Unit 3: Global Science


In an increasingly interconnected world, science is happening 24-hours a day in every time-zone around the world. The Internet has contributed to a sharing of information and ideas unprecedented in world history, challenging Western frameworks for understanding what science is and what counts as scientific knowledge. In addition, scientific concerns with a global scope like climate change and species extinction require global partnerships and knowledge sharing if we are to address them meaningfully. These pressing issues raise significant questions about historical impacts of Western colonialization, the loss and suppression of traditional knowledge forms, and human attitudes toward other forms of life. These issues and others have set the stage for new modes of transhuman and transspecies cooperation and understanding in the twenty-first century but also remind us that humanity now faces a global environmental crisis of our own making that is unprecedented in the history of our planet.

The readings in this unit ask:

  1. What issues and problems regarding scientific research and cultural (mis)understanding exist around the world?
  2. What role does (or should) belief play in science?
  3. Should Western science be valued over other forms of knowledge?
  4. Should science value objectivity over humanistic and/or transhuman concerns?
  5. How are traditional knowledge forms being incorporated into scientific research/education?
  6. How should modern scientific culture address problems resulting from Western civilization’s colonial past?
  7. Is rational scientific understanding enough to create a better world/future?
  8. Have you ever had a pet or met an animal you would consider “intelligent”?
  9. Do you think science fiction stories can lead to future scientific or technological breakthroughs?


“When the East Meets the West: The Future of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 21st Century”

Qiu, Jane. “When the East Meets the West: The Future of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 21st Century.” National Science Review, vol. 2, no. 3, 1 Sept. 2015, pp. 377–380.

Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have anything to offer Western science and medicine, or should its philosophy and approaches to healthcare be considered pseudoscientific? In this forum, six panelists from diverse medical, governmental, and scientific backgrounds discuss “the differences between [Traditional Chinese Medicine] and Western science and medicine, recent progress in TCM research, and key challenges in modernizing this ancient practice.”

Must be logged into UO library account to access article.

“Climate Change and the Significance of Religion.”

Hulme, Mike. “Climate Change and the Significance of Religion.” Economic and Political Weekly, 15 July 2017.

In this essay, Mike Hulme, professor of climate and culture at King’s College in London, argues that religions matter when it comes to addressing the major environmental problems facing society today. He suggests that national and international climate policies need to tap into the “intrinsic, deeply-held values and motives” of religious communities as a political resource “if cultural innovation and change are to be lasting and effective.” 

“The Science of Black Panther

Howell, Andy. “The Science of Black Panther.” Film Threat. 22 January 2019. https://filmthreat.com/features/the-science-of-black-panther/

In this article, University of California Santa Barbara physicist and astronomer Andy Howell examines the real-world science behind the hit Marvel movie Black Panther, one of the top-earning films of this century. Howell discusses such aspects of the film as Vibranium, holograms, and the depiction of women scientists. Those interested in Howell’s article may also be curious to learn more about Afrofuturism (a subgenre of science fiction focused on representing Black culture) and science and technology in Africa by clicking the links in this description.


“Minds of Their Own: Animals are Smarter Than You Think”

Morell, Virginia and Jennifer S. Holland, “Minds of Their Own: Animals are Smarter Than You Think.” National Geographic, vol. 213, no. 3, March 2008, pp. 36-61.

This popular magazine article explores how some scientists are using innovative, collaborative methods for researching animal cognition, as well as the implied threat of these findings toward what many scientists have long believed made human beings distinctive.

Must be logged into UO library account to access article. 


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