Uses of the Past - The Scientist as Storyteller

CLLC-L 120 / Class 32616 — Fall 2023

Edmondson Hall C110
Days and Times
M/W 1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., 3 credits
Course Description

This course looks into how and why scientists tell stories. Topics range from stories about nature, such as the birth of the universe, the evolution of species, processes of chemical reactions, and mechanisms of cell interaction, to stories about scientists themselves, especially how different stories are organized to advertise one’s research, overview the domain, teach students, or appeal to the public. We will examine how such stories are distinct from plain factual reports. Stories involve a careful selection of facts based on what scientists deem significant; they are structured surrounding some subjects and follow a temporal development. Stories may not be perfectly coherent, yet they reach their closure satisfactorily. More importantly, stories are more useful than just expressing what we already knew. They provide directions to upcoming scientific inquiries, help to establish more reliable theories, nourish a reflexive scientific community, and inform us about the future of our world.

Instructor: Siyu Yao

SustainCollins course – open to all Collins students.

Selected by Board of Educational Programming (BOEP)