Teaching

History of Science 122v: “Science in the Cold War,” Harvard University, Fall 2013 & Spring 2015 (Syllabus) (Course Blog)

The Cold War was an era of unprecedented growth in the sciences — and unprecedented political stakes for scientific research. This course covers the history of the physical, biological, and human sciences during the Cold War. We will look at science on both sides of the Berlin Wall, paying particular attention to intersections between science, politics, and governments. Topics will include the Manhattan Project, the development of “big science,” genetics and Lysenkoism, the nuclear arms race and the space race, scientific espionage, and communication between scientists in the West and in the Soviet world.

History of Science 124v:  “Radioactive Culture,” Harvard University, Spring 2014 (Syllabus) (Course Blog)

Do your parents tell you stories about nuclear bomb drills in their elementary schools? Would you want to live in the same neighborhood as a nuclear power plant? Why did Stan Lee choose a radioactive spider to turn Peter Parker into Spider-Man? Our culture has strong ideas about radioactivity. How have those ideas changed over time? And how do they relate to the science of radioactivity? This seminar will explore the cultural history of radioactivity. Sample topics include newspaper coverage of nuclear science, ways people have prepared for possible nuclear catastrophes, and literature and films with nuclear themes.

History of Science 194v: “Brave New Worlds: Imagining the Futures of Science,” Harvard University, Fall 2015

This seminar examines science fiction (broadly defined) in its historical context and considers how specific works both reflected and shaped changing beliefs about science and its role in society. Students will analyze works of fiction alongside scholarly literature about developments in the history of science. Topics include poems and treatises about “new worlds” written during the Scientific Revolution, fables from Victorian Britain that drew on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, fiction and films about radioactivity and nuclear war, and science fiction about gender and fertility written during and after the women’s movement.

History of Science 129v: “Ether, Atoms, Particles and Politics: The Physical Sciences in Modern Society,” Harvard University, Fall 2014 (Syllabus)

This course surveys the history of the physical sciences from the late eighteenth century to the present. The course will cover major events and themes in the history of the physical sciences, placing particular emphasis on the interaction between the physical sciences and social and political changes. Students will work with primary sources and will also gain familiarity with some of the most important secondary sources in the history of physics, chemistry, and the earth sciences. Topics include the Chemical Revolution, thermodynamics, the Industrial Revolution, quantum mechanics, the atomic and hydrogen bombs, plate tectonics, and cold fusion.

Course Director, History of Science 98: “Junior Tutorial,” Harvard University, Fall 2014-Fall 2015

The junior research seminar in the history of science guides students as they produce a substantial original research paper under the guidance of the course director and their graduate student tutors.  Students are encouraged to use HS 98 as an opportunity to investigate the historical questions they are most passionate about. The final goal of the course is to complete a 7000-8500 word research paper.

Course Director, Humanities 1910: “Science and the Humanities,” York University, Fall/Winter 2010-2011
This two-term “foundations” course examined the changing relationship between science and the humanities from Copernicus to cold fusion.

Preceptor, History 292: “Science in the Modern World,” Princeton University, Fall 2008
This survey course covered the history of modern science since the death of Isaac Newton.

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