Researchers around the world are pushing new boundaries for science and developing emerging technologies that have the potential to change the way we understand our health, the environment, and the world around us. With each innovation comes new questions about access, safety, and the potential societal impacts. These questions are at the core of science policy. This course will provide students with a hands-on introduction to the field through a review of current research papers and policy positions and the opportunity to develop policy positions for themselves.
The field of science policy lies at the intersection of research, ethics, and politics. During this week-long course, students will be introduced to foundational science concepts and current science policy debates through research articles, in-class discussion, and written reflections. Each day, one of the following science policy topics will be covered: gene editing in humans, addressing climate change, antibiotic-resistance, and renewable energy. For each topic, students will be asked to read and write a reflection about a set of research articles and policy papers in preparation for class. In class, the students will share their reflections in small group discussions. Groups then work together to develop a policy proposal to address the issue of the day. Policy proposals will be presented to the class, with a facilitated discussion about how and why specific recommendations were included. This work will push students to grapple with the complex challenge of science policy decision making.
The course instructor completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Brown University in 2012. Prior to joining Brown as a staff member, she worked in Washington, D.C. first as an American Associaton for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow, and then as a science policy consultant supporting agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation. She will use her practical knowledge and experience with science policy to explain ongoing debates and issues.
As a result of this course students will be able to:
- Analyze scientific research papers for actionable data that can inform policy
- Recognize ethical challenges related to emerging research and technologies
- Develop evidence-based science policy recommendations
These learning outcomes will improve students’ critical thinking and provide an introduction to further study in the field of science policy.
Prerequisites: To successfully complete this course, students will need to have completed at least one high-school biology course. The course will be open to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
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