Departments & Programs

History and Philosophy of Science

Certificate in the Cultures of Science and Medicine


This program aims to give both undergraduates majoring in the sciences and undergraduates majoring in the humanities a unique opportunity to bridge the ever-widening gap between the notorious "two cultures." The program is organized and administered within the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, but it also involves a wide spectrum of other units across the university, such as the Departments of Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Religious Studies, and Sociology; and the Schools of Business, Education, Informatics and Computing, Journalism, and Public and Environmental Affairs. The program involves several different tracks that integrate the sciences and the humanities in a variety of ways: (1) Life Sciences; (2) Physics, Computation, and Cognition; (3) Science, Society, and Culture; (4) the Nature of Science.

Required Courses

Students must complete 25–27 credit hours—24 credit hours of course work divided into eight 3 credit courses, with 1–3 extra credit hours given for a capstone research project. Four of the courses, totaling 12 credit hours, will be in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and the remaining four, also totaling 12 credit hours, will be spread across the other curricular units involved in the program in accordance with the chosen track. Each student's plan for a particular track must be approved by the director of the program.

A 100-level core course in history and philosophy of science is required for all students in the program. Students may select either the introductory survey course offered every semester under the course number X102 or the Critical Approaches to the Arts and Sciences course relevant for their chosen track:

  • Track 1: COLL-C 104 Genetics, Eugenics and Biotechnology
  • Track 2: COLL-C 105 Quantum Mysteries for Everyone
  • Track 3: COLL-C 104 Evolution, Creationism, and Society or COLL-C 103 Eyes, Light, and Color: Vision Studies from the Renaissance Through the Twentieth Century
  • Track 4: No available Critical Approaches Courses. Students must take X102.

Three other HPSC courses relevant for the chosen track, one of which must be at or above the 300 level, are also required. These courses will be selected in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Four courses from other relevant units, adapted to the particular track elected by the student, will then complete the program. In non–HPSC courses, at least one must be at the 300 level or above. Four courses (including both HPSC and non–HPSC courses) will be at the 300–400 level.

Recommended Courses (offered regularly)

Track 1
  • Memoirs of Madness (HON-H 226)
  • Environmental History (X223)
  • The Origins of Darwinism (X226)
  • History of Physiology from 18th Century–20th Century (X226)
  • History of Medicine: From Galen to Harvey and Microscopy (X323)
  • Anatomy and Physiology on William Harvey and His Century (X326)
  • History of Biology (X308)
  • Human Nature (X320)
  • History and Philosophy of Medicine (X320)
  • Philosophy of Medicine (X320)
  • Perception and Observation (X323)
Track 2
  • Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science (COGS-Q 240)
  • Technology and Culture (X210)
  • History and Philosophy of Physics (X226)
  • Philosophy of Physics (X220)
  • Philosophy of Images and Metaphors in Science (X320)
  • Computer LTD: Logical and Physical Limits on Computation (X326)
  • Quantum Paradoxes: Joy of Entanglement (X326)
  • Relativity Theory (X323)
Track 3
  • The Origins of Darwinism (X226)
  • Environmental History (X223)
  • The Art of Science: History and Philosophy of the Use of Images in Science (X326)
  • Anatomy and Physiology: William Harvey and His Century (X326)
  • Cultural History of Astrology (X320)
  • Science and Gender (X370)
  • Victorian Science, Philosophy, and Culture (X420)
Track 4
  • History of Science before 1750 (X406)
  • Scientists at Work: Frankenstein to Einstein (X110)
  • Modern Philosophy (X452)
  • Scientific Understanding (X451)
  • History of Science since 1750 (X407)
  • Perception and Observation (X323)
  • Instruments and Experiments (X326)
  • The Art of Science: History and Philosophy of the Use of Images in Science (X326)

Additional courses from our course offerings may be selected in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.