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Welcome to Science in Society. Science in Society is an interesting and topical GCE advanced level course. It aims to develop the knowledge and skills that are .
Table of contents
- Academic years
- Minor Science and Technology in Society (StiS)
- About the Major, Science in Society Program - Wesleyan University
Science in Society offers undergraduate and postgraduate study options that encourage critical thinking about the role of science in society. We conduct research into issues in science and society, including climate change and environmental concerns, technology, science funding and engagement. We encourage engagement with science and critical thinking about science through a range of public and scholarly initiatives.
Home Contact. Wellington Faculty of Science Research Centre for Science in Society Centre for Science in Society Researchers interested in the relationship between science, scientists, society, the history of science, and the communication of scientific information. Look at the relationships between science, technology and society, and explore the ways we think and talk about science. What do we understand from Science? It is one of the most remarkable inventions of humankind, a source of inspiration and understanding, which lifts the veil of ignorance and superstition, is a catalyst for social change and economic growth, and saves countless lives.
The function of science is to expand continually our knowledge of the phenomena of nature, giving us an insight into the complex interrelations of phenomena, or rather between the concepts used to interpret those phenomena. Areas that often conform well to these stereotypes include chemistry, physics, molecular biology They are traditionally divided between a primarily basic science, which studies the fundamental laws of nature: in a free search for progress of pure knowledge, from microcosms atoms to macrocosms universe , and a secondarily applied science on how the power of thinking can be increased by pursuing useful purposes and eventual specific practical advantages like medicine, engineering, industry, cyberspace, economics, quality of life, environmental and climatic changes….
Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences SEAS , in , who described it as artificial, as it assumes a linear relationship that does not always exist—discovery goes both ways, while inventions draw on scientific knowledge and scientists gain insight from new devices and applications. Narayanamurti proposes organizing science as a cycle that moves from discovery to invention and back again, a highly nonlinear model, because they must feed on each other, in a cross- and interdisciplinary work that breaks down disciplinary walls and encourages collaboration, which has been successful in some of the top scientific institutions.
For instance, Bell Labs, home to many important discoveries, such as the development of the transistor in , which laid the foundation for modern electronics and earned eight Nobel Prizes, blurred lines between disciplines, talented personnel, ample resources, and leadership Powell, There are other disciplines such as social sciences sociology, economics, political science, history… , and human sciences philosophy, ethics, theology, art, psychology, anthropology… , usually known as soft sciences.
Do they really constitute science at all, and do they deserve to stand beside the hard sciences? A key problem is that the task of operationalizing intuitive concepts is inevitably more difficult and less exact in the soft sciences, because there are so many uncontrolled variables Lang, Far from colonising social science under the banner of natural science, some social scientists consider their disciplines as science, and others want to think that the robustness of the philosophical approach is even more intense and transcendent than the so-called natural sciences, say, nuclear physics, because they offer achievements of great importance.
Philosophy is forced to consider science as the best available evidence. In its intention of achieving a complete construction of reality, philosophy focuses on human origin and destiny, and its Weltanschauung , or project of life, even if it realizes the impossibility of achieving this purpose—solving all problems, because there is no human way of solving everything see: Ramirez, in press. The science of the 21 st century is in most areas far too complex to be understood, let alone experimentally verified, by any one person.
This necessity of knowing something in depth reveals how the different specialties of knowledge become continuously more specialized, erecting barriers between disciplines, even if, in the end, these barriers between disciplines may block the possibility of judging and of doing better. This is why we need an interdisciplinary approach, a cooperative integration between all the branches of sciences, with each branch competent in a restricted field, but in contact with the rest, keeping all the subjects in permeating touch with each other, for better answers about being human and our single common Universe, because no single discipline can capture reality fully or claim to have the complete knowledge.
Moreover, conclusions from different disciplines cannot contradict one another. Sciences and humanities are actually not independent, but interdependent ways of getting to know the world. This is tied to a way of thinking and a sense of knowing that are largely contemplative. An e specially good example of transferring knowledge gained in one discipline to others is the Viennese school, one of the most important intellectual schools of the 20 th century, which had a mixture of classes and nationalities, faiths and worldviews, amid a babble of peoples and languages.
It was known as the Wiener melange.
It found universal forms of communication, discovering what people had in common. Why has the Viennese school p roduced ideas so influential in the West? Because it articulates a more convincing defence of freedom, placing the life experience of individuals—rather than the abstractions of class, race and nationalism favoured by their opponents—at the heart of its intellectual enterprises.
We are aware that bridging disciplinary divides cannot be easily done. As the various disciplines model human behavior in distinct and sometimes incompatible ways, the task requires a common underlying model of individual human behavior, specialized and enriched to meet the particular needs of each discipline Gintis, There is a lack of shared language between disciplines; insights from one field can be lost on researchers in another because of terminology differences, incompatible standards of evidence.
And we may also find practical differences in funding different disciplines, and strong incentives created by the academic promotion process to do disciplinary, rather than interdisciplinary work.
Perhaps it is time to stop trying. The interface is ripe for exploration. Rafael Reif said, solving the great challenges of our time will require multidisciplinary problem-solving—bringing together expertise from science, technology, the social sciences, arts, and humanities. We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has ever experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society, as Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, exposes in The 4 th Industrial Revolution This Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres: u biquitous, mobile supercomputing, artificially intelligent AI robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements, genetic editing… The evidence of dramatic change, which is happening at exponential speed, is all around us.
We cannot close our eyes to the information technology IT challenge, when diffusion is continuously spreading throughout the scientific world and everybody is investing more in it and in high-tech, and each time more intelligently. IT is an authentic revolution, with higher efficiency, more productivity and less transport expenses, resulting in an increase in quality of life.
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The most important comment, however, is that the last decision belongs to humans, because we are the ones who have to know how to use these new concepts adequately, knowing how to discriminate in the event of eventual risks inherent to their above described whirl. The continuous appearance of new scientific discoveries—some by serendipity, like the usefulness of some drugs or the law of gravity, which was discovered after Newton observed the fall of an apple—shows that science has no borders.
We want our understanding to be completely harmonious, which is never totally accomplished. When we are using science, we are trying to arrive at the truth. In many disciplines, we want the truth to translate into something that works. But if it is not true, it is not going to speed up computer software, it is not going to save lives and it is not going to improve quality of life. However, experience says that science can only disclose certain aspects of reality, but not the whole truth.
Universal truth is beyond the scope of any scientific enterprise. Science is not synonymous with truth. Let us base this assertion on a couple of arguments: the tentative nature of Science, by definition, the subjectivity of the perception, and the undeniable fact of the existence of many scientific studies subject to error and to fraud.
But these generalizations, even if they are universally accepted as ultimate scientific concepts, have often proven to be mistaken; they are just inductions, which may be useful, only working hypotheses, drawing more or less probabilistic conclusions. Science, thus, is only a guide to what is probable, an affair of probability; even if the odds in favor of much of it are very high, it is impossible to reach the exact complete knowledge. There are no scientific dogmas , there are no certainties in science: all scientific theory is open to challenge; scientific findings cannot be ignored, nor treated as mere matters of faith.
Our own experience tells us that the subjective perceived phenomena, the human sensations, are not reliable, because what is perceived cannot be separated from the perceiver. Knowledge is inevitably constructed by the knower in interaction with his nervous activity, and we should never forget that each scientist has his own values, priorities and may also have all sorts of cognitive biases, prejudices or unfounded speculations Popper, Much of the public hears what it wants to hear. Thus, although science attempts to unify different ideas, prejudice and self-righteousness, it bases itself on an illusion from a particular viewpoint, and there may be struggles.
Many things have to be scientifically understood. We are far from understanding the truth Ameniya, The same things may look different if our viewpoint is different, as it is evident from the quite well known Indian tale about six blind men who touch an elephant to learn what it is like: The one who feels the leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.
At various times the parable has provided insight into the relativism, opaqueness or inexpressible nature of truth, the behavior of experts in fields where there is a deficit or inaccessibility of information, the need for communication, and respect for different perspectives.
We cannot thus ignore the subjective experiences and the limitation of our faculties of perception, given that the human cognitive capacity is limited. Reality goes beyond the Limits of Science. We have just asserted that science only gives information about what is apprehended by the senses, but these senses do not reveal the Reality. This does not necessarily have to be restricted to physical terms, by suppressing its subjective dimensions, even if—we have to admit it—these observations are subtler.
If we want to understand the human being and the universe, science has a lot to say, but it is not the only test of validity. The uniqueness of a human mind is its ability to think about things which do not fall under the senses. There are other ways of knowledge, but to see life steadily and as a whole, we need something that will overpass the limits of science, ethics, philosophy, art and theology, all of them equally valid and limited in isolation, like science. What is the origin of life on Earth?
Are we alone in the universe or is there a probability of life elsewhere in the universe? What is human nature? How much can human life span be extended? How do organisms know when to stop growing? Can cancer be cured or ageing be stopped?
Minor Science and Technology in Society (StiS)
What genetic changes made us uniquely human? Is morality hard-wired into the brain? What are the limits of learning by machines?
Given the enormous complexity of reality, there will always be things unintelligible to the human mind. For instance, the existence of moral values, social institutions, God… cannot be subject to experimental tests, but it does not mean that they do not exist. We need them as pilots of our life and our social relations.
About the Major, Science in Society Program - Wesleyan University
The vision of the human being searching for a purpose in life thus transcends scientific knowledge. Ignoramus, Ignorabimus! Belief is a decision rationally as fundamental, and consequently at least as respectable, as no belief. We dare to say that everybody has faith. Others, even if we are color-blind and have no religious sense, still use faith in acceptance of science, because, otherwise, we would not accept any science that we have not personally studied ourselves and get convinced of the evidence presented. We would like to add to these considerations that there is a need for a bridge between science and religion , because both have things to say about the same subject matter.
Some aspects of the world can be known through empirical observation; others, through religious thought. Science tells us more and more about how things work. Why they work, and what is the overarching reality, are issues of an evolving religion.