Final Project

STS 5404: Modern American Science • Final project assignment

Click here for pdf version

Final project pages are here

Research paper

15-20 pages. Final paper due December 4 (post on your wiki page before class); intermediate milestones are noted below.

This assignment focuses on describing a scientific event within its wider historical context. Skills practiced include: finding primary-source data on a historical topic; analysis of the dynamics of a scientific incident or institution; and situating the case study in the larger context of American history and culture.

1. Choose any topic in the history of science in America from the Civil War to the present. Write a 15-20-page research paper, using primary and secondary sources, that explores how this topic illustrates the intersection of science and American culture. Areas of culture could include institutions, political processes, religious beliefs, ideas about race or gender, etc.

Possible places to find primary sources include the AAAS archives, National Library of Medicine, Smithsonian archives, National Archives, Library of Congress, GMU Pioneers in Science and Technology oral history collection, databases from NSF and the Census Bureau on demographics of the S&T workforce, legislative records (for political debate), online databases of old newspapers (for popular coverage of science), popular culture (fiction, film, etc., for depictions of science and scientists).

2. By week 5 (September 25, before class begins), email me a one-paragraph description of your topic.

3. Milestone, week 8: Create a wiki page for your project. The page should include a one-paragraph abstract, an annotated bibliography of your most important secondary sources, and a description of the primary sources you are using. Also include a paragraph describing any obstacles you have encountered in terms of finding sources, interpreting data, narrowing or broadening your topic, etc., or any other areas in which you would like help from your peers.

Wiki pages must be created by Sunday, October 12 at 5pm so that others can read them.

Read all of your classmates’ project pages and be prepared to discuss in class. We will offer suggestions for overcoming research obstacles.

4. Milestone, week 11: Science in context. Prepare a 1-2 page discussion of how your case study is situated within American culture, and post it on your project’s wiki page. Questions to consider could include: What social issues motivated this scientific research or activity? What types of people were included in or excluded from this activity? What types of institutions (academic, government, private) were involved? What kinds of social effects did it have? Did it reinforce or challenge existing cultural beliefs, social structures, and sources of authority?

Papers must be posted on your wiki page by Sunday, November 2 at 5pm so that others can read them.

Read all of your classmates’ papers and be prepared to discuss in class. We may create a wiki page focusing on the intersection of science and American culture.

5. Oral presentations, weeks 13-14. Prepare a 20-minute summary of your findings.

Alternative assignment: Course design

10-15 pages. Final write-up due December 4 (post on your wiki page before class); intermediate milestones are noted below.

This assignment focuses on tracing broad trends in the history of science within a particular culture. Skills practiced include: organizing a course in terms of themes and topic areas; finding appropriate readings on a series of historical topics; and creating assignments that help students relate science to history and culture.

1. Design a graduate or undergraduate course on the history of modern science in a NON-American context. You will need to research the history of science in the country or region you have chosen and identify the major events, trends, institutions, and cultural factors involved.

Your written course materials should include a course description (1-2 paragraphs in the style of a course catalog), a schedule of weekly topics

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

SSL configuration warning

This site has been configured to use only SSL (HTTPS) secure connection. SSL is available only for Pro+ premium accounts.

If you are the master administrator of this site, please either upgrade your account to enable secure access. You can also disable SSL access in the Site Manager for this site.