Undergraduate

The Department of the History of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Department of the History of Medicine offers an undergraduate major and minor in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. As an interdisciplinary subject that is based in the humanities, our goals are to gain awareness of the historical roots of our culture and other cultures, with particular reference to the development of science, medicine, and technology. Our courses reinforce and illustrate for both science majors and non-majors that science is not merely the manipulation of laws and rules, but a human activity. We hope to instill in students an appreciation of the value of humanistic study as offering a perspective on modern problems relating to science, medicine and technology, which can contribute to modern-day problem-solving.

The program is well suited to double majors in the sciences and to pre-medical students. Courses offered by scholars from the Smithsonian Institution are a regular feature of the program. Students take courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, plus history of science, history of medicine, and history of technology. An optional senior thesis allows students to get practical experience and explore topics of interest in depth.

The program prepares students for the growing number of careers—teaching, journalism, medicine, law, public policy, business—in which an understanding of the impact of science is important.

Learning Goals

Undergraduate majors in the BA program in the history of science, medicine, and technology will:

  • Gain awareness of how science, technology, and medicine have developed in diverse cultural contexts, from ancient times to the present
  • Acquire fundamental skills of historical interpretation, including honing critical thinking skills through analysis of a variety of primary and secondary sources, including texts, images, film, and artifacts
  • Acquire fundamental skills of writing and oral presentation, emphasizing clear and logical exposition, which enhances student readiness for the workforce and professional careers
  • Learn to interact on an intellectual level with peers, with respect for different opinions and engagement with the ideas of others
  • Acquire the ability to do historical research and to make an original contribution to knowledge.