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Arts and Science Inquiry Course:
Discovery: the Context of Biomedical Research
This was also an Inquiry course that is taken by the Arts and Sciences students. It has replaced the original course described earlier. In this course I sought to deal with the consideration of the "context" (antecedents and consequences) of scientific discovery in the experimental sciences, particularly in the biomedical realm.
As background material I wrote a brief commentary that loosely described the instructional elements of the course.
... In looking at scientific discoveries, one can adopt the "Small" View or the "Large" View (or in more pedantic terms Micro and Macro perspectives). In the former case, attention is focused on the immediate antecedents and consequences such as the status of knowledge at any particular juncture that gave rise to the ideas that provided the impetus for the action taken (experiments). The methods used can be interpreted quite broadly to include not only the judgements that scientists make about reliability and interpretation of data but the ways in which they work with each other and the strategies used to obtain information and justify it to the scientific community. These constitute the craft of science. The Large View focuses on the social forces that create the Institutions that permit research of this kind to occur, the investments and the returns of such activity, the mores and taboos of the communities involved. Scientific activity is not value-free. Biases inherent in society influence the selection of questions deemed worthy of pursuit and more importantly on those that are ignored. The methods used to obtain information as well as the justification procedures are coloured by the values and training of the individuals involved...
For this particular course, I used real cases since these were found to be more complex and rewarding than any that I could have invented.
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