Truth and Reason

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Spring 2018 quarter

Taught by

ecology, plant biology
physics, education

While the current headlines and stories focus on "the post-truth era," the task of separating truth from fiction has been a struggle throughout history. One of the key turning points was the development of what is now called "scientific reasoning." In this program, we will explore that historical development while providing opportunities to further develop our own scientific thinking and integrative reasoning skills. The context for this development will focus on issues that have strong scientific foundations but remain targets of debate—issues such as the theory of evolution, the use of vaccines, and the observed changes in Earth's climate. We will learn about the scientific method of observation, reasoning, and hypothesis testing while looking at how the social, cultural, and political context can affect debates and decisions. We’ll read articles from both scientific and popular literature, develop skills in quantitative reasoning and interpretation of data, and evaluate the assumptions of various advocacy organizations. Students will develop their ability to present well-reasoned arguments through frequent writing assignments and group discussions.

Program Details

Fields of Study

philosophy of science

Preparatory For

science, policy, and advocacy.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered

Evening and Weekend

Advertised Schedule

6-10p Wed and 9a-4:30p Sat

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning