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Data-Driven History of Science - Spring 2017

An introduction to the history of science for undergraduates, covering the Greeks to the early twentieth century. Has a particular focus on the use of data as evidence in order to build reasoned arguments and analysis.

I taught Data-Driven History of Science - Spring 2017 (HIST 160) in Spring 2017 at the University of San Diego.


Syllabus LMS


Introduction to the Course for Students

History and science have a great deal in common, whatever you may have been taught previously. In particular, both emphasize the importance of data and evidence combined with rational analysis in order to posit answers to key questions about the world we live in. Additionally, success in both—once you’ve achieved a certain level, anyway, which many undergraduates have yet to experience—requires analytic writing, critical thinking, and effective writing.

In practice, of course, there are also key differences, two of which are (1) it is difficult or impossible to conduct a historical experiments and (2) history often deals with qualitative questions and answers, while science prefers the quantitative.

With these similarities and differences in mind, HIST 260 will cover key developments in the history of science and technology from the Greeks to the present day. Data, evidence, and analysis will be key. History is valuable in and of itself in making you an engaged and informed citizen; this class will also connect the past with the present to help you see the value and importance of what we discuss. I do not expect you to be either a historian or a scientist. I do expect you to actively participate and engage with the material and the class.

Selected Texts