History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health

Director of undergraduate studies: Naomi Rogers, L 126 SHM, 785-4341, naomi.rogers@yale.edu; hshm.yale.edu


Professors Daniel Kevles, William Summers, John Warner

Associate Professor Naomi Rogers

Assistant Professors Paola Bertucci, Joanna Radin, William Rankin

Senior Lecturers Bettyann Kevles, Rebecca Tannenbaum

Affiliated Faculty Toby Appel (Yale University Library), Dimitri Gutas (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Jennifer Klein (History), Joanne Meyerowitz (History), Amy Meyers (Yale Center for British Art), Alan Mikhail (History), Kevin Repp (Yale University Library), Paul Sabin (History), Gordon Shepherd (School of Medicine), Frank Snowden (History), Jenifer Van Vleck (History)

History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health is an interdisciplinary program of study that explores the development of science, technology, medicine, and public health and their interactions with each other and with society. Its course offerings range broadly in topics and geographical scope, including the Scientific Revolution, the relationships of medicine and the media in modern America, the development of the physical, earth, and life sciences, the interplay of science, technology, and the state, and public health and epidemics in global perspective. Students in the major combine courses in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health with courses from other relevant disciplines in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

The program offers students considering a career in medicine, public health, or other health care fields a way to combine the requirements of their professional training with a broad liberal arts education. It also provides excellent preparation for many other careers, including law, business, journalism, museum work, public policy, and government, in which a contextualized understanding of science, technology, and medicine is advantageous.

Requirements of the major The major in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health requires twelve term courses, including the two-term senior requirement. Students select a pathway of seven courses that guides them through an area of specialization. The seven pathway courses must include two courses in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health; one seminar numbered 100 or above in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health or in History; one science course; and three electives chosen from relevant courses in any department.

The five standard pathways in the major are medicine and public health; global health; science, technology, and power; gender and sexuality; and arts and media. Students may also design customized pathways in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. No later than the beginning of the junior year, students in the major must select a standard pathway or indicate that they wish to design their own.

Beyond the seven pathway courses, students must complete three additional electives in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. One of the electives must be a seminar, and one must be chosen from a pathway other than the one selected for the major. All courses for the major are chosen in collaboration with the student's adviser.

Senior requirement By the end of reading period in the spring term of the junior year, students choose whether they will work toward a yearlong or a one-term senior project. Yearlong senior projects are completed in HSHM 490, 491; one-term projects are completed in HSHM 492. Students who choose a one-term project must take an additional seminar in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health during the final term of the senior year. Distinction in the Major is awarded only to students who complete a yearlong senior project.

For both the one-term and yearlong senior projects, students select a project adviser, propose a tentative topic and title, and submit a proposal to the senior project director. The final product of the senior requirement may be a written essay or an alternative project such as a film, exhibition, catalog, atlas, or historical data reconstruction. In the case of an alternative project, the student must identify a second reader in addition to the adviser before the project is approved by the senior project director. Either the adviser or the second reader must be a member of the faculty in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. A written component to the senior project must illustrate sources and the intellectual significance of the project. For more details about requirements and deadlines, majors should consult the HSHM Senior Project Handbook; copies are available from the senior project director and on the program's Web site.

Credit/D/Fail Courses taken Credit/D/Fail may not be counted toward the requirements of the major.


Prerequisites None

Number of courses 12 term courses (incl senior req)

Distribution of courses 7 courses in pathway, incl 2 HSHM courses, 1 sem in HSHM or Hist, 1 science course, and 3 electives; 3 addtl HSHM electives, incl 1 sem and 1 course outside major pathway

Senior requirement Yearlong project (HSHM 490, 491), or one-term project (HSHM 492) and 1 addtl HSHM sem


* HSHM 007a / HUMS 076a, Epidemics in Global Perspective William Summers

Interaction of epidemic diseases and society. The response of government, medicine, and the public to the threat or actual presence of widespread contagious diseases. The notion of major epidemics as one of the key contingencies of history, critically examined through contemporary medical, political, and literary accounts. The changing responses of societies and governments to epidemics as well as the reasons for those responses. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  HU, SO
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

HSHM 202a / AMST 247a / FILM 244a / HIST 147a / HLTH 170a, Media and Medicine in Modern America John Warner and Gretchen Berland

Relationships between medicine, health, and the media in the United States from 1870 to the present. The changing role of the media in shaping conceptions of the body, creating new diseases, influencing health and health policy, crafting the image of the medical profession, informing expectations of medicine and constructions of citizenship, and the medicalization of American life.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

HSHM 204a / AMST 163a / EVST 120a / HIST 120a, Introduction to Environmental History Paul Sabin

Ways in which people have shaped and been shaped by the changing environments of North America from precolonial times to the present. Migration of species and trade in commodities; contrasting uses of land; the impact of industry and markets; the rise of modern conservation and environmental movements; the development of public policy; the global search for resources by the United States.  WR, HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

HSHM 214b / HIST 402b, Extraterrestrials in History Ivano Dal Prete

The notion of extraterrestrials and "radical others" in history and culture from antiquity to the present. Topics include other worlds and their inhabitants in ancient Greece; medieval debates on the plurality of worlds; angels, freaks, native Americans, and other "aliens" of the Renaissance; comet dwellers in puritan New England; Mars as a socialist utopia in the early twentieth century; and visitors from space in American popular culture.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

HSHM 226b / HIST 236b / HUMS 342b, The Scientific Revolution Paola Bertucci

The changing relationship between the natural world and the arts from Leonardo to Newton. Topics include Renaissance anatomy and astronomy, alchemy, and natural history.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

HSHM 235b / HIST 234b, Epidemics and Society in the West since 1600 Frank Snowden

A study of the impact of epidemic diseases such as bubonic plague, cholera, malaria, and AIDS on society, public health, and the medical profession in comparative and international perspective. Topics include popular culture and mass hysteria, the mortality revolution, urban renewal and rebuilding, sanitation, the germ theory of disease, the emergence of scientific medicine, and debates over the biomedical model of disease.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

* HSHM 408b / HUMS 306b, Science and Human Sciences Gary Tomlinson

The modern dichotomy of natural science and human science, i.e., the totality of disciplines devoted to human experience, as it has developed from the mid-seventeenth century to the present. Focus on key works by Galileo Galilei, Giambattista Vico, Charles Darwin, and Terrence Deacon. The shifting relations of Western understandings of the natural and human realms.  HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 409b / HIST 416Jb / PSYC 401b, Minds and Brains from Phrenology to fMRI Staff

A survey of the science and medicine of mind and brain since 1800. Topics include madness and the asylum; phrenology and psychoanalysis; psychology in politics, law, and advertising; the rise of the "neuro­" disciplines; and mental health in public life. Sources from fields such as neurology, physiology, psychology, psychiatry, and philosophy. Readings from works by Darwin, James, Freud, Foucault, Chomsky, and Pinker.  WR, HU
W 9:25am-11:15am

* HSHM 410a / HIST 149Ja, History of Pollution Staff

The science and politics of pollution issues from the late nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth. The rise of antipollution regulations; the emergence of environmental social movements; the role of scientific expertise in national and international policymaking; changes in scientific, political, and public assessments of environmental risks.  WR, HU
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 411a / HIST 141Ja, Science from Newton to Neutrons William Summers

Major themes and ideas in science from the seventeenth century through the twentieth. Focus on evolving descriptions and theories of matter and energy, physics, and chemistry. The evolution of Newtonian ideas to the world of modern physics and the transition from alchemical thinking to the chemical revolution.  WR, HU

* HSHM 412b / HIST 429Jb, The History of the Laboratory Chitra Ramalingam

The social and cultural history of the experimental laboratory as a site for scientific activity, from early modern origins to the present day. The early modern origins of the laboratory; private, institutional, and state laboratories; relations between labs and field stations; the lab in the colonial and developing world; industrial and corporate labs; laboratory architecture; secrecy and openness; gender in the experimental workplace; and popular representations of the laboratory. Undergraduate enrollment limited to juniors and seniors.  WR, HU
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

* HSHM 422b / HIST 467Jb, Cartography, Territory, and Identity Staff

Exploration of how maps shape assumptions about territory, land, sovereignty, and identity. The relationship between scientific cartography and conquest, the geography of statecraft, religious cartographies, encounters between Western and non-Western cultures, and reactions to cartographic objectivity. Students make their own maps. No previous experience in cartography or graphic design required.  WR, HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 437b / HIST 435Jb, The Global Crisis of Malaria Frank Snowden

The global crisis of malaria examined in comparative and historical context. The mosquito theory of transmission and other developments in scientific understanding of the disease; World Health Organization strategies to eradicate malaria since 1955; the development of tools such as insecticides, medication, and bed nets; the attempt to create an effective vaccine.  WR, HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 459a / HIST 159Ja / HUMS 359a, Spies, Secrets, and Science Paola Bertucci

The relationship between secrecy, intellectual property, and science from the Middle Ages to the Cold War. Topics include alchemy and esoteric knowledge; the Manhattan Project and other secret scientific projects run by the state; the history of patents and copyright laws; and scientists as spies.  WR, HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 468b / HIST 254Jb, Sex, Life, and Generation Ivano Dal Prete

Theories and practices of life, sex, and generation in Western civilization. Politics and policies of conception and birth; social control of abortion and infanticide in premodern societies; theories of life and gender; the changing status of the embryo; the lure of artificial life.  HU
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 469a / HIST 420Ja, Photography and the Sciences Chitra Ramalingam

The making of photography's discursive identity as an experimental and evidentiary medium in the sciences, from its announcement to the public in 1839 to the digital innovations of the present. Historical and archival perspectives on uses for photography in different fields of the natural and human sciences. Use of photographic image collections in the Peabody Museum and the Beinecke Library.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* HSHM 470a and HSHM 471b, Directed Reading Staff

Readings directed by members of the faculty on topics in the history of science, medicine, or public health not covered by regular course offerings. Subjects depend on the interests of students and faculty. Weekly conferences; required papers.

* HSHM 490a or b and HSHM 491a or b, Yearlong Senior Project Staff

Preparation of a yearlong senior project under the supervision of a member of the faculty. There will be a mandatory meeting at the beginning of the term for students who have chosen the yearlong senior project; students will be notified of the time and location by e-mail before classes begin. Majors planning to begin their projects who do not receive this notice should contact the senior project director. Students expecting to graduate in May enroll in HSHM 490 during the fall term and complete their projects in HSHM 491 in the spring term. December graduates enroll in HSHM 490 in the spring term and complete their projects in HSHM 491 during the following fall term. Majors planning to begin their projects in the spring term should notify the senior project director by the last day of classes in the fall term. Students must meet progress requirements by specific deadlines throughout the first term to receive a temporary grade of SAT for HSHM 490, which will be changed to the grade received by the project upon the project's completion. Failure to meet any requirement may result in the student's being asked to withdraw from HSHM 490. For details about project requirements and deadlines, consult the HSHM Senior Project Handbook. Students enrolled in HSHM 491 must submit a completed project to 211 HGS no later than 5 p.m. on April 6, 2015, in the spring term, or no later than 5 p.m. on December 1, 2014, in the fall term. Projects submitted after 5 p.m. on the due date without an excuse from the student's residential college dean will be subject to grade penalties. Credit for HSHM 490 only on completion of HSHM 491.

* HSHM 492a or b, One-Term Senior Project William Summers

Preparation of a one-term senior project under the supervision of an HSHM faculty member, or of an affiliated faculty member with approval of the director of undergraduate studies. There will be a mandatory meeting at the beginning of the term for students who have chosen the one-term senior project; students will be notified of the time and location by e-mail before classes begin. Majors planning to begin their projects who do not receive this notice should contact the senior project director. Students expecting to graduate in May enroll in HSHM 492 during the fall term. December graduates enroll in HSHM 492 in the preceding spring term. Students planning to begin their project in the spring should notify the senior essay director by the last day of classes in the fall term. Majors must submit a completed Statement of Intention form signed by the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project to the HSHM administrator in 207 HGS no later than September 12, 2014 (HSHM 492a), or January 12, 2015 (HSHM 492b). Blank statement forms are available in 207 HGS and in the HSHM Senior Project Handbook. Students enrolled in HSHM 492 must submit a completed senior project to 211 HGS no later than 5 p.m. on December 8, 2014, in the fall term, or no later than 5 p.m. on April 27, 2015, in the spring term. Projects submitted after 5 p.m. on the due date without an excuse from the student's residential college dean will be subject to grade penalties.