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.
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. Open only to students in the Science & the Public Focus cluster.
Michael Waitzkin, Deputy Director of Science & Society and Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke University
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. Open only to students in the Science & the Public Focus cluster.
Jules Odendahl-James, Director of Academic Engagement for the Humanities
This course combines a historical survey of science-themed plays with an examination of sci+arts initiatives such as the University of Western Australia’s Symbiotica; the Art & Science Laboratory in New mexico; and the Uk’s Centre for Performance Science. Central course questions: How can performing arts improve public awareness and knowledge about complex scientific ideas and research? What points of view and methods of research do artists bring to scientific inquiry and vice-versa? We will pay particular attention to secondary schools, contemporary art installations, and science museums as public laboratories for experimental, embodied collaborations across the two disciplines. Open only to students in the Science & the Public Focus cluster.
Michael Clamann, SciPol Lead Editor Robotics and Artificial Intelligence and Senior Research Scientist, Duke Robotics
From mobile phones to driverless cars, modern high-tech devices have important human-facing 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 the intersection between people and technology to better understand how design can influence performance, safety and user satisfaction. Topics will include design principles; usability and user experience concepts; and an overview of human strengths and limitations that influence our interactions with technology. 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, robotics and artificial intelligence. Open only to students in the Science & the Public Focus cluster.