Week 1:

A How-To Guide on Blog Posting and Commenting

Week 2:

Diamond 1997- Yali’s Question

Blog Post: “Paragraph One: In your own words, how would you explain Yali’s question and its significance to someone? Paragraph Two: Is Yali’s question the type of question that a scientist or engineer would pursue? A historian or social scientist? Why or why not?”

Week 3:

Diamond 2005- Under Montana Big Sky

Blog Post: “Paragraph One: What types of environmental problems does the Bitterroot Valley of Montana currently face? Are these problems historical in nature? Why or why not? Paragraph Two: Do you think the Bitterroot Valley, in particular, and Montana, in general, offer good explanatory models for understanding the world’s environmental issues? Why or why not?”

Week 4:

Johnson, The Invention of Air, pp.1-116

Blog Post: “First Paragraph: Using a few sentences in your own words, how would you explain Steven Johnson’s “ecosystem theory” of science? In a couple more sentences, how does an ecosystem approach to the history of science differ from both Thomas Kuhn’s “paradigm” model and Joseph Priestley’s “cumulative” model of science? (located in pp. 38-48) Second Paragraph: Apply Johnson’s ecosystem theory to analyze one of the historical events that surrounded Joseph Priestley’s life, such as coffeehouse culture, coal deposits, measuring instruments, etc. That is, how did one of these external cultural, environmental, or technological forces influence the production of scientific knowledge?”

Week 5:

Johnson, The Invention of Air, pp.117-240

Blog Post: “In the epigraph (a quote at the very beginning of the book), Joseph Priestley states: “The English hierarchy (if there be anything unsound in its constitution) has equal reason to tremble at an air pump, or an electrical machine.” First Paragraph: Why should governments or religions fear air pumps and electrical machines? Explain your response with evidence from the second half of Johnson’s book. Second Paragraph: Does Johnson’s work shed new light on any current examples of scientific or technological research that also holds social or political consequences?”

Week 6:

Crosby, “Part I,” in Children of the Sun, pp. 1-58.

Blog Post: “First Paragraph: Why does historian Alfred Crosby assert that all of us humans are “children of the Sun”? Second Paragraph: How did fire, agriculture, and/or the Columbian Exchange alter the course of our evolutionary history?”

Week 7: 

Lusk 2013- Food Police

Chokshijune 2016- Stop Bashing GMO Foods

Hakim 2016- Doubts About the Promised Bounty of GMO

Blog Post: “First Paragraph: How does our discussion of approaches to history, particularly the past two lectures on the history of agriculture, help you analyze the contrasting readings on the contemporary use of GMOs? Second Paragraph: We will be having an agricultural economist coming to class on Tuesday; he would like to know, what are your biggest concerns when you hear about GMO crops? Why?”

Week 8:

Reidy 2015- The Strange Deaths, Varied Lives, and Ultimate Resurrection of John Tyndall

Crosby, “Part II,” in Children of the Sun, pp. 59-116

Blog Post: “First Paragraph: historian Alfred Crosby demonstrates that the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention,” or that consumer demand drives technological innovation, isn’t always true. In many historical cases, the opposite is more accurate: invention is actually the mother of necessity, or that new technologies open up the way for more and more consumption. Why was coal and oil initially extracted by human societies?  How did later inventions increase human demands for coal and oil? Second Paragraph: Today, you’ll often hear (from climate contrarians) that climate science is still in its infancy, too young to be reliable. Reading historian Michael Reidy’s article, is that statement even true? Why or why not? Third Paragraph: Name up to two (2) classmates (“don’t know” is also an acceptable answer if you don’t know anyone in particular) with whom would like to work with on the CS Podcast, and name your first or second choices of themes–agricultural science, climate science, modern biology, or modern physics.”

Week 9:

Kolbert 2011- Enter the Anthropocene

Steffen et al. 2007- The Anthropocene

Malm 2015- The Anthropocene Myth

Blog Post: “The International Commission on Stratigraphy is supposed to make a decision on the formal adoption of the Anthropocene epoch to the geologic time scale either this year or the next. First paragraph: if you had a vote on the commission, would you accept or reject adding this new epoch to the geological calendar? And in your opinion, when should it begin (if at all)? Use evidence from the readings to back up your decision. Second paragraph: many of our political, economic, and cultural institutions developed during the relatively-stable climatic conditions of the Holocene (which are no longer), do you think they are resilient enough to adapt to the Anthropocene? Why or why not?”

Week 10:

Spring Break

Week 11:

Darwin- Recapitulation and Conclusion

Blog Post: “First Paragraph: According to Darwin, what role do humans (“man”), geography (“the distribution of species”), environment (“the physical conditions of life”), and sex have on evolution? It might be most appropriate to provide direct quotes (with cited page number) to back up your points. Second Paragraph: How did Darwin’s treatise change the ways that people were thinking about the origins of species?”

REMINDER:  Podcast outlines are due, on Tuesday, March 21st, by 10 AM. We recommend reaching out to your teammates again via email or phone to coordinate your project. A sample template is located under the “syllabus and resources” page on this website. Individually, please upload a .docx or .pdf file about your section to the assignments folder on D2L/Brightspace.

Week 12

Charles Davenport 1911- Heredity in Relation to Eugenics

Herbert Spencer Jennings 1923- Undesirable Aliens

Henry Laughlin 1922- Eugenical Sterilization

Blog Post: “First paragraph: Outline a contemporary issue that invokes biology to justify certain social, cultural, economic, or political ends–such as immigration, health care, gay marriage, etc. Second Paragraph: Using lectures and readings, discuss how history helps you analyze the issue you chose.”

Week 13:

Specter- DNA revolution- National Geographic

Harris and Darnovsky- Should Gene Editing Be Done on Human Emybros- National Geographic

Blog Post: “Both of these articles suggest that CRISPR technology is both exciting and terrifying. First Paragraph: Pick one (1) example from the readings and discuss its exhilarating and frightening aspects. Second Paragraph: How are the issues surrounding your CRISPR example similar to and/or different from historical biological applications?

REMINDER: On Tuesday, April 4th, we ask that you bring a working draft of your podcast scripts to class as we will be workshopping the pieces. The podcast scripts are due, individually, to D2L/Brightspace on Thursday, April 6th, by 10 a.m. (Please refer to Steps 3 & 4 in “A How-To Guide to Create A Podcast” for details).

Week 14:

Frayn, Copenhagen, pp. 3-94

Blog Post: “First Paragraph: Why did German physicist Werner Heisenberg visit his Danish colleague Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in 1941? Second Paragraph: Scientists are supposed to be above politics, to engage a topic through neutrality. Yet they obviously deal with politically-charged issues. What is their responsibility as scientists? How should they balance their commitment to objectivity with their very human engagement with ethical dilemmas?”

Week 15:

Crosby, “Part III,” Children of the Sun,  pp. 116-166

Military-Industrial-University Complex

“First Paragraph: Since fossil fuels are finite, non-renewable resources, and with human-induced climatic changes intensifying, historian Alfred Crosby explores humanity’s possible energy futures with a historical examination of nuclear fission and fusion. Historically speaking, what have been the prospects and perils of this energy source? In your opinion, is nuclear energy a viable energy source–politically, economically, socially–for the 21st century? Why or why not? Second Paragraph: Research universities (Montana State University included) played an increasingly important role in what U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex” during the Cold War. What are the similarities and differences in what Vannevar Bush and Eisenhower had to say about the connections among academic scientists, private businesses, and the armed forces? Does the “military-industrial-university complex” still exist today? What function does it serve since the Cold War is technically over? What do you see as the merits and pitfalls of continuing this close connection?”