The only program of its kind, the B.A. program in the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS) is designed for UChicago students interested in studying science in terms of its historical development, conceptual structure, and social role. Students in the program must do sufficient work in one or more sciences to acquire a sound foundation for studying the nature of science. After securing this basis, they are expected to gain an understanding of how science arose, as well as how the content of scientific thought has changed and is changing, because of both its own internal dynamic and its interaction with the larger society in which it is embedded.
In disciplines such as anthropology, history, medicine, and philosophy, the faculty designs special tutorials, enrolling three to 10 students, and works closely with students on the bachelor’s thesis. The curriculum covers foundational, advanced science, major, and tutorial courses. Students select courses according to individual interests. For example, students can examine the religious, political, and scientific ideas that formed Darwin’s theory of evolution or the ethical questions surrounding medical procedures and decisions.
The HIPS program is designed to make possible the study of a wide range of social, historical, and conceptual issues relating to science. Students completing the program follow a number of different careers. Some pursue graduate study in the history and philosophy of science or in some field of science. Others find the program valuable preparation for the study of medicine, law, public policy, or science journalism. More generally, the goal of the program is to provide students with a sound basis on which to interpret and evaluate science and science policy.
Students in other fields of study may also complete a minor in HIPS.