CORE 270 – Natural Science Perspectives

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is the first in a two-course sequence in the natural sciences required of all students at King’s College. As part of the CORE curriculum, students in all majors are instructed in a wide range of courses, in order to provide exposure to a variety of educational disciplines. The scientific discipline is no exception indeed, it is crucial for all members of society to be well-versed in the sciences. Whether you realize it or not, your life is profoundly affected (and will continue to be affected) by science. Therefore, it seems prudent for you to learn as much as you can about the application of science in everyday situations and how further discoveries in the field of science will continue to affect your life.

III. Course Description

Natural Science Perspectivesis a study of the scientific approach, its limits, and what distinguishes it from other approaches to understanding the world. While examining contemporary issues in science, students will compare scientific investigations to other forms of human intellectual activity and form an appreciation for the proper domain and the limits of each. Students will learn to recognize the power of quantifying scientific observations,the role of mathematical procedures and instrumentation in modern science,and should come to appreciate science as a means of acquiring human knowledge of the material universe.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

This course strives to help you understand what science is and—perhaps of even greater importance—what science is not, how science is performed, and the relevance of scientific study to society at large.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Discuss the definitions and limits of science, engineering, and technology and compare those disciplines to other philosophical and theological ways of thinking

·Implement the scientific method to design an experiment that tests an original hypothesis

·Recognize the power of mathematics as it relates to science and to the scientific method, specifically through the utilization of statistics to measure the quantitative result(s) observed in a given scientific experiment

·Critically evaluate and interpret the data resulting from a scientific study in order to determine if the hypothesis tested should be accepted or modified

·Review, appraise, assess, and evaluate the science discussed in a published scientific work at a level appropriate for the general public

·Distinguish legitimate scientific methodologies, laws, and theories from those of non-science, pseudoscience, and fraud

·Extend and apply the scientific principles discussed both to other disciplines and to society at large

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about natural phenomena

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

·Foster a healthy respect and appreciation for the role of science in politics, media, and society

·Extend and apply the scientific principles discussed both to other disciplines and to society at large

·Judge your own interest and/or talent within the scientific discipline

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

V. Required Text

The text will vary by instructor, but will typically be one of the following:

·Lee, J. A. The Scientific Endeavor: A Primer on Scientific Principles and Practice, 1st Edition Addison Wesley Longman Publishing: San Francisco, CA, 2000

·Ben-Ari, Moti, Just a Theory: Exploring the Nature of Science Prometheus Books: Amherst, New York, 2005

·Kleinsteuber, T. C. W. Wasowski, R. J. Sanders, M. Natural Science: The Scientific Approach, 5th Edition 2004

VI. Required Assessment

All students satisfying the Natural Science I requirement in the Core Curriculum will:

1.Complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during both the first two weeks and the last three weeks of the semester. The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.

2.Design and propose a scientific research project, explained and discussed in detail in a 3-5 page paper. Students will be graded based on their ability to state a coherent and testable hypothesis, to provide appropriate motivation and purpose for the experiment, to choose an adequate sample size with appropriate controls, to create a practical experimental design, to indicate clear methods of analyzing the data, to identify possible sources of error and bias, and to identify and address any ethical concerns.

3.Review a scientific article as part of an Exam, Project assignment, or in-class assignment. Specifically, students will need to summarize the content of the article and to highlight in the article any reference to experimental design, the scientific method, and mathematical or statistical analysis of the data collected to arrive at a conclusion. In addition, and most importantly, students will be asked to identify the motivation for the subject matter of the article and to place the relevance of the research into context with the big picture.


CORE 271 – Descriptive Astronomy

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is a study of the nature of the universe and builds upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives. Anobservationalcomponentmaybe required.

III. Course Description

Contrary to what you may believe, astronomy is not the art of writing horoscopes and is much more than learning the names of the stars in the sky. Astronomy is the study of the physical processes and bodies found in the heavens. During the semester, you will be introduced to ancient and modern astronomy, to the variety of planets in our solar system, to the birth, life and death of stars, to the wondrous complexity of galaxies and nebulae, and to scientific theories of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about astronomy, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of astronomy, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Develop the necessary skills and knowledge to explain to others the reasons behind everyday phenomena such as the seasons, the motion of the stars, the phases of the moon, etc.

·Outline how our knowledge of the scale and content of the Universe has changed over time

·Identify the properties of Earth that make it unique among the other bodies in the solar system and explain why those differences arise

·Understand how the Sun influences life on the Earth and how its properties change over time

·Distinguish between the stages of evolution in the life cycle of a star

·Place in order of size and formation time the Universe, galaxies, stars, planets and life

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Gain an appreciation and understanding of current discoveries and theories in astronomy including the size and scale of the universe, the nature of light, cosmology and the origin of the universe

·Develop positive attitudes and an interest in the life-long learning of astronomy

·Gain a cosmic perspective – a broad understanding of the nature, scope and evolution of the Universe, and where the Earth and Solar System fit in

·Develop an understanding of the role and accuracy of science, the role of observation, and the scientific method and its practical application, namely, how we know things about the universe

·Appreciate how knowledge of our physical universe has influenced history

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessment

All students satisfying the Natural Science II requirement in the Core Curriculum will:

1.Complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester. The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.

2.Complete a writing assignment or research project about a current topic in the science discipline. For this assignment, students will be asked to, among other things,identify "real science" versus "pseudoscience" in the context of the course and apply the concepts learned in CORE 270 to a real-life example in the specific scientific discipline.


CORE 272 – Chemistry and Context

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of the basic principles of chemistry and their relevance to society. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives.

III. Course Description

Chemistry in Contextis a course for liberal arts students who wish to have a deeper understanding of the world they live in – something ever more important as our society becomes more and more technologically dependent. This coursewillexpandthechemistryknowledgeofthosestudentswhohavealreadybeen introducedtochemistryandwillalsobeeasilycomprehendibletonewcomerstothe subject.Thehistoricaldevelopmentofthefundamentalprinciplesofchemistrywillbe exploredtoleaduptocurrentissuesthatareimportanttoeveryonelikeenergygeneration, medicines, and nutrition.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about chemistry, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of chemistry, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Learn the currently accepted models for the structure of matter from the atomic to the molecular level

·Understand the basic, fundamental concepts of chemical bonding and chemical reactions

·Develop an understanding of energy changes associated with chemical reactions

·Demonstrate the behavior of solids, liquids, and gasses including mass relationships, gas laws, solubility and acid-base relationships

·Describe the physical states of matter, the physical forces responsible for phase changes, and describe the behavior of mixtures

·Relate chemical principles to living systems and understand the role of chemistry in human nutrition

·Recognize the role of chemistry in current environmental concerns including the greenhouse effect and global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, acid raid, and conventional and alternative energy sources

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about natural phenomena

·Form an appreciation and understanding of the role of chemistry in everyday experiences and technology

·Understand the ways human choices affect the earth and living systems and the responsibilities of individual citizens and communities to preserve global resources

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

·Understand how physical laws were discovered and developed

·Appreciate how knowledge of our physical world has influenced history

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessment

All students satisfying the Natural Science II requirement in the Core Curriculum will:

1.Complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester. The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.

2.Complete a writing assignment or research project about a current topic in the science discipline. For this assignment, students will be asked to, among other things,identify "real science" versus "pseudoscience" in the context of the course and apply the concepts learned in CORE 270 to a real-life example in the specific scientific discipline.


CORE 273 – Contemporary Biology

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of selected contemporary issues in biology. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives.

III. Course Description

In Contemporary Biology,select contemporary issues in biology will be discussed. Topicsmayincludeworldhungerasanecological problem,theimpactofgenetictechnologyonmedicine,andthebiologicalandecological problems of toxic and hazardous wastes.

Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about biology, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of biology, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Insert course specific goals here

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about natural phenomena

·Form an appreciation and understanding of the role of biology in everyday experiences and technology

·Understand the ways human choices affect the earth and living systems and the responsibilities of individual citizens and communities to preserve global resources

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

IV. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

V. Required Assessment

Students are required to complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester.

The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.


CORE 274 – Environmental Science

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of the basic principles and issues of environmental science, and in particular, the connections between humanity and natural resource consumption. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives.

III. Course Description

The Environment and Natural Resourcesis a course for liberal arts students who wish to have a deeper understanding of the world they live in – something ever more important as our society becomes more and more technologically dependent. This coursewillsurveyourrelianceonnaturalresourcesrelating tofood,water,energy,economicandagriculturalproducts,wastedisposal,andhuman health.Emphasiswillbegivenonmakingchoicesthatminimizeenvironmentalabuse.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about environmental issues, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of chemistry, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Learn what energy resources are used primarily for electricity and transportation

·Identify the promises and limitations of green energy

·Learn how to use resources sustainably

·Understand how resource sustainability is short-circuited by pollution

·Learn how to maximize resource availability through sustainable human behavior

·Question the economic philosophy of unlimited growth

·Understand the direct connection between human numbers and resource use

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about natural phenomena

·Understand the ways human choices affect the earth and living systems and the responsibilities of individual citizens and communities to preserve global resources

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessment

Students are required to complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester.

The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.


CORE 275 – Genetics

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of genetics, both human and non-human. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives.

III. Course Description

Genetics: Current Knowledge and Applicationsis a course for liberal arts students who wish to have a deeper understanding of genetics, both human and non-human. The goal of this course is to instill in the student a broad base of knowledge concerning the study and application of genetics in the areas of medicine (gene therapy), scientific research (trends), and agricultural application (genetically modified crops).

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about genetics, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of chemistry, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Become familiar with the basic ideas and vocabulary of genetics in the study of human medicine, genetic research, and genetic manipulation.

·Gain a historical perspective on the beginnings of the study of the science of genetics.

·Examine examples from your own experience demonstrating the concepts of genetics.

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about natural phenomena

·understand and appreciate the science underlying the study of and genetic manipulation of an organisms genetic make-up

·apply this knowledge to your understanding of the past, especially how the science and technology of genetics has influenced current medicine and agricultural trends

·become a more careful and thoughtful reader of articles based on published scientific discourse.

·Understand the ways human choices affect the earth and living systems and the responsibilities of individual citizens and communities to preserve global resources

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessment

Students are required to complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester.

The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.


CORE 276 – Forensic Biology

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of the basic principles of forensic biology and their relevance to society. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives.

III. Course Description

Forensics Biology is a course that is designed as an introduction for forensic science and criminal justice students but is equally valuable for liberal arts students who wish to have a deeper understanding of the world they live in – something ever more important as our society becomes more and more technologically dependent. The diversity of the fields of study grouped under the umbrella of forensic biology will be discussed. The education, training and specialization involved in actual forensic science will be compared to the CSI-style misunderstanding of forensics. Topics include, but are not limited to sample collection, documentation, forensic anthropology, serology, DNA analysis, and factors affecting decomposition. This course places a strong emphasis on “hands on” experimentation collection and analysis of student produced data and evaluation of experimental procedures.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about biology, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of biology, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Learn how scientific evidence is used in a court of law.

·Understand the environmental factors that can degrade the integrity of forensic evidence.

·Discriminate between identification and individualization of forensic evidence.

·Describe the differences between tests based on DNA, Enzymes or Epitopes.

·Calculate the identifying power (or lack thereof) of DNA samples collected as evidence.

·Learn basic human anatomy and role Forensic Anthropology plays in identification of victims.

·Explore the factors necessary to detect and classify fingerprint evidence.

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about natural phenomena

·Form an appreciation and understanding of the role of forensics in everyday experiences and technology

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of forensic science

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessment

All students satisfying the Natural Science II requirement in the Core Curriculum will:

1.Complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester. The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.

2.Complete a writing assignment or research project about a current topic in the science discipline. For this assignment, students will be asked to, among other things,identify "real science" versus "pseudoscience" in the context of the course and apply the concepts learned in CORE 270 to a real-life example in the specific scientific discipline.


CORE 277 – Conceptual Physics

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of elementary physics and its relevance to society. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives.

III. Course Description

Conceptual Physicsis a course for liberal arts students who wish to have a deeper understanding of the world they live in – something ever more important as our society becomes more and more technologically dependent. This course is descriptive and conceptual there will be no rigorous mathematics required. During the semester, we will investigate the underlying rules of physics in our universe and how those rules are related to modern technologies/Hollywood movies/comic book superheroes.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about physics, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of physics, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Develop a general understanding of the characteristics of motion and forces

·Observe the fundamental conservation laws

·Form a general understanding of the properties of matter and the transfer of heat and energy

·Develop a conceptual understanding of the basic laws of electricity and magnetism

·Learn the basic ideas and vocabulary in classical physics

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Acquire an ability to reason qualitatively and logically about physics phenomena

·Form an appreciation and understanding of the role of physics in everyday experiences and technology

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

·Appreciate how knowledge of our physical world has influenced history

·Analyze current and historical political and social trends with eye toward distinguishing between the limits physics places on human activity and the limits that are dictated by other considerations.

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessment

All students satisfying the Natural Science II requirement in the Core Curriculum will:

1.Complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester. The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.

2.Complete a writing assignment or research project about a current topic in the science discipline. For this assignment, students will be asked to, among other things,identify "real science" versus "pseudoscience" in the context of the course and apply the concepts learned in CORE 270 to a real-life example in the specific scientific discipline.


CORE 278 – Forensic Science

Master Syllabus

I. Course Specific Information

  • Instructor Name:
  • Contact Information:
  • Office Location:
  • Office Hours:
  • Class Location & Times:

II. Course Purpose

This 3-credit course is an introductory study of the scientificprinciplesandtheirpracticalapplicationstoforensicproblemswithafocusontheanalysisofevidenceinlegalcases. It will build upontheessentialconcepts,universaltoallthenaturalsciences,exploredin CORE270. As such, all students enrolled in this course should have previously passed CORE 270: Natural Science Perspectives. This course is cross-listed as FS 278.

III. Course Description

Forensic Scienceis a course for liberal arts students who wish to have a deeper understanding of the role of science in criminal investigations. The course will use forensic questions as a vehicle to introduce scientific principles and their application to practical problems. The focus is on the analysis of evidence in legal cases. Topicsincludecomparisons oftoolmarks,firearms,fingerprints,traceevidence,drugsandbloodstains.Propertechniquesofevidencecollectionandhandlingwill bediscussedfrombothlegalandscientific viewpoints,aswellastheadvantagesandlimitationsofpresentlyutilizedmethodsof analysis.

IV. Course Goals and Objectives

Although this is specifically a course about forensics, it is, more generally, a course about science. You will be expected to learn the main ideas of forensic science, but you should also leave the course with a better understanding of the process of science – the process by which scientists ask questions of nature and gradually puzzle out the beautiful secrets of the physical world.

Specifically, you can expect to:

·Understand the workings of a crime scene and the role of the forensic scientist

·Apply proper techniques for collecting and handling evidence

·Identify important evidence when analyzing soil samples, glass samples and fingerprints

·Understand how the fundamental properties of light and atoms enable scientists to use spectroscopy and chromatography to analyze crime samples

·Learn how toxicology can be used to identify drugs and alcohol present in samples of evidence

·Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of DNA analysis

·Interpret bloodstain patterns to determine the location and type of trauma

·Identify the limitations of forensic science

And, more broadly, you can hope to:

·Enhance problem solving and critical thinking skills

·Demonstrate how scientific knowledge can be useful in resolving disagreement

·Show how scientific knowledge can assist the judicial process

·Form a basis for understanding the chemical and biological aspects of drug and alcohol abuse problems

·Develop a positive attitude and an interest in the life-long learning of physical science

·Understand the uses, methodology and limitations of science and the use of scientific theory as an aid to understanding events such as the analysis and use of scientific evidence in the legal system.

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course promotes some general liberal learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

·To recognize the ways in which the laws of nature shape all human activities

·To understand how scientific knowledge is established

·To understand the limitations of scientific knowledge

·To use basic scientific concepts and critical thinking to understand new or unfamiliar technology

·To read and appreciate scientific articles written for the general public

·To communicate effectively and intelligently with others about recent discoveries and trends in the natural sciences

V. Required Text

At the discretion of the instructor.

VI. Required Assessments

All students satisfying the Natural Science II requirement in the Core Curriculum will:

1.Complete the Natural Sciences Questionnaire posted on Moodle during the last three weeks of the semester. The questionnaire (the EBAPS) is a multiple-choice instrument designed to probe students' views and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning in the physical sciences.

2.Complete a writing assignment or research project about a current topic in the science discipline. For this assignment, students will be asked to, among other things,identify "real science" versus "pseudoscience" in the context of the course and apply the concepts learned in CORE 270 to a real-life example in the specific scientific discipline.