Professor: Brian Morton (Biological Sciences)
Assistant Professor: Amy Zhou (Sociology) 

Professor: Timothy Halpin-Healy (Physics & Astronomy)

Requirements for the Science, Policy, & Ethics Minor

The minor in Science, Policy, & Ethics requires five courses total: two core SCPP seminars, one introductory course in philosophy, and two additional courses. 

1. Core SCPP Seminars
SCPP BC3334Science, State Power & Ethics4
If course offerings restrict availability, then, with the approval of the SCPP Director, one of the SCPP core seminars may be replaced by a course from the list of Additional Courses below.
2. Introductory Philosophy
PHIL BC1001Introduction to Philosophy3
3. Additional Courses
Two courses from the following:
BIOL UN3995 (Section 1)Topics in Biology: Crossroads in Bioethics1-2
COMS BC3420Privacy in a Networked World4
EEEB GU4005Conservation Policy3
EEEB GU4321Human Nature: DNA, Race & Identity4
EEEB GU4700Race: The Tangled History of a Biological Concept4
EESC BC3040Environmental Law3
or SDEV UN2000 Introduction to Environmental Law
HIST BC3910Global Politics of Reproduction: Culture, Politics, and History4
HRTS UN3001Introduction to Human Rights3
HRTS BC3850Human Rights and Public Health4
HSPB UN2950Social History of American Public Health4
PHIL V2593Science and Religion3
PHIL UN2702Contemporary Moral Problems3
PHIL UN3654Philosophy of Psychology3
PHIL V3720Ethics and Medicine3
PSYC BC3387Topics in Neuroethics4
PUBH UN3100Fundamentals of Global Health3
PUBH UN3400Data Science and Health Equity in New York City3
SDEV UN2050Environmental Policy and Governance3
SDEV UN3355Climate Change and Law3
SOCI UN3246Medical Sociology3
SOCI BC3750How Race Gets Under Our Skin: The Sociology of Race, Health, and Biomedicine4
WMST BC3131Women and Science4

SCPP BC3334 Science, State Power & Ethics. 4 points.


A comparative study of science in the service of the State in the U.S., the former Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany during pivotal periods through the first half of the 20th century. Topics to be covered include the political and moral consequences of policies based upon advances in the natural sciences making possible the development of TNT, nerve gas, uranium fission and hydrogen fusion atomic bombs. Considers the tensions involved in balancing scientific imperatives, patriotic commitment to the nation-state, and universal moral principles and tensions faced by Robert Oppenheimer, Andrei Sakharov, Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. Selected readings include: Michael Frayn's play Copenhagen, Hitler's Uranium Club by Jeremy Bernstein, Brecht's Galileo, John McPhee's The Curve of Binding Energy, Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

Spring 2021: SCPP BC3334
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SCPP 3334 001/00645 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Timothy Halpin-Healy 4 11/10


An exploration of the growing knowledge and technological advances in genetics, with a focus on human genetics, using scientific, popular and artistic sources. The course will cover areas such as genetic testing, personalized medicine, ancestry analysis, genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9, stem cells and cloning. It will involve an examination of scientific sources, portrayals in popular culture and discussions of some of the ethical implications and social/political impacts

Spring 2021: SCPP BC3336
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SCPP 3336 001/00141 T Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Brian Morton 4.00 13/12
Fall 2021: SCPP BC3336
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SCPP 3336 001/00218 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Ll001 Milstein Center
Brian Morton 4.00 11/12

SCPP BC3340 Exhibitions: Engaging Public Understanding. 1 point.

Not offered during 2021-22 academic year.

Corequisites: Enrollment limited to 18 students.

Museum exhibitions educate the public, inform discourse, and shape opinion. Students work with curators and exhibition designers on conceptualization and research, design and preparation, writing interpretative material, and developing media and ancillary programming. Students engage in the communication of learning goals through both the exhibition's content and its physical manifestation.

Cross-Listed Courses

PHIL BC1001 Introduction to Philosophy. 3 points.

Survey of some of the central problems, key figures, and great works in both traditional and contemporary philosophy.  Topics and texts will vary with instructor and semester.


Critical introduction to philosophical problems, ideas and methods

Spring 2021: PHIL UN1010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 1010 001/11497 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Online Only
David Albert 3.00 72/90
Fall 2021: PHIL UN1010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 1010 001/10353 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
717 Hamilton Hall
David Albert 3.00 57/80

BIOL UN3995 (Section 1) Topics in Biology: Crossroads in Bioethics. 1-2 points.

Prerequisites: at least one introductory course in biology or chemistry.

This two credit multidisciplinary and interactive course will focus on contemporary issues in bioethics. Each topic will cover both the underlying science of new biotechnologies and the subsequent bioethical issues that emerge from these technologies. Classroom time will be devoted to student discussions, case presentations, and role playing. Topics include human trafficking, stem cell research, human reproductive cloning, neuroethics, genetic screening, human-animal chimeras, synthetic biology, bioterrorism, and neuroimaging.

COMS BC3420 Privacy in a Networked World. 4 points.

The ubiquity of computers and networks in business, government, recreation, and almost all aspects of daily life has led to a proliferation of online sensitive data: data that, if used improperly, can harm the data subjects. As a result, concern about the use, ownership, control, privacy, and accuracy of these data has become a top priority. This seminar course focuses on both the technical challenges of handling sensitive data, the privacy implications of various technologies, and the policy and legal issues facing data subjects, data owners, and data users. 

Spring 2021: COMS BC3420
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
COMS 3420 001/00227 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Ll017 Milstein Center
Rebecca Wright 4 21/24

EEEB GU4005 Conservation Policy. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Students should have completed at least one course in ecology, evolution or conservation biology.

The purpose of this course is to arm emerging scientists with an understanding of conservation policy at the city, state, federal and international levels. Our focus will be on understanding the science that informs conservation policy, evaluating the efficacy of conservation policies for achieving conservation goals, and learning about the role that scientists play in forming policy.

Fall 2021: EEEB GU4005
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EEEB 4005 001/12814 T 2:00pm - 3:50pm
1015 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Sara Kross 3 14/16

EEEB GU4321 Human Nature: DNA, Race & Identity. 4 points.

The course focuses on human identity, beginning with the individual and progressing to communal and global viewpoints using a framework of perspectives from biology, genetics, medicine, psychiatry, religion and the law.

Spring 2021: EEEB GU4321
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EEEB 4321 001/10448 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Robert Pollack, Marya Pollack 4 15/20
Fall 2021: EEEB GU4321
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EEEB 4321 001/12622 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
309 Hamilton Hall
Robert Pollack, Marya Pollack 4 14/20

EEEB GU4700 Race: The Tangled History of a Biological Concept. 4 points.

Enrollment limited to 15. Priority given to EBHS majors/concentrators.Not offered during 2021-22 academic year.

From Aristotle to the 2020 US census, this course examines the history of race as a biological concept.  It explores the complex relationship between the scientific study of biological differences-real, imagined, or invented and the historical and cultural factors involved in the development and expression of "racial ideas." Scientific background not required. [Additional hour for film screenings weekly in second half of the semester--attendance at films is mandatory.] Please note that this course DOES NOT fulfillment the SC requirement at the College or GS.

Spring 2021: EEEB GU4700
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EEEB 4700 001/10450 M W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
Jill Shapiro 4 13/12

EESC BC3040 Environmental Law. 3 points.

Process-oriented introduction to the law and its use in environmental policy and decision-making. Origins and structure of the U.S. legal system. Emphasis on litigation process and specific cases that elucidate the common law and toxic torts, environmental administrative law, and environmental regulation through application and testing of statutory law in the courts. Emphasis also on the development of legal literacy, research skills, and writing.

Spring 2021: EESC BC3040
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 3040 001/00593 T Th 8:50am - 9:55am
Room TBA
Dana Neacsu 3 25/40

SDEV UN2000 Introduction to Environmental Law. 3 Points.

The course provides an overview of environmental law for students without a legal background. It examines U.S. statutes and regulations regarding air, water, hazardous and toxic materials, land use, climate change, endangered species, and the like, as well as international environmental issues. After completing the course students should be equipped to understand how the environmental laws operate, the role of the courts, international treaties and government agencies in implementing environmental protection, and techniques used in addressing these issues.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2021 001 13581 Philip Weinberg M W 10:10am - 11:25am
Online Only


CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

The course provides students with the natural science basis to appreciate co-dependencies of natural and human systems, which are central to understanding sustainable development. After completing the course, students should be able to incorporate scientific approaches into their research or policy decisions and be able to use scientific methods of data analysis. The semester will highlight the climate system and solutions from both physical and ecological perspectives; water resources; food production and the cycling of nutrients; and the role of biodiversity in sustainable development. The course emphasizes key scientific concepts such as uncertainty, experimental versus observational approaches, prediction and predictability, the use of models and other essential methodological aspects.

Fall 2021: EESC UN2330
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
EESC 2330 001/12772 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
614 Schermerhorn Hall
John Mutter, Jenna Lawrence 3 120/120

HIST BC3910 Global Politics of Reproduction: Culture, Politics, and History. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. Preregistration required.

Comparative, cross-cultural examination of social organization and historical construction of human reproduction, with emphasis on 20th century. Topics include role of states and local and transnational "stratification" of reproduction by race, class, and citizenship; eugenics; population politics; birth control; kinship as social and biological relationship; maternity; paternity; new reproductive technologies.

HRTS UN3001 Introduction to Human Rights. 3 points.

Evolution of the theory and content of human rights; the ideology and impact of human rights movements; national and international human rights law and institutions; their application with attention to universality within states, including the U.S., and internationally.

Spring 2021: HRTS UN3001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 3001 001/11513 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Online Only
Andrew Nathan 3 145/150
Fall 2021: HRTS UN3001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 3001 001/12191 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
309 Havemeyer Hall
Andrew Nathan 3 150/150

HRTS BC3850 Human Rights and Public Health. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Enrollment in the course is open to 18 undergraduates who have completed at least one core course in human rights and /or international law.

This seminar introduces students to the field of health and human rights.  It examines how to advocate for and implement public health strategies using a human rights framework. It takes note of current international and domestic debates about the utility of a “human rights-based approach” to health, discusses methods and ethics of health-related human rights research, and examines case studies of human rights investigations to explore the role of human rights analysis in promoting public health.  

Fall 2021: HRTS BC3850
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 3850 001/00059 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Room TBA
Widney Brown 4 20/20

HSPB UN2950 Social History of American Public Health. 4 points.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an historical understanding of the role public health has played in American history. The underlying assumptions are that disease, and the ways we define disease, are simultaneously reflections of social and cultural values, as well as important factors in shaping those values. Also, it is maintained that the environments that we build determine the ways we live and die. The dread infectious and acute diseases in the nineteenth century, the chronic, degenerative conditions of the twentieth and the new, vaguely understood conditions rooted in a changing chemical and human-made environment are emblematic of the societies we created. Among the questions that will be addressed are: How does the health status of Americans reflect and shape our history? How do ideas about health reflect broader attitudes and values in American history and culture? How does the American experience with pain, disability, and disease affect our actions and lives? What are the responsibilities of the state and of the individual in preserving health? How have American institutions--from hospitals to unions to insurance companies--been shaped by changing longevity, experience with disability and death?

Spring 2021: HSPB UN2950
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HSPB 2950 001/11396 T Th 8:40am - 9:55am
Online Only
James Colgrove 4 156/175

PHIL V2593 Science and Religion. 3 points.

Open to all undergraduates.Not offered during 2021-22 academic year.

The course investigates what many people have viewed as a "quarrel" between science and religion. It explores what science is, and what religion is, and asks what authority can offer for the various claims they make. As the natural sciences provide increased knowledge of the cosmos, is there still a place for religion? The course has no prerequisites.

PHIL UN2702 Contemporary Moral Problems. 3 points.

Questions about how people should act have historically been central to philosophy.  This course introduces students to philosophy through an examination of some important moral problems that arise in the twenty-first century.  The aim is not only to offer ideas for thinking through the issues covered, but also to provide tools for general moral reflection.  Topics covered will include: the legitimacy of asking migrants to abandon their traditional practices, responsibilities to distant people and to future generations, abortion and genetic testing of the unborn, the proper treatment of animals, and the permissibility of war and terrorism.

PHIL UN3654 Philosophy of Psychology. 3 points.

Considers psychology from the perspective of philosophy of science and the plausibility of various philosophical positions in light of the best current theories of psychology. Examines the assumptions and explanatory strategies of past and present "schools of psychology" and the implications of recent work in psychology for such perennial philosophical problems as moral responsibility and personal identity.

PHIL UN3701 ETHICS. 4.00 points.

Prerequisites: one course in philosophy.
Corequisites: PHIL V3711 Required Discussion Section (0 points).
Prerequisites: one course in philosophy. Corequisites: PHIL V3711 Required Discussion Section (0 points). This course is mainly an introduction to three influential approaches to normative ethics: utilitarianism, deontological views, and virtue ethics. We also consider the ethics of care, and selected topics in meta-ethics

Spring 2021: PHIL UN3701
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3701 001/11501 M 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Online Only
Michele Moody-Adams 4.00 81/90
PHIL 3701 AU1/19265  
Michele Moody-Adams 4.00 2/2

PHIL V3720 Ethics and Medicine. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Ethics and Values.
Not offered during 2021-22 academic year.

Prerequisites: Limited enrollment by permission of the instructor. First-day attendance required.

Philosophical examination of moral issues in medical theory and practice. Analysis of the ethics of the doctor-patient relationship, e.g., informed consent, truth-telling, paternalism; topics in bioethics, e.g., abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on humans; justice and access to health care; human genetics.


In his Theses on Feuerbach, Karl Marx writes, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” The questions to ask in response to Marx’s exhortation include: how do we recognize the need for change and appropriately effect it? What are the relations between our goals and the means to them? How can we better understand our goals to make the means more suitable? When we organize to produce results, what are we doing? Do we know exactly who and what we want to change? What are the “ethics of process”? What exactly do we do when we organize? A tentative definition: to organize is to bring together individuals who have common interests in a way that will enhance their power. What kind of power is this? What other forms of power are there? What is the best form of coordinating among individuals? If we better understand the dynamics of organizing, should we reconceive our goals accordingly? How do we better tap into shared values and concerns? What temptations and distractions get in the way of our goals? What problems prevent us from achieving them? Do we have goals that can be achieved? If not, how can we revise them?

PSYC BC3387 Topics in Neuroethics. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).

Prerequisites: BC1001 and one of the following: Neurobiology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Fundamentals of Neuropsychology, or permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 20 students.

Recent advancements in neuroscience raise profound ethical questions. Neuroethics integrates neuroscience, philosophy, and ethics in an attempt to address these issues. Reviews current debated topics relevant to the brain, cognition, and behavior. Bioethical and philosophical principles will be applied allowing students to develop skill in ethical analysis.

PUBH UN3100 Fundamentals of Global Health. 3 points.

Many of the greatest challenges in public health are global. This course uses a multidisciplinary approach to discuss the major underlying determinants of poor health and the relationship between health and political, social and economic development. Drawing upon the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, students will be introduced to the evolution of modern approaches to the setting of global health priorities, the functions and roles of health systems, an overview of current global health practices, and the major institutional players in global health. The first unit of the class will focus on establishing the foundations for a public health approach to understanding the challenges of global health. This will involve exploration of the factors shaping the global distribution of disease and their connection with issues of social, economic, and political development, as reflected in the Millennium Development Goals. The second unit will explore in further detail a number of major health priorities. A significant goal of the class will be to identify common sources of vulnerability and challenge across health risks, and the consequent need for a systemic approach to their being addressed. The third and final unit builds upon this analysis to demonstrate the multi-disciplinary, multi-level approach required to effectively address global health priorities, and the political and organizational cooperation required to achieve this. The class concludes with an analysis of the major challenges and threats to global coordination regarding such threats as pandemic influenza and emerging health threats related to climate change. Offered in the spring.

Spring 2021: PUBH UN3100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PUBH 3100 001/14976 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Online Only
Rachel Moresky 3 97/100


An introduction to and overview of public health. Through a series of sessions with leading public health experts, this course views the multifaceted nature of public health through a prismic lens addressing key concepts, approaches, and issues of historical and contemporary import: What is public health and how has public health evolved over time? What are the core methods of public health? What are the approaches to understanding and addressing both infectious and chronic, non-communicable diseases? What role do micro- and macro-level determinants (i.e. biology and social context) play in public health? What are the global trends in population health? How does the individual life course bear on population health? How do systems, policy, and population health mutually shape each other? How are public health programs designed and evaluated? What are the limits of public health?

Fall 2021: PUBH UN3200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PUBH 3200 001/12605 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
Dana March, Lauren Westley 3.00 100/100
PUBH 3200 002/17950 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Ren Kraft Center
3.00 0/100

SDEV UN2050 Environmental Policy and Governance. 3 Points.

Sustainability is a powerful framework for thinking about business, economics, politics and environmental impacts. An overview course, Environmental Policy & Governance will focus specifically on the policy elements of sustainability. With an emphasis on the American political system, the course will begin by exploring the way the American bureaucracy addresses environmental challenges. We will then use the foundations established through our understanding of the US system to study sustainable governance at the international level. With both US and international perspectives in place, we will then address a range of specific sustainability issues including land use, climate change, food and agriculture, air quality, water quality, and energy. Over the course of the semester, we will study current events through the lens of sustainability policy to help illustrate course concepts and theories.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Fall 2021 001 10598 Lisa Dale T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
401 Chandler

SDEV UN3355 Climate Change and Law. 3 Points.

Enrollment limited to 15.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad introduction to the field of climate law in the United States and at the international level. The course begins with an overview of the causes and effects of global climate change and the methods available to control and adapt to it. We then examine the negotiation, implementation and current status of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Copenhagen Accord. The focus then turns to the past and proposed actions of the U.S. Congress, the executive branch and the courts, as well as regional, state and municipal efforts. The Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act will receive special attention. We evaluate the various legal tools that are available to address climate change, including cap-and-trade schemes; carbon taxation; command-and-control regulation; litigation; securities disclosures; and voluntary action. The roles of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, carbon capture and sequestration, and forestry and agriculture each receive close attention. Implications for international human rights, international trade, environmental justice, and international and intergenerational equity are discussed. The course concludes with examination of the special challenges posed by China; proposals for adaptation and geoengineering; and business opportunities and the role of lawyers. Offered in the Spring.

Term Section Call Number Instructor Times/Location
Spring 2021 001 13586 Michael Gerrard W 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Online Only
Spring 2021 001 13586 Michael Gerrard M W 8:40am - 10:10am
Online Only
Spring 2021 002 18031 Michael Gerrard Th 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Online Only
Spring 2021 002 18031 Michael Gerrard M W 8:40am - 10:10am
Online Only

SOCI UN3246 Medical Sociology. 3 points.

Prerequisites: None

Examines the ways sociologists have studied the field of medicine and experiences of health and illness. We cannot understand topics of health and illness by only looking at biological phenomena; we must consider a variety of social, political, economic, and cultural forces. Uses sociological perspectives and methods to understand topics such as: unequal patterns in health and illness; how people make sense of and manage illness; the ways doctors and patients interact with each other; changes in the medical profession, health policies and institutions; social movements around health; and how some behaviors but not others become understood as medical problems. Course is geared towards pre-med students as well as those with general interests in medicine, health and society.

Spring 2021: SOCI UN3246
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SOCI 3246 001/00048 M T W Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
Amy Zhou 3 42/45

SOCI BC3750 How Race Gets Under Our Skin: The Sociology of Race, Health, and Biomedicine. 4 points.

One of the glaring forms of inequalities that persists today is the race-based gap in access to health care, quality of care, and health outcomes. This course examines how institutionalized racism and the structure of health care contributes to the neglect and sometimes abuse of racial and ethnic minorities. Quite literally, how does race affect one’s life chances? This course covers a wide range of topics related to race and health, including: racial inequalities in health outcomes, biases in medical institutions, immigration status and health, racial profiling in medicine, and race in the genomic era.

Spring 2021: SOCI BC3750
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SOCI 3750 001/00049 T Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Amy Zhou 4 19/20

WMST BC3131 Women and Science. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 18 students.

History and politics of women's involvement with science. Women's contributions to scientific discovery in various fields, accounts by women scientists, engineers, and physicians, issues of science education. Feminist critiques of biological research and of the institution of science.

Fall 2021: WMST BC3131
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3131 001/00674 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
308 Diana Center
Laura Kay 4 20/18