Course: Biology and Politics

 HC 441H

Professor: Gabriel Yospin

Scientific information plays a major role in nearly every government policy decision. In many instances, science becomes a part of policy with minimal discussion. At other times, the role of science in policy decisions is controversial. How should scientific information be a part of policy decisions? How should science influence politics? How should politics influence science? How should laws and regulations cope with incomplete or inconclusive science? Is scientific information objective? Apolitical? Neutral? Or is scientific information value laden, political, and biased? What makes scientific information credible? Who has the standing to speak for Science? What is Science?

This class provides an opportunity to examine these questions, and further related topics. We do this through open discussion, where all participants bring their own perspectives on these issues, as well as contemporary events related to the course. There are three phases to this course. First, we examine acid rain as a case study in the development of a scientific idea and regulatory policy. With this case study in mind, we bring together foundational papers in the philosophy of science, sociology of science, and works on science, policy, and politics. Finally, we attempt to use all of this information to answer questions about what science is, what scientists should do, and the role for science in society.