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History of Modern Biology

 This course focuses on the history of biology since the mid-nineteenth century. The central stories concern the history of genetics from its agricultural origins in the nineteenth century to the recent history of recombinant DNA and the history of evolution from Darwin's time through the 'new synthesis' in the mid-twentieth century up to the sociobiological 'synthesis' of the 1970s; some attention will also be paid to the rise of ecology. Through these stories, we will grapple with biologists' ideas about reductionism, holism, and levels of biological organization; analyze different modes of scientific practice (lab work, fieldwork, theorizing); and consider the institutional and broader social politics of biology as it has developed over the last century or so. Finally, we will also consider how these various themes are reflected in the ways that the history of biology as been written, by critically examining and comparing scientists' and historians' accounts.

Department: 
History of Science
Course#: 
333
Course: 
History of Modern Biology
Credits: 
4
Instructor(s): 
Nyhart, Lynn
Semester: 
Spr