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Semester 2 - Dual-Delivery
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The university is not just a place to learn facts, it is also a place of argument, where ideas are contested. In this subject students will attend debates conducted by academics arguing about some of the most important issues in contemporary science and society. The subject places scientific debate in the context of current social and cultural issues, and illustrates how current social and cultural thinking is shaped by scientific controversy. Each week we will take up a contentious issue, and students will hear a lecture clearly arguing for one position, followed by a lecture clearly arguing for a different position. In each case your lecturers will do their best to persuade you of their position. The challenge for students in the tutorials and assessment tasks is to judge what is at issue, weigh the evidence, and determine which case is strongest.
Weekly debates will be selected from among the following controversial propositions:
1. Genetically modified crops are the only way to feed the masses.
2. Nuclear fuel is the future of energy production.
3. Science and technology is the path to utopia.
4. Humans will become Post-human.
5. The scientific method is the only way to truly know.
6. Catastrophic climate change can be averted.
7. There is a physical explanation for everything that exists and everything that happens.
8. Digital media is making us stupid.
9. A machine more intelligent than you will exist in your lifetime.
10. Our history is fundamentally shaped by science and technology.
11. This has been a waste of time: controversies cannot be resolved through rational debate.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the epistemological, methodological and empirical foundations upon which opinions differ on important issues in science and technology.
- Demonstrate the capacity to critically weigh contrasting evidence and argument presented in the debates and to reach defensible and persuasive conclusions as to the persuasiveness of the positions put based on evidence and logic.
- Further develop skills in clear, coherent and persuasive written work.
- Acquire skills in clear, coherent and persuasive oral presentation.
- Develop the clear thinking skills required to assess the validity of an argument.
- Develop effective written and oral communication and presentation skills.
- Extend their capacity to read effectively and to conduct wider research.
Last updated: 29 July 2022