Themes

Students in both the adjunct major and the minor are expected to develop a theme to guide them through their studies. A theme is not rigidly defined and not every course must fit the theme precisely; but students should demonstrate that the bulk of their courses form a coherent program.  Examples of themes are given below, and include: “medicine and society,” “technology and social change,” “science and gender,” and “religion and science.”  For example, students interested in “medi­cine and society” might explore the interaction of medical knowledge and practice, medical ethics, and the boundaries between sickness and health. But students are always free to come up with their own theme, in consultation with the SHC director.

So remember: 1) other themes are possible, 2) the courses used to fulfill any particular theme can vary, 3) many courses not listed below may count toward fulfilling the requirements of the adjunct major or minor, and 4) almost any theme might include some of the general courses (listed in the “General courses list” section) in the history, philosophy, or sociology of science and medicine.

Also, students are allowed to redefine their theme as they pursue their course-work in SHC; after all, if we all knew all the answers (and our interests) in advance, there wouldn’t be much point in an education!  What matters is that the student, when coming in to fill out their petition to graduate, can provide a one paragraph explanation of the theme that links the bulk of their courses.

Here are some popular themes:

Medicine and Society: This theme explores the interaction of medical knowledge and practice, medical ethics, and the boundaries between sickness and health. Topics might include: the authority of the physician, the role of the hospital, the social dimensions of racial and gender differences, and changing conceptions of disease and healing. This theme might be of particular interest to those students planning to attend medical school or public health school. It could include such courses as:

  • Anthropology 315: Medical Anthropology
  • Anthropology 332: Anthropology of Reproduction
  • Anthropology 390: Topics in Medical Anthropology
  • Classics 342 Early European Medicine
  • Economics 307 Economics of Medical Care
  • Gender Studies 250: Gender Issues in Science and Health
  • Gender Studies 332: Gender, Sexuality, and Health
  • Global Health 301-304: Various Global Health Seminars
  • History 275-1: History of Early Modern Science and Medicine (17th and 18th centuries)
  • History 275-2: History of Modern Science and Medicine (19th and 20th centuries)
  • History 377: History of American Medicine
  • Humanities 220: Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society (co-listed as Sociology 220)
  • Philosophy 269: Bioethics
  • Philosophy 326: Philosophy of Medicine
  • Sociology 220: Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society (co-listed as Humanities 220)
  • Sociology 355 Medical Sociology

Science and Gender: Here the focus is on the ways in which science has been used to define the roles of women and men in society. What has been the impact of medicine and technology in the realm of reproduction? Why have scientific definitions of human sexual difference changed so much in the past 200 years? And is it right to say, as some scholars have argued, that men and women bring fundamentally different viewpoints to the study of nature? This theme might appeal to students in a wide variety of disciplines, including Women’s Studies. It could include such courses as:

  • Anthropology 315: Medical Anthropology
  • Anthropology 332: Anthropology of Reproduction
  • Anthropology 354: Gender and Anthropology
  • Gender Studies 250: Gender Issues in Science and Health
  • Gender Studies 332: Gender, Sexuality, and Health
  • History 275-2: History of Modern Science and Medicine (19th and 20th centuries)
  • Humanities 220: Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society (co-listed as Sociology 220)
  • Sociology 216 Sociology of Sex Roles
  • Sociology 220: Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society (co-listed as Humanities 220)
  • Sociology 319: Sociology of Science
  • Sociology 355: Medical Sociology

Science, Technology, and Society: This theme examines the social, political, and economic dimensions of technological change. Technology has been touted as the panacea for poverty and inequality; and blasted for devaluing human labor, destroying the environment, and producing weapons of mass destruction. What are the sources and ramifications of technological change? In what ways do the technologies of mass communication shape our political life? This theme might appeal to students interested in technology policy, as well as students from Tech and Medill. Courses might include:

  • Communications 229: Communication Technology
  • Communications 329: Rhetoric of Science and Technology
  • Economics 323-1,2: Economic History of the U.S.
  • History 325: History of American Technology
  • History 375-1,2: Technology: History, Society, Economy
  • History 376-1: Science and Utopian Thought
  • History 392: Capitalism and the Pursuit of Happiness
  • Philosophy 367: Philosophical Issues Concerning Technology
  • Political Science 204: Politics and Nature
  • Political Science 371: Environmental Politics
  • Sociology 312: Social Basis of Environmental Change

Philosophy of Science: This theme treats both the question of what constitutes the scientific method, and the philosophical implications of scientific theories. It might appeal to philosophy majors, or to those science students who wish to explore the philosophical underpinnings of their discipline. Courses could include:

  • History 275-1: History of Early Modern Science and Medicine (17th and 18th centuries)
  • History 275-2: History of Modern Science and Medicine (19th and 20th centuries)
  • History 300: Law and Science: The History of an Encounter
  • Philosophy 254: Scientific Method in the Natural Sciences
  • Philosophy 268: Ethics and the Environment
  • Philosophy 269: Bioethics
  • Philosophy 325: Philosophy of the Mind
  • Philosophy 326: Philosophy of Medicine
  • Philosophy 352: Philosophy of Mathematics
  • Philosophy 354: Philosophy of Natural Science
  • Philosophy 355: Scientific Methods in the Social Sciences
  • Sociology 319 Sociology of Science

Science, Religion, and Values: In recent times, commentators have emphasized the conflict between science and religion, whereas earlier thinkers often saw the two as complementary or interdependent forms of understanding. This theme addresses the complex relationship between scientific knowledge and religious belief. It might appeal to students curious about the interplay of faith and knowledge. Courses could include:

  • Humanities 220: Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society (co-listed as Sociology 220)
  • Philosophy 268: Ethics and the Environment
  • Philosophy 269: Bioethics
  • Philosophy 326: Philosophy of Medicine
  • Political Science 204: Politics and Nature
  • Political Science 371: Environmental Politics
  • Religion 373: Religion and Bioethics
  • Sociology 220: Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society (co-listed as Humanities 220)
  • Sociology 312: Social Basis of Environmental Change
  • Sociology 319: Sociology of Science