Science, Medicine, and Society: Past and Present (Minor)

How are science, technology, and medicine shaped by our society? You can use this new minor to explore those relationships, whether you have a background in the sciences or the humanities. We explore the growth, development, and impact of technical fields using disciplines from literature to philosophy to history.

For more information, contact the director of the minor:

Why Study Science, Medicine, and Society?

This minor represents an enthusiastic response within the humanities and social sciences to recent developments within the sciences. In particular, we seek to respond to the recent convergence within fields of science, technology, and medicine—as in, for instance, the booming fields of biotechnology, the increasingly interdisciplinary questions of environmental sciences, and hybrid fields such as medical engineering and photochemistry. This minor reflects this challenging but exciting convergence in many fields in the sciences—a convergence that is at once modern and deeply historically rooted.

If you are thinking of entering one of the health professions, this minor will provide you with intellectual breadth that will help ground you as a practitioner. As you talk with patients, it will help you to understand more about diverse cultures, the history of healing practices, and the sociology and anthropology of health practices.

Additionally, the science, medicine, and society minor will help equip pre-meds for the entrance requirements for medical school. Beginning January 2015, the MCAT exam involves a new “Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills” section. This section will challenge you to read passages in the humanities and social sciences and discuss their arguments. Studying how the humanities and the social sciences engage with medicine and the sciences will give you practice and intellectual perspective for this portion of the MCAT.

For pre-meds and students in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, as well as for those in allied fields such as health law and health administration, this minor will provide historical and cultural grounding for future professional work. Thinking critically about your chosen field and knowing how our current practices developed, will help you stay focused and effective in later health careers.

Science majors will similarly benefit from practices in writing, critical thinking, and source citation that will help in future careers. Knowing how and why we engage in “the scientific method” and seeing the historical growth of the various scientific disciplines can give you valuable perspectives on the material you learn in science courses.

Whatever your major—humanities or sciences—this minor is designed to provide a background framework for understanding the complex scientific and medical systems that shape our most forward-thinking research, as well as our everyday world.

Structure of the Minor

This minor requires students to take at least two survey courses, which focus on the development of trends, techniques and knowledge over two to two-and-a-half centuries. (The one exception is Classics 294, which embraces classical Greece and Rome over five centuries.) After completing this first requirement, minors will take four courses that explore in-depth developments with tighter thematic and geographic limitations. These courses are intended to allow students to pursue their research and professional interests.


The minor requires students to take 6 courses, 2 of which must be from “Level 1" and 2 from "Level 2." The final 2 classes may be taken from either level.

Level 1

Level 2