The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"History of Western Science & Technology": History 181 (GenEd HS) Fall 2019

Students will live together in James Hall in the Southwest residential area. 

Read what Fall 2019 instructor Shay Olmstead has to say about the course:

Welcome to the Scientific Thinking RAP course History 181: History of Science and Technology!

This course investigates Scientific Thinking by examining Western science and technology from the Scientific Revolution to the Cold War through a social and cultural lens.  Over the course of the semester, we will read about, research, and discuss the following questions:

  • What is “science”? Who are “scientists”?
  • How does science happen?
  • How has science changed the way we see, interpret, and understand the world around us?
  • How has science been used to explore, explain, and predict the human condition?
  • How has the state promoted, regulated, and utilized scientific inquiry?

In exploring this topic, we will do three things:

  1. Learn about some of the key scientific ideas, discoveries, and players of the modern age
  2. Critically examine science’s historical interaction with culture, politics, and religion
  3. Build important critical thinking, logic, research, and organization skills.

By the end of the semester, students should be able to critically evaluate, analyze, and otherwise engage with both primary and secondary sources and discuss their thoughts with their colleagues in a lively and respectful manner. 


"Intro to Philosophy": Philosophy 100 (GenEd AL) Fall 2019

Students will live together in Knowlton Hall in the Northeast residential area. 

Read what Fall 2019 instructor Patrick Grafton-Cardwell has to say about the course: 

"Scientific practice is aimed at expanding our understanding of the world, both of what is actual and what is possible. It is also aimed at expanding our control over the natural world, over ourselves, and over each other. In this class we will try to get a better grip on what scientific thinking is and what it should be by exploring some of the following questions:

  • What can we know?
  • Do we have free will?
  • Is there an ideal way for the human body or mind to be?
  • What is science?
  • What is a good life?
  • What is the meaning of life?

We'll get at these kinds of questions by means of philosophical writings, science fiction literature, and film, allowing both rigorous argumentation and written and visual storytelling to provide the fuel for a discussion-based community-learning environment where together we discover the philosophical foundations for scientific knowledge."

Scientific Thinking RAP