What is scientific method and how is it used appropriately? How are problems formulated, research questions designed, tests and other measurements constructed, data gathered and analyzed, conclusions drawn, and findings incorporated into theories? Using scientific topics drawn from the headlines --evolution, ecology, stem cell research in genetics, astronomy, and neuroscience--this course provides an overview of basic science, emerging technologies, and lingering questions.
Digitization influences nearly all aspects of life today: how we communicate, conduct business, operate governments, and employ other technologies. This course provides opportunities to learn the fundamental processes of digitization and how hardware, software, and human uses of digital technologies are transforming life across the globe. Students also explore the controversies and ethical dilemmas spawned by digitization, including organizational change, privacy, security, online relationships, and globalization.
Numbers provide a language for reasoning. Numbers are used to quantify data, analyze trends and exceptions, and establish the reliability of conclusions. Using practical problems from business, health care, social services, and government operations, this course provides the opportunity to learn how basic concepts from mathematics can be applied in organizational settings.
Organizations today purchase technology to solve business problems. This course introduces students to business processes and requirements that can profit from the application of computer technologies. Students develop an understanding of business functions, requirement definition, process mapping, and selection and implementation of appropriate software applications. Topics include such items as System Development Lifecycle (SDLC), process engineering, Enterprise Resource Productivity (ERP), and how to build a case for a particular computer technology application.
How are research studies designed and conducted and how is quantitative analysis used to analyze and support such findings? This course provides the opportunity to become literate in reading and understanding the basic research done in the sciences and social sciences and reported in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. Using actual examples of research studies, this course provides an introduction to how to read and evaluate studies in a variety of fields. Students learn to look for operationalized constructs and relationships among variables; to recognize what is required for measurement to be valid, reliable, and unbiased; to distinguish between correlation and causation in laboratory and field settings; and how to know the difference between random and convenience samples and the effects these have on the conclusions drawn. Students will also develop skills in recognizing flaws in research designs; how to become critical consumers of research reports; and the basic professional ethics for conducting research, including informed consent, voluntary participation, and the risk/benefit ratio.
In organizational settings, data becomes meaningful for decision making only when it is interpreted. Such things as determining averages, noting differences, describing relationships, and projecting trends are all part of a larger process of analyzing and interpreting data. In this course, students learn how to use basic statistical techniques to describe and make inferences about data that has been collected for studies and reports. Topics include measures of central tendency (means, medians, modes, standard deviations); tests of difference; measures of strength of relationships among variables (correlation and regression); classic procedures for representing the strength and probable accuracy of findings (significance tests and confidence intervals); and modeling trends over time. Students will also learn how computers are used to analyze data and how data can be represented in spreadsheets, graphs, figures, and illustrations.
Scientists within the various disciplines of the sciences - biology, chemistry, physics - pursue knowledge according to the interests, problems, and structures of previous knowledge within their field. They communicate with other scientists internationally, and their findings are reviewed and retested by peers. The discoveries they produce are often taken up and applied to various practical problems and opportunities in daily life. The focus of this course is on understanding how scientific discoveries are used as the basis for the development of technologies useful in manufacturing processes, healthcare, transportation, national defense, energy, and consumer products. Case studies will be used to understand how some technologies become successful in the marketplace while others, thought to have promise, do not become widely used. The case studies on technological applications of scientific discoveries also explore the processes involved in moving from science to technology to the market: financial and organizational structures used, potential conflicts over rights of ownership, and ethical issues that surface.
The last fifty years in science have produced amazing new discoveries and reorganized thinking in several basic fields. What are some of the most important scientific breakthroughs in recent times and what is the state of knowledge in those areas? This course provides opportunities to reflect on the future of scientific research. What are the most likely scientific discoveries in the next 25 to 50 years? What conceptual breakthroughs and new technologies will be needed to take scientific understanding and technological applications to the next level in selected fields? What are the likely implications for life in the years ahead? This course also addresses the issue of "Scientific taboo" - what science should or should not study and whether scientific and technological inquiry can be slowed down or stopped.