Science in Our World Benefits and Controversy

Ref: C2224354

4.6 billion years after the birth of our planet, it is being argued that we have entered a new geological time period called The Anthropocene – the age when human activity has had a decisive influence on the state, dynamics and future of the Earth system. How did we get here and where are we going....?? Consider the following: • The population of the world has trebled since 1950 and more than 75% of that population are likely to be short of water by 2050 • Lifestyle choices now result in more worldwide deaths than bacterial or viral infection • It is 250 years since the Industrial Revolution and our climate has changed more in 200 years than in the past 200 million • Nuclear technology can be used for power generation and also for advanced weaponry • Genetic modification of crops and stem cell research is now commonplace What does this mean for our planet and the human race - and what choices will we make?

Course aim

The aim of the course is to introduce a range of controversial scientific ideas in the context of everyday life and promote thinking, learning and discussion around how these ideas have shaped and continue to impact our world.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No specific skills or experience is needed but the course is best suited to those with a general interest in scientific matters

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify and critically assess news stories that are related directly to scientific issues
  • Discuss a range of issues that have arisen from scientific discoveries and related technology
  • Assess the potential risks and benefits of harnessing science and technology in securing food and energy supplies
  • Outline our current understanding of our place in the Universe
  • Make informed personal choices around diet, exercise and related health issues

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • The course is based around a series of presentations on science and related technology. Participation and debate is encouraged and there will be time allocated for this in each of the session.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • As the topics being covered are somewhat controversial, the personal experiences and knowledge of the group will add value and interest to the discussions; the tutor will seek to promote participation.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • A range of texts will be referenced in class and further reading will be suggested to those who may wish to further increase their learning in a particular subject area. Handouts will be distributed electronically after each session.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • It is hoped that participants will learn from each other and that many will gain greater interest in scientific issues. Learning about science and technology can be lively and fun!

Download full Course information sheet

Science in Our World Benefits and Controversy


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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