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How Do We Know? Theory and Practice of Science

1st term
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Instruction Method:
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructors:
Gundula Bosch

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses.


Do you love to "think science"? Would you enjoy looking at scientific questions through an unusual lens? Do you find stories about scientific discoveries fascinating, and would you like to learn more about what they mean to our scientific practice? Then this course is for you!

This course is part of the R3 Science Education Initiative series (

Examines the nature and philosophical foundations of science using an interdisciplinary approach that emphasizes critical thinking and storytelling; discusses the principles of good scientific practice – rigor, reproducibility and responsibility (the 3R's) - by exploring revolutionary discoveries in the life, public health and natural sciences; elaborates the relationship between theory, practice and serendipity in scientific discovery, and concludes with a discussion of the role of scientists in society.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze the notions of "science", "knowledge", "paradigm" and "truth"
  2. Appraise the impact of revolutionary discoveries on the evolution of scientific knowledge and beliefs
  3. Employ the norms of science – rigor, responsibility and reproducibility (the 3 “R’s”) - in scientific practice
  4. Demonstrate understanding of scientific core concepts and methods through effective communication with peer and lay audiences
  5. Evaluate the role of scientists in society
Methods of Assessment:

Participation in discussions and peer feedback: 30% - Short reflection papers: 30%, Final project and presentation: 40 %

Instructor Consent:

No consent required