BIOL 210 (Fall)

Perspectives of Science

(also open to Biology students as an elective)

L. Lefebvre
(514) 398-6457
3 credits (3-0-6)

The goal of this course is to allow you to read through a series of papers in various sciences, listen to a series of conferences, take a series of science courses (for most of you, in the Minor in Science for Arts or the Science for Teachers majors) and obtain and transmit the maximum amount of information concerning them: what is going on in terms of content, purpose, process, form and human activity; how is consensus about a particular scientific issue built or destroyed? You will be required to attend and summarize a series of public lectures in the Faculty of Science, as well as read a series of papers taken mostly from the journals Science and Nature.

1. Introduction: myths, community and consensus in science.
2. How scientists communicate with the general public.
3. How scientists communicate with other scientists.
4. The scientific method.
5. How scientists gather the facts required to test their questions.
6. Traditions, institutions and biases in science.
7. What if something goes wrong? Checks and balances in the system.
8. Conclusions
1) Collins, H. & Pinch, T. The Golem: What you should know about science. Cambridge University Press, 1998, Second edition. (paperback Canto edition)
2) Lecture notes on myCourses
Two lectures per week, plus 4 conferences in different science departments.

Mid-term, final examination, conference reports

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

Last update: March 21, 2017