UNIV495-080 Honors Degree Seminar

Big Ideas and Elegant Solutions: Creativity in the Sciences

Spring 2014
341 Smith Hall
TR 11-12:15
Syllabus: Syllabus for UNIV495-080 2014S
Combined presentation and conference schedule UNIV495 2014S

Instructor: Ray Peters
Office: Room 302, 186 S. College Ave.
Conference hours: 8-12 on MWF and by appointment
Office telephone: (302) 831-8567
E-mail: rpeters@udel.edu
WWW: www.udel.edu/honors/rpeters

UNIV495-080 Big Ideas and Elegant Solutions: Creativity in the Sciences

  • The focus of this seminar is a biographical examination of creativity in science. We will study the creative process used in developing scientific theories and the problem-solving process in applied sciences such as engineering and medicine. Our objective is to explore variation in scientific creativity while searching for universals in the creative process. Among the questions we will consider are the following: What is the connection between imagination, reason, creativity, and discovery? Is creativity in science and math different from creativity in the arts? What are the characteristics of the creative personality? We will read the following texts: E=MC2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation; Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries; Pushing the Limits: New Adventures in Engineering; and The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. We will also view films about scientific creativity such as Secret of Photo 51, The Best Mind since Einstein, Brooklyn Bridge, and The Proof. In addition to leading discussions on assigned readings, students will make presentations on their research projects. Students will write brief response papers, critical reviews, and a research paper examining creativity in science.
  • This course satisfies the Senior Capstone Requirement for the Honors Degree or the Honors Degree with Distinction if taken in one of the last two semesters before graduation. It also satisfies the Arts and Sciences Group A and Second Writing requirements.

Course goals

  • To integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines in order to search for universals in the creative process
  • To understand the importance of the creative process in scientific research and problem solving
  • To appreciate the importance of creativity, innovation, and problem solving in human endeavors
  • To develop the intellectual curiosity, confidence, and engagement in order to become a lifelong learner about creativity in the sciences

Course objectives

  • To become familiar with the biographies of a number of scientists, engineers, and doctors distinguished by their creative thinking
  • To research and analyze varieties of the creative process and the creative personality at work in scientific research, discovery, design, and problem-solving
  • To develop the oral and written communication skills required for creative participation in intellectual, professional, and civic communities
  • To develop the ability to bridge cultural and linguistic barriers in order to foster creativity and solve problems
  • To engage questions of ethics regarding creativity and recognize responsibilities to self, community, and society at large

Useful resources

For more information, contact rpeters@udel.edu.

Last updated: February 21, 2014