Program Details

London and its environs offer wonderful resources to help resolve such questions, including important sites where pivotal research was performed and a wealth of early manuscripts and apparatus actually used by historical figures. By becoming immersed in t
Location:
London, United Kingdom
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:
Undergraduate
Term:
Summer

Program Overview

Program Description:
The science of chemistry represents one of the great intellectual and practical achievements of civilization, yet the story of its development seldom gets told. Most chemistry courses necessarily focus on the current state of the science without exploring how it reached that state. However, the history can teach us important and fascinating lessons. This course should introduce the student to some new chemistry that introductory courses brush past or leave out altogether. For example, how did the flawed ideas of alchemy, the phlogiston theory, and Prout's hypothesis influence the development of modern chemistry? What led to the renewal of the ancient Greek theory of atoms? Why were atomic weights controversial throughout much of the 19th century, and how were they finally determined. How did early spectroscopy lead to the profound quantum revolution of the early 20th century? What has been the role of technology in advancing the science of chemistry? Who were the important "players" in early chemistry, where did they work, and what became of them? (There are very human stories here of exile, political influence, laboratory accidents, and execution!) In sum, how did chemistry evolve to its present state?

London and its environs offer wonderful resources to help resolve such questions, including important sites where pivotal research was performed and a wealth of early manuscripts and apparatus actually used by historical figures. By becoming immersed in the development of chemistry, and by doing it in one of the great cultural centers in the world, students should come away with a much deeper understanding of the complex way in which chemistry, or any science, actually evolves.

This course will be taught over a period of four weeks, with minimum of two hours per weekday devoted to class discussions and related field trips. Reading will be assigned each day from Levere’s “Transforming Matter,” a systematic treatment of chemical history. This will be supplemented by reading assignments from Greenberg’s essays in “The Art of Chemistry.” Central England provides a wealth of sites related closely to the history of chemistry, and the course will explore these. These field trips are an integral part of the course, and participation is required for all students.
Setting Description:
Housing & Meals: Students will be housed in student residences for the duration of their time in London. A few group meals will be included in the cost of the program, but students should budget for the remainder of their food expenses. Cultural Activities: Excursions related directly to course material will include, within London, visits to the Science Museum, Royal Institution, British Museum, British Library, Natural History Museum, Westminster Abbey, and Alexander Fleming's penicillin laboratory at St. Mary's Hospital. In Greenwich, we will visit the Royal Observatory, a pleasant boat ride down the Thames from central London. The Old Ashmolean Museum in Oxford will be included, as will trips to the Whipple Museum of Scientific Instruments, the Cavendish Laboratory, and the Wren Library of Trinity College, all in Cambridge. London abounds with wonderful opportunities for sightseeing and cultural enrichment. In addition to the chemistry-related excursions above, at least one org
Cost:
$5,332 (estimated cost)

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