The initiative for this course came from the Dean’s office, Eberly College of Science. The Dean’s Alumni Advisory Board recommended in 2009 that the College should be doing more to make non-science majors, many of whom will go on to be the leaders of future in a wide range of occupations, better consumers of science. There was a strong recognition that science will be an even more important in this century than it was last century, while at the same time, the general level of awareness of how science works – what it can and can not deliver – seems to be getting worse in the population at large. This feeling is based on qualitative assessment of the standard of public discourse surrounding such controversial topics as stem cells, vaccines, climate change, genetic modification, and evolution. The recommendation of the Advisory Board was enthusiastically taken up by the then Dean, Dan Larson, and Associate Dean Freed was empowered to make it happen.
The decision was made to offer a 3-credit course on the scientific process to non-majors. Dean Freed subsequently held several consultation meetings with College Faculty which attracted a wide range of ideas. Subsequently, the post of Course Director was advertised within the College, and on the basis of the vision he proposed, Andrew Read was appointed summer 2009. Several further meetings with Dean Larson and Associate Deans Freed and Williams further shaped the framework for the course. From there, it has been left to Dr Read to make it happen in practice.