First Semester Sophomores
First semester sophomores who are considering History and Science as their concentration are strongly encouraged to take History of Science 100 (a required course) during the fall semester, if they have not already done so. General Education courses taught by department faculty, as well as any other 100-level courses in the department, will also give students an introduction to the concentration.
Declaring Your Concentration in History and Science
The process for declaring your concentration is straightforward, and you can complete it by taking the following steps:
1. Go to my.harvard.edu and follow the instructions to Declare or Change Concentration. Be sure to choose a track, and focus, within History and Science. If you change your mind about your track or focus later on, it’s a simple process to update it. The deadline for the Class of 2023 to submit the declaration of concentration is Thursday, November 19, 2020.
2. Complete a Courses in Concentration form. A separate form is available for each track and focus. We ask sophomores to submit the form at the beginning of their spring semester, but in the meantime, it can be used as a guide to plan the courses you will take for concentration credit. We ask all concentrators to complete a new form, or update their most recent one, at least once each year. The form is not binding, and can be revised until the second semester of the senior year.
3. Sign up for our office hours. If you have any questions about concentration requirements, tutorial courses, or any aspect of the undergraduate program, please feel free to contact:
Allie Belser, Manager of Student Programs
Anne Harrington, Director of Undergraduate Studies
We do not require that you meet with us before the concentration declaration deadline, but if you’d like to schedule an appointment, we’d be very happy to meet with you!
4. Welcome to History and Science, one of the most flexible, personal and engaged concentrations in the College!
Second Semester Sophomores
Welcome to the concentration! All new concentrators enroll in the sophomore tutorial during the spring semester. Sophomore tutorial is a hands-on course that introduces students to some of the most exciting and productive questions in the history of science, technology and medicine, while developing critical reading, presentation and discussion skills.
The course consists of eight plenary weeks, in which you work in teams, and four project weeks, in which you work individually.
Plenary weeks: During the eight plenary weeks, you will be broken into three teams (Team Curie, Team Galileo, Team Pasteur). You will be introduced to an exciting and challenging issue or theme in the history of science and medicine. Your team will then be assigned an historical case designed to help you engage with the theme of the week. Your task: to work first in small groups to master the material of your case, and then to share your insights with the other two teams in a plenary session. The other two teams, each assigned a related but different case of their own, will in turn share their insights with you! The concept here is simple: prepare and share!
The eight plenary week themes are as follows:
1. Ways of Knowing - what is science anyway? How has it emerged as a unique set of ways to know the world?
2. Scientific Objects - what kinds of objects in the world become interesting to science and why?
3. Knowledge in Motion - how has our knowledge of the world been facilitated by the movement and exchange of ideas and materials across different countries and cultures?
4. Science in its Places - how has our knowledge of the world been made possible by the establishment of specific places designed to produces specific kinds of knowledge?
5. Pathways to Big Stories: Darwin's Letters - how can we use correspondence as a way "into" one of the big stories of the late 19th century - the Darwinian revolution?
6. Pathways to Big Stories: "Copenhagen" - how can we use a play, "Copenhagen," as a way "into" one of the big stories of the mid-20th-century - the quantum revolution and the making of the atom bomb?
7. Science and Pseudoscience - how can we understand ways in which, historically, distinctions between science and pseudoscience arise and are justified?
8. Science and Ethics - how can we understand ways in which, historically, certain kinds of scientific and medical practices and norms become ethically problematic and may require analysis and appraisal?
The four project weeks focus on the following kinds of sources and tasks:
1. Scientific instruments - learn how to analyze and ask interesting questions about the material stuff of science, in this case a scientific instrument from the 18th-century or before.
2. Specialist texts - learn how to analyze and ask interesting questions about the forms of writing that science and medicine use to share their knowledge with specialist audiences, focusing on the late 19th and early 20th-century.
3. Science on the screen - learn how to analyze and ask interesting questions about science popularization and the use of film to share scientific or medical ideas with non-specialist audiences, focusing on films made in the mid-20th-century.
4. Book review - learn how to understand, analyze and appraise an influential book in the history of science or medicine (you will have many choices).