and expand my interdisciplinary studies.”

A maximum of 9 lower-level credits can be applied to the minor, and no more than 3 credits can be applied to both the general education requirements and the minor. No more than two courses from a single department can be applied to this minor.

For more information, visit the Science and Society web site.

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