LIFESCI 4P03 Science in a Post-Truth World
McMaster University, Fall 2018
Over the past few years there has been a growing sense that we live in a “post-truth” reality, in which objectivity and facts do not matter anymore. In this course, we will explore the impact of a looming epistemic crisis on science and its institutions, focusing on how science-based validation is challenged by emotion, personal beliefs and “alternative facts” in public controversies over vaccines, climate change, evolution, GMOs, and other emerging techno-scientific developments. We will further look at the social and political ramifications of such “manufactured” scientific controversies, science denialism and why it persists, and what scientists can do to confute deceptive arguments about science. Three hours (lecture); one term.
COURSES PREVIOUSLY TAUGHT
PHILOS 3C03 Advanced Bioethics
McMaster University, Winter 2018
This course explores key concepts and debates in contemporary bioethics as they apply to the topic of human enhancement. We examine what human enhancement means, the state of ethical debate, social and political consequences of human enhancement technologies, the appropriate scope of their application (i.e., therapy vs enhancement), concerns about safety and fairness, competing views of justice and human flourishing, and intellectual movements in response to the possibility for radical transformation of the human condition through biotechnology (i.e., bioconservatism, transhumanism). The course format is a 3-hour weekly lecture.
PHIL 4390H Advanced Topics in Biomedical Ethics
Trent University, Winter 2016
This course explores the ethics of stem cell research and related technologies such as human cloning, assisted human reproduction, chimera research, and genome editing. The focus is both theoretical and applied, engaging students in a focused study of philosophical perspectives on the moral status of the human embryo such as the ‘equal moral status’ view, developmental theories of personhood, and attribution views of personhood, as well as consideration of the political, social and cultural factors that have shaped public debates and policy decisions. The course format is a weekly 2-hour seminar.
ASCI 4000Y Communicating Knowledge
Trent University, Fall/Winter 2015-2016
A fourth-year seminar that engages students in independent research and teaches them to communicate that research – both within and between disciplines – to a variety of audiences. The topic for 2015-2016 is controversies in science and technology, exploring contemporary issues such as stem cell research, vaccines, evolution/creationism, information technology, climate change, space exploration, precision medicine, food safety, and nanotechnology. In the second term, students develop an original research project on a topic within the course themes. They are taught how to use primary and secondary sources, follow the standard stages in research and writing of scholarly papers, and apply audience analysis and adaptation to communicate their research projects. The format is a weekly 3-hour seminar.
ASCI 1000Y Knowing and Wondering
Trent University, Fall/Winter 2015-2016
This is a first-year humanities course that emphasizes critical thinking and writing skills. The course provides an introduction to the history of science in society by exploring similarities and differences between art and science as human activities. Students learn about the origins of natural philosophy and learning in Western society, the establishment of institutions of learning, technological innovations that facilitated the spread and democratization of knowledge (e.g., the printing press, the Internet), the origins of modern scientific method, the role of imagination and reasoning in the production of scientific knowledge, and recent challenges in communicating science to the public. The course has a broad interdisciplinary focus, integrating perspectives from science and technology studies (STS), history, philosophy, communication and cultural studies, literary studies, and art history. The course format is a 2-hour lecture and 50-minute tutorials.
ASCI 2000H Methods and Communication
Trent University, Fall 2015
This is a second-year course that focuses on inquiry-based learning and provides an overview of techniques, analytical strategies, data analyses, and other methods relevant to research at the intersection of humanities/social sciences and the sciences. A specific issue is chosen annually and examined through different disciplinary approaches. The topic for 2015 is science communication. The evolution of science communication as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry is examined, addressing key issues, concepts, methodologies, research agendas, and paradigms in communicating science and technology. Topics include scientific literacy, public perceptions and attitudes, science-related decision making, science journalism, media framing, advocacy and advertising, rhetoric and representation, audience analysis and adaptation, public engagement with science, research methods in communication studies, and future directions in science communication education. The format is a weekly 3-hour meeting.
COMM 3330U Scientific and Technical Writing
University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Winter 2011
This is a third-year seminar that provides an overview of technical and scientific writing styles and standards, and further examines the processes involved in research, writing, revisions and presentation of scientific and technical texts. The course includes three sections: Part I reviews the purpose and underlying principles of scientific and technical communication. Part II introduces conventions of scientific discourse and the fundamentals of scientific and technical writing, focusing on challenges faced by writers, the stages of an efficient writing process, and the use of audience/profile analysis for document development. Part III teaches practical writing skills, introducing techniques for information gathering, analysis and manipulation, and strategies how to write effectively and clearly scientific documents such as review articles, analytical reports, and research proposals, as well as to prepare oral presentations (e.g., conference presentations, research talks). The course format is two weekly meetings, including a lecture and a writing tutorial.
SOCI 3940 3.0MW Sociology of Scientific Controversies
York University, Winter 2010
This is a third-year sociology course cross-listed with the Undergraduate Program in Science and Technology Studies (STS), which examines recent controversies in science to foreground the social and cultural processes which shape scientific knowledge. Case studies include: genetically modified organisms (GMOs), genetics and race, globalized clinical trials, AIDS, stem cell research, human cloning, assisted human reproduction, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), human enhancement, life-extension, and hybrid embryo research. Critical sociological and STS perspectives are utilized to explore social structures and processes of scientific activity, the validity of religious arguments in science policy debates, public representations of science, the impact of commercialization, social movements in biomedicine and citizen participation in the construction of scientific knowledge. The format is one three-hour seminar per week, including lectures, discussions, films, and guest lectures.
TEACHING ASSISTANT COURSES
SOCI 3820 Sociology of Health and Health Care (3 years)
SOSC 1930 Health and Equity
SOSC 1310 Introduction to Communications (3 years)
SOSC 1140 Self, Culture and Society
HUMA 2195 Defining Europe: Introduction to European Studies (2 years)
CMN 432 Communications in the Engineering Professions
SOC 203 Social Class and Inequality
University of Toronto
NEW 240Y Introduction to Equity Studies (2 years)
NEW 271Y Contemporary Popular Culture