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Course To Study Political Effects Of Science Work


Graduate students and teaching fellows in the sciences are planning a half-course for next year which would "put some societal relevance in the Natural Sciences curriculum."

Political Orientation

Franklin E. Mirer, teaching fellow in Chemistry, and an organizer of the course said that it will focus on the utilization of science in politically-oriented situations. The course's planners are preparing an outline, which they will submit to the Commitee on General Education for consideration at its April 16 meeting.

The concept of the course, Mirer said, is the combined study of "pure science" and related topical issues. Students will meet in lectures, where scientific background will be given and specific topics will be presented. But most of the course work will be done in sections.

Mod Topics

Among the possible topics for study, Mirer said, are chemical and biological warfare, missile systems, pollution, and problems relating to pharmaceutical and psychedelic drugs. Discussion of political and cultural issues will be part of the section meetings.

The issues of research and its political context will be discussed in lectures, but will not be studied specifically in sections.

Mirer said that the course would be the first at Harvard to deal directly, rather than "obliquely," with the political implications of science.

Mirer explained that the course is designed to motivate non-scientific students in scientific study, by showing them contemporary examples of the application of science.

Odds on Acceptance

Mirer would not predict the chances of the course's acceptance by the Committee on General Education. "The main touchy point," he said, "is the disagreement over whether science can be taught in a topical political context."

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