Academics

Students earn 6 hours of UNC graded credit through the following two courses:

BIOL 490H (3 Credit Hours)
Discoveries in Prevention and Cure of Infectious Disease in London

Professor: Ann Matthysse

Major Credit: Biology (above 400-level)

Pre-Requisite: BIOL 202 (In special cases, it may be possible to substitute independent work done prior to the course for Biology 202. Please contact Dr. Matthyse directly regarding this arrangement.)

This course will examine three major discoveries concerning the prevention and cure of infectious diseases made in and around London during the eighteenth to twentieth centuries (vaccination, transmission of cholera by contaminated water, and penicillin). Particular attention will be paid to how the thought patterns and assumptions of the society and the scientific community determine what questions a scientist is likely to ask and the kind of answers he will obtain. The role and importance of communicating scientific discoveries to other scientists and the public will also be explored.

The course is divided in five sections. The first will provide general background in microbiology for students who have taken molecular biology. The remaining segments will deal with the plague of 1665, Jenner’s invention of vaccination, Snow’s discovery of the route of transmission of cholera, and Fleming’s discovery of penicillin. In each of these segments we will begin by looking briefly at what is known about the topic today, examine common knowledge just prior to the discovery, and read the original report of the discovery. Then we will examine how the discovery was communicated to society, how it was used and whether or not there were negative reactions to the discovery. We will end each segment by looking at similar problems today. London has an abundance of science museums and other relevant sites that will help us understand each of these topics.

HNRS 355 (3 Credit Hours)
London in Literature: Disease and Science

Taught by London-based faculty

Approaches: Literary Arts (LA), Experiential Education (EE)

Minor Credit: Interdisciplinary Honors Minor in Medicine, Literature, and Culture

In conjunction with Biology 490H, this course focuses on the role of imaginative literature in reflecting and shaping the assumptions of a changing urban society. Through reading of selected texts from Shakespeare’s time through the 20th century, we will observe major shifts in attitudes toward disease and medicine and toward life and death as well. Though 21st century London has in some ways changed beyond recognition from the city of Shakespeare, Defoe, Wordsworth, Dickens, or even Woolf, enough traces remain to make the reading of their works here an enlightening experience, so that walking will join reading, writing, and discussion as a core course activity.

The combination of these two courses will offer students an unusual opportunity to combine advanced work in Biology with studies of the influence of society on science and the importance of communicating scientific findings to others.