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LAI639: History and Philosophy of Science - Public Content

By Dr. Randy Yerrick

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What is science? How is it most accurately portrayed by those outside as well as within the profession? This course is designed to examine what it means to practice science. Carrying out such a task will require us a group to challenge traditional stereotypes, examine what we really "know" about science, juxtapose several varied perspectives on the problem at hand, and continually pursue a justifiable depiction of what it means for our students to "act like scientists." The answers to our question, “What is science” will vary widely depending upon the audience to whom the question is posed. If we are to take accept the perspective of Sharon Traweek Bruno Latour or Jay Lemke, scientists would give us one answer to our question, “What is science?" and presume that we either understood their answer exactly how they stated or it or assume it was impossible for us to grasp the meanings they intended. However, several ethnographic researchers would argue that implicit in their answers are certain cultural characteristics intended to convey certain mystiques about the work itself. Teachers on the other hand would offer quite a different answer to our questions for a very different set of reasons. For this reason it is very important that we consider a variety of answers from science education and other related fields, paying close attention to "whom" is answering our question.