Dear Dr. Patry,
I am writing to congratulate you for offering a course in your science faculty that engages students in the important debates
at the interface between science and society. Your decision to assign a physics researcher to teach a science-and-society
course reveals your awareness of a vital lesson of the last century: that it is dangerous for scientists to focus exclusively
on their technical work and leave it to others to decide the associated moral and political issues.
That lesson, well stated, for example, by the physicists who founded the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, seems to have
been forgotten by less enlightened university presidents, who are most comfortable when members of their science faculty behave
like service intellectuals who know their place.
As a physicist and author of a book on science education, I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker in the course last semester.
(I need not tell you that I am talking about physics professor Denis Rancourt's Science in Society course, because it is
the only course of its kind in the science faculty.) It was great to find that the students and community members in attendance
were motivated not by grades and careerism, but by genuine interest in the subject and in making the world a better place.
Would you please let me know how you plan to support this course in the future?