Presenting Science As a Human Endeavor Can Help Take Fear Out Of First Contact

This fall quarter I have 200 freshmen, all nonscience majors, taking BIOL 104: Human Biology. I'm concerned. What should I teach them? The power and limits of this responsibility overwhelm me. Traditionally, if I follow the most-used textbooks, Human Biology is a survey of the systems: respiratory, digestive, reproductive-about a system a week. But this is one of only two required courses in science they will have, and perhaps the only lab experience. What of the nature of science itself; how m

Patricia Hauslein
Sep 28, 1997

This fall quarter I have 200 freshmen, all nonscience majors, taking BIOL 104: Human Biology. I'm concerned. What should I teach them?

The power and limits of this responsibility overwhelm me. Traditionally, if I follow the most-used textbooks, Human Biology is a survey of the systems: respiratory, digestive, reproductive-about a system a week. But this is one of only two required courses in science they will have, and perhaps the only lab experience. What of the nature of science itself; how much of that can I put in the course? The relationship of form to function is such a central idea in biology; but forgive me, do traditional anatomy and physiology really teach this concept? And what of the greater role of the species in the community, ecosystem, and biosphere? I've got only 10 weeks!

Pursuing avoidance, I picked up a copy of Carl Sagan's book A Demon Haunted World...

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