*NEW* FALL 2020 - Science in the Public Eye

LS 760-35 - Science in the Public Eye
Fall 2020
Tuesdays, 6:15-8:45 pm
GLS Conference Room

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Understanding the role of science in everyday life is a critical aspect of modern society. Science is often discussed through social media, news outlets, and politics without details of the underlying concepts. “Science in the Public Eye” is designed to give all students taking it a broad introduction to fundamental scientific concepts, expose them to the natural world, and make them a more informed citizen. In this course, students will investigate topics that are often discussed through these platforms. We will explore the science behind the topic, popular opinions, and discuss misconceptions. We will focus on topics ranging from vaccinations, disease epidemics, genetically modified organisms, and antibiotic resistance to the Endangered Species Act and climate change. Our main goal through our classroom discussions will be to focus on effective communication of the topic. 

Each week we will read and discuss scientific and nonscientific readings on the assigned topic. We will compare and contrast the readings and discuss misconceptions that the general public might get from only reading nonscientific articles. Students will work individually or in pairs to lead one of the weekly discussions. Students will also research a recent topic in the news and prepare a 5-7 minute presentation on the topic. In addition, students will work in groups to prepare an educational video or other form of scientific communication (podcast, infographic, newspaper column, etc.) geared towards any age group about a topic related to the course. 


Laurie Mauger is a Lecturer in the Department of Biology. She received her Ph.D. in 2010 from Drexel University on population genetics and conservation of American crocodiles in Costa Rica. Since graduating, her research has focused on involving undergraduate students in research on projects focusing on population genetics of crocodiles, caterpillars, ringtail cats, and ants. Today, Dr. Mauger focuses mainly on pedagogical research investigating the impact of course-based research projects on student learning and attitude towards science and nature. She has published 5 scientific papers and is working with students to submit several more. Dr. Mauger has taught a variety undergraduate level courses on genetics, evolution, general biology, conservation biology at institutions such as Princeton University, Drexel University, and Southern University and a graduate level course in population genetics at Cedar Crest College. She joined the faculty at Duke in 2018.