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Science in Literature: Reflections on the Social Constructs of Science in Society

Course: OEAS/ENMA 795/895 Advanced/Special Topics (three credits);
Course title: Science in literature: reflections on the social constructs of science in society;
Instructors: Dr. Hans-Peter Plag, Dr. Michelle Covi, Michelle Heart;
Term: Fall 2014.

Course description: In this course, students will critically examine literature with the goal of developing skills in the understanding of scientific discourse and its rhetorical frames. Students will specifically explore examples from environmental literature while studying the use of scientific knowledge in public media, the political and the societal discourse in environmental issues (with a focus on climate change), and the use of scientific reasoning in science fiction and climate fiction.

Learning goals of the course

Students will:


Offices and Office Hours:

Dr. Hans-Peter Plag
4111 Monarch Way, Room 3211
p: 683-5335/773-4803, skype: hpplag
e: hpplag at (preferred mode of contact)
Office hours: by appointment
Dr. Michelle Covi
4111 Monarch Way, Room 3212
p: 683-5335
e: mcovi at
Office hours: by appointment
Michelle Heart
Office: BAL 8045, e: mheart at
Office hours: MW: 1:00-2:30 pm, TR: 2:00-4:00 pm

For policies (Special Needs, Late Assignments, Grading) see here.

Prerequistes: N/A

Reading List: Is available here.

Time: Fridays, 11:15-2:00 PM

Room: 1st week, see note above. Other weeks: TBD


There will be weekly homework, mainly reading. Students are asked to come up with a weekly discussion thread & question to be explored also. One of the essentials of the course is to help the students to come up with good questions, rather than the answers. Our traditional system focused on “answers” creates a bit of an intellectual laziness and sometimes the best solutions are found in best questions, not otherwise. In our scheduling, we also leave room for an element of a surprise/something to be discovered during the course of the semester. Therefore, there may be changes to the weekly schedule.