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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HUMN 3991: Issues in Science and Society

This course examines the effect of science on society through the use of sample readings and websites, and by encouraging students to discover their own collection of resources on science in modern society.

The course begins with a summary of the historical development of scientific ideas; then examines the advances, functions, and implications of science in society. The discussion includes social forces that can lead to misuse of science and/or science fraud and focuses on current and future controversies in life sciences and technological innovation as examples of the influence of science on daily life. The powerful presence of science in society raises a number of questions that the course explores: What is science? Is science truly objective and autonomous? How does-and how should-society use science?

This upper-level course requires a significant amount of reading, eb research, independent work, and conference-based discussion. This course is suitable for students completing degrees in disciplines such as science, engineering, humanities, fine arts, social science, education, business, and general studies.

Learning outcomes

  • Define key concepts about science.
  • Explain the importance of scientific literacy.
  • Describe significant developments in the history of science.
  • Provide examples of the effect of science on the natural world and human society, and the effect of human society on science.
  • Demonstrate reading comprehension and fact analysis.
  • Utilize the Internet to research information about science
  • Identify the effect of societal influences on science.
  • Identify forces affecting the public perception of science.
  • Analyze and discuss factors influencing scientific objectivity.
  • Locate online sources about how society influences science.
  • Locate basic information about controversies in life science on the Internet and in the library.
  • Evaluate opposing opinions and identify biases about current topics in life science.
  • Analyze and discuss contentious issues in the life sciences.
  • Locate basic information about controversies in technology on the Internet and in the library.
  • Evaluate opposing opinions about current sections in technology.
  • Analyze and discuss contentious issues regarding technology.
  • Balance the potential benefits and risks of new technology.

Course topics

  • Unit 1: Philosophy of Science
  • Unit 2: Environment & Society
  • Unit 3: Science & Religion
  • Unit 4: Science, Society & Biotechnology

Required text and materials

The following material is required for this course:

  1. Okisha, Samir. (2016). Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-0-19-874558-7


To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory project.

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 15%
Assignment 5 - Online Discussions 15%
Final Project (mandatory) 30%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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