2020 Essence of Humanities and Social Sciences37:History of Science

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Academic unit or major
Humanities and social science courses
Takuwa Yoshimi 
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Course description and aims

This lecture offers the history of science as examples to think about scientists’ lives in society.
In particular, each class focuses on a historical scientist and compares extracts of primary source materials (his/her own writings), secondary source materials (biographies or commentaries) and biographical videos. Students will examine the differences of the descriptions in these materials and consider how scientists’ lives and achievements are accepted in society.

Student learning outcomes

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
1) Grasp scientists’ lives and achievements from multiple points of view.
2) Acquire basic knowledge to deliver their opinions about how scientists should behave from multiple points of view.


History of Science, History of Philosophy, Scientist, Society

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Each class consists of a short lecture on a scientist’s achievements and related history, and a comparative survey of primary source materials, secondary source materials and videos. Materials are read aloud in turn with a group.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Guidance: Aristotle and nature Taking Aristotle as an example, understand philosophers in ancient Greece.
Class 2 Leonardo da Vinci and inventions Taking da Vinci as an example, understand superior artisans in the Renaissance period.
Class 3 Galileo Galilei and experiments Taking Galilei as an example, understand Court Philosophers in the early 17th century.
Class 4 Isaac Newton and mathematics Taking Newton as an example, understand mathematics and universities in the late 17th century.
Class 5 Antoine Lavoisier and chemistry Taking Lavoisier as an example, understand chemistry and academies in the 18th century.
Class 6 Marie Curie and radioactivity Taking Curie as an example, understand physics in the late 19th century as well as women in science.
Class 7 James Watson and DNA Taking Watson as an example, understand biology and academic competitions in the 20th century.

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


None required.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Kiyonobu Itakura, A Short Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (Kasetsusya, 2000). (Japanese text)

Assessment criteria and methods

Engagement to the class (attendance and short reports) 50 %, Final report 50 %

Related courses

  • LAH.S441 : Essence of Humanities and Social Sciences41:History of Mathematical Sciences
  • LAH.T420 : Transdisciplinary studies20 :Mathematics Learn from History
  • LAH.T416 : Transdisciplinary studies 16:Science and Technology in Society

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Mainly use materials and videos translated in Japanese and partially use videos in English.
It is preferable to have intermediate-level capacity for reading Japanese and elementary-level capacity for listening to English.


No classes will be given on April 8 (Wed) .
Six total classes will be held for this course: April 15 (Wed), April 22(Wed), May 13 (Wed), May 20 (Wed), May 27(Wed), June 3 (Wed), plus online assignments to substitute for the seventh class.

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