Duke’s Focus Program (FOCUS) is an exciting opportunity for students to explore ideas from the vantage point of different disciplines across the humanities, sciences and social sciences during their first semester at Duke.
The Focus Program offers these extraordinary opportunities to first-year, first-semester students:
The Duke Initiative for Science & Society organizes the curriculum for the Science and the Public cluster.
The aim of this Focus cluster is to take a scholarly, interdisciplinary and, we hope, fun approach to science and technology and the ways in which they reach the public. Our cluster will be a cohort of four courses dedicated to various aspects of science’s place in the world, including:
The weekly interdisciplinary discussion course will be dedicated to science communication and science outreach. Each course will explore, to varying degrees, “how the sausage gets made,” i.e., how science and technology happen; what becomes of them once they do happen; how they are conveyed to various publics; and stakeholder responses to them.
Jory Weintraub, Senior Lecturing Fellow and Science Communication Director, Duke Initiative for Science & Society.
Since the dawning of the “pop culture” era (however one defines that), science and popular culture have been inextricably linked. This course will explore the relationship between the two, examining how science is, and has historically been portrayed through pop culture outlets, such as film, television, music, videogames, fashion, sports, and news/politics. It will examine how these portrayals of science have affected public perception of, and support for science, as well as how the pop culture media have affected the “doing” of science. Conversely, it will explore how scientific/technological advances have formed and shaped pop culture.
Misha Angrist, Associate Professor of the Practice at SSRI, a Senior Fellow in Science & Society, and Visiting Associate Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy as part of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy.
In the 1960s, patients appropriated the language and tactics of the civil rights movement to advance clinical and research agendas. Today patient activism is evolving, leading to new solutions, dilemmas, and organizational structures. This course will examine patient and research participant activism and the ways it challenges conventional notions of expertise, amateurism, “human subjects protections,” and minimization of risk. Students will bring the tools of journalism, anthropology, humanities scholarship, public policy and community engagement/citizen science to bear on ethical and policy questions.
Janet Prvu Bettgr, Director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
Yousef Zafar, Associate Professor of Medicine
What are the government policies that support science? How is science regulated and controlled? What can science contribute to law and policy? How do the states and the federal government interact to set science policy? How do disparate regulations and law impact research and translation? How is scientific research funded? Why is there so much distrust of science? We will explore these questions and more by looking at the various interactions of law, science, and policy.
Mark Delong, Director of Duke Research Computing,
From mobile phones to driverless cars, modern high-tech devices have important human-facing and human-obscured elements that shape our relationships with technology. Some integrate seamlessly into our daily lives, others frustrate us, and some simply captivate us. In this course, we will investigate how the design, development, and usage of these technologies impact contemporary human societies. Topics will include design principles, data collection & usage, accessibility, usability, safety, ethics, societal impact and performance. Case studies used in the course will include a variety of past and current technologies, as well as emerging systems such as brain-computer interfaces, autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence.
Miriam Ehrensaft, Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Introduction to theories of criminal behavior from developmental and psychological perspectives, with focus on scientific and public perspectives. Investigate risk and protective factors influencing the development of delinquency and crime, systemic and sociocultural factors, ethical controversies, and applied topics in criminal behavior. Students critically evaluate, synthesize, and debate cases in context of current empirical research. Interactive learning emphasized. Open only to students in the Focus Program.