History of Science

The Departmentof the History of Science offers a secondary field in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. This field gives students concentrating in other departments an opportunity to take a coherent cluster of courses in the history of science, technology, and medicine. The program is designed to give students, first, a foundational sense of the field, then, permit them to do more advanced work, including courses that will allow them to focus on particular interests and to do original research and other projects.

Requirements: 5 half-courses

  1. History of Science 100: Knowing the World: Introduction to the History of Science.

  2. One "gateway" course: a course of wide scope but focusing on a specific area in the history of science, technology, or medicine. Gateway courses include (currently-offered lists are kept on the department website):

    • Historical Study A-34: Medicine and Society in America

    • Historical Study A-87: Madness and Medicine: Themes in the History of Psychiatry

    • Historical Study B-45: The Darwinian Revolution

    • Science A-41: The Einstein Revolution

    • History of Science 120: History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

    • History of Science 131: History of Biology

    • History of Science 136v: History of Biotechnology: 1900 to the Present

    • History of Science 148v: Alcohol and Drugs in American Society

    • History of Science 161: The Scientific Revolution

    • History of Science 186: History of Technology: From the Printing Press to the Internet

  3. Three elective courses in the history of science, ordinarily chosen from the 100-level courses in the History of Science chapter of Courses of Instruction.

    • 200-level courses may be taken only with the permission of the instructor.

    • Students may use one (but no more) of their three elective courses to take an additional gateway course.

    • One Freshman Seminar taught by a department faculty member may be counted as one of the three elective courses.

    • Students will be permitted to take one (but no more) of their three elective courses outside the department, choosing alternatives from a regularly updated list of approved courses posted on the department website (all cross-listed courses printed in the Courses of Instruction count automatically in this category).

Other Information

With the exception of Freshman Seminars taught by department faculty members, all courses must be letter-graded. There is no minimum passing grade for courses to count towards the secondary field.

Decisions about whether courses from study abroad, Harvard Summer School, or other Harvard schools will count for the secondary field will be made on a case-by-case basis by the director of undergraduate studies.

In department courses with limited enrollment, first priority will be given to History and Science concentrators; students affirming that they are doing the secondary field in History of Science will have next priority.

Advising Resources and Expectations

Secondary field advising will be offered by Alice Belser, manager of student programs (ajbelser@fas.harvard.edu), and by Prof. Steven Shapin, director of undergraduate studies (shapin@fas.harvard.edu).