The aim of this Focus cluster is to take a scholarly, interdisciplinary and, we hope, fun approach to science and technology and the ways in which they reach the public. Our cluster will be a cohort of four courses dedicated to various aspects of science’s place in the world, including: patient activism and advocacy; the development of laws and policies governing science; the relationship between science and the performing arts; and human-machine interfaces in the twenty-first century. The weekly interdisciplinary discussion course will be dedicated to science communication and science outreach. Each course will explore, to varying degrees, “how the sausage gets made,” i.e., how science and technology happen; what becomes of them once they do happen; how they are conveyed to various publics; and stakeholder responses to them.
Misha Angrist, Associate Professor of the Practice at the Social Sciences Research Institute; Senior Fellow in Duke Initiative for Science & Society; Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy
In the 1960s, patients appropriated the language and tactics of the civil rights movement to advance clinical and research agendas. Today patient activism is evolving, leading to new solutions, dilemmas, and organizational structures. This course will examine patient and research participant activism and the ways it challenges conventional notions of expertise, amateurism, "human subjects protections," and minimization of risk. Students will bring the tools of journalism, anthropology, humanities scholarship, public policy and community engagement/citizen science to bear on ethical and policy questions.
Laura Smart Richman, Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences, Faculty Network Member of the Energy Initiative, Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, Core Faculty Member, Duke-Margolis Center for health Policy
What are the government policies that support science? How is science regulated and controlled? What can science contribute to law and policy? How do the states and the federal government interact to set science policy? How do disparate regulations and law impact research and translation? How is scientific research funded? Why is there so much distrust of science? We will explore these questions and more by looking at the various interactions of law, science, and policy.
Jules Odendahl-James, Director of Academic Engagement, Arts & Humanities
This course invites students to consider the ways in which visual, creative, and performing arts can improve public awareness and knowledge about complex ideas and research across what C.P. Snow called “the two cultures”: the arts and the sciences. We will center our inquiry on climate change and its short and long-term effects. We will read a handful of new plays, short fiction, and non-fiction that depict and dissect the present and imagine a variety of futures. We will consider science museums, particularly Durham’s own Museum of Life & Science, as public laboratories for experimental, embodied, interdisciplinary collaborations. The course is project based and workshop structured with opportunities for students to pitch, test, and revise ideas. No previous arts experience necessary; you will learn/employ a host of tools (e.g., adaptation, composition, design, dramaturgy, and movement) of your choosing to craft original work for three related course units: Autobiography of an Element, The Uncertainty Festival, and Ocean Exhibit Prototypes.
Mark DeLong, Director of Duke Research Computing
From mobile phones to driverless cars, modern high-tech devices have important human-facing and human-obscured elements that shape our relationships with technology. Some integrate seamlessly into our daily lives, others frustrate us, and some simply captivate us. In this course, we will investigate how the design, development, and usage of these technologies impact contemporary human societies. Topics will include design principles, data collection & usage, accessibility, usability, safety, ethics, societal impact and performance. Case studies used in the course will include a variety of past and current technologies, as well as emerging systems such as brain-computer interfaces, autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence.