The Concentration

This week’s featured program is the concentration in Science, Medicine & Society at Grinnell College. From the website:

Humans are innovators.

The telescope. The printing press. In vitro fertilization. Science, technology, and medicine have shaped society for millennia. Examining their complex history across the humanities, social studies, and STEM disciplines will help you develop your critical and creative thinking skills. You’ll pursue knowledge and your own interests in one of two tracks: science and technology studies or health, medicine, and society. You’ll also get ample opportunity to practice articulating your ideas and communicating clearly as you develop a public presentation based on work done for the concentration. All of which is great preparation for careers in many fields such as journalism, business, public health, medicine, and nonprofits.

Regardless of which track students choose to pursue, they must take the introductory course: Critical Studies of Science, Medicine & Technology. Within each track, students choose a core course and 16 credits’ worth of electives. 

Two Interesting Courses

Science & Technology Studies Track

HIS 281 Science and Society

This course focuses on the rise of modern science in Europe and the Americas from roughly 1650 to 1900, exploring how revolutionary developments in the physical, biological and human sciences were connected to profound changes in the social and political world, such as the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution, new forms of imperialism and statecraft, work and leisure, democratic politics, and the growing emphasis on racial and sexual difference.

BIO 301 History of Biological Thought

This seminar course will consider how biological theories emerge and change in a complex environment of empirical knowledge and social/political concerns. Areas of study may include reproductive biology, evolution, genetics, ecology and conservation, and medicine.

Health, Medicine & Society Track

ANT 210 Illness, Healing, and Culture

This course examines beliefs about illness, healing, and the body across cultures. We will examine how the body, illness, health, and medicine are shaped not only by cultural values, but also by social, political, and historical factors. The class will draw attention to how biomedicine is only one among many culturally constructed systems of medicine.

PSY 345 Psychopharmacology

An investigation of the biological mechanisms and behavioral effects of psychoactive substances. Topics covered will include principles of pharmacology, research methods in psychopharmacology, mechanisms of drug action, drug abuse and addiction, and clinical applications. Required laboratory work using animal models will focus on the use of behavioral tools to characterize drug effects and the use of pharmacological tools for understanding brain-behavior relationships.

Five Possible Complementary Majors at Grinnell College

Unique Opportunities within the Concentration

All students in the concentration are required to make a public presentation:

As a capstone experience, students are required to make a satisfactory public presentation on a meaningful project, paper, community-based learning experience, creative performance or installation connected to their coursework for the concentration. This presentation is meant to provide an opportunity for students to reflect upon, and integrate, key insights they learned from their work in the concentration. In consultation with their adviser, students will develop a topic and submit a plan for their presentation to the concentration chair by the end of pre-registration the semester before their graduation.

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