Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Totalitarian Science

Instructor: Rod Hagley

Many of the technological, economic, and societal advances we enjoy today and since the latter part of the twentieth century are closely associated with the dramatic advancements in science over the past hundred years. In this course, however, we shall look at the darker side of the scientific enterprise. Many times in the recent past totalitarian dictatorial governments have chosen to use the knowledge gained through scientific research to produce devastating military weapons of mass destruction. Notable examples are the Japanese development of infectious agents as biological weapons prior to and during World War II and their use on civilian populations, as well as the Soviet Union's massive biological weapons production program called Biopreparat during the Cold War years. We will discuss the horrendous results of the National Socialist's particular form of race genetics in Nazi Germany and its conquered lands in Eastern Europe, which culminated in the Holocaust. An effort will be made to understand the motivation behind the horrendous medical experiments performed on innocent human beings in the name of science by Nazi physicians. And finally we will investigate the political motivations behind so-called Lysenkoism, a state approved pseudo-scientific theory of genetics that pervaded Soviet Science and stymied its further development for over twenty-five years.

Last Update:Feb 10, 2008