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Module 1: Written
Assignment

 

What is
your relationship with science, and what has influenced that?

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Science is a very big part of who I am. I am
enthused by gaining knowledge in many disciplines. When I was very young it was
naming as many flags as I could or solving the Rubik’s cube. I appreciate the
truths and patterns of the world. My first love in science was for mathematics.

I admired how you can have one question with only one answer. I esteem the
applications of mathematics in the real world, which extended my interests into
physics. I continued my studies of the natural sciences into university where I
did a year of health sciences. After only ever studying formal and natural
sciences, I moved myself into the social sciences half way through 2017. I have
become fascinated with the history and patterns of mankind. Although this move
was audacious at the time, I have found the precise field for me.

                  Science is a useful tool in
everyday life. I am currently studying actuarial science and economics.  A common theme in these two subjects is risk
and choice; how we can use science to help make decisions. I believe rational
decision-making should be a vital component of high value decisions. Despite
this, there are problems where judgement and individuality are also important
components of finding a solution. Science cannot answer all of our questions
and with my studies I will be more prepared to come up with a rational answer.

Uniqueness should be celebrated amongst a society and everyone’s voice should
reflect what they think is most important. I believe that the applications of
science have its own limitations in society.

                                   

What is
your relationship with society, and how does that influence the way you see the
world?

It is very
recent that I have started to feel like a member of New Zealand’s society. I
spent 9 years of my childhood in China and Belgium and felt very detached from
New Zealand culture. Even though I called myself kiwi, when I returned to New
Zealand at age 18, I didn’t understand the politics or the culture of my own
country. Over the past three years, especially with the recent election, I have
really learnt a lot about the society I am part of. I am still unsure about my
specific place in New Zealand’s future. My aspirations have evolved around my
passion for making a difference. I have an interest in the public sector and
for non-fiction writing.

 

I see society as human cooperation. I believe
that individuals have a responsibility to contribute to their community. The
collection of all humanity makes up the world. Mirroring an individual in a
society, I believe that every society has a responsibility to contribute to the
world and their surrounding environment. Much like the eco-system, everyone and
everything is interconnected.

To me society is much more complicated than
science. While society can be studied through social science, it remains
unpredictable. There is the human factor involved, the individual opinions and
morals that make the whole system less black and white. While science is the
foundation for progression, the rate is controlled by society. I believe that
working with society is the best method to work on many of our contemporary
issues.  

 

How does
the way you see the world influence the way you think about contemporary issues
in science?

I try my absolute best to ensure that what I
think about contemporary issues in science comes from fact alone. I tend to
listen to conversation between politicians, journalists, friends and family
before forming my own opinion. I am convinced by science more than anything
else. When hearing others thoughts I listen critically to their justifications
to better shape my own opinions. Before I share what I think about contemporary
issues in science, I like to have strong evidence to support my thoughts. In
addition to facts, my values in the world are factored into my viewpoints. My
values come from what issues in the world I find most important for the world
and also for me personally. I will favour the outcome that has the most
benefits for my values.

 

Considering
the points above, for each of the four topics that we’ll be studying in this
course answer these questions:

·       What do you already know about this
topic/issue?

·       What has informed these thoughts?

·       Where would you go if you wanted to
know more about then (and weren’t taking this course)?

 

Genes and
society (including ideas about gene therapy, medical research, animal research,
GMOs, reproductive technology, animal testing.)

I did a year of health science at Otago
University in 2016. We learnt a lot about medical research, gene therapy,
animal research and reproductive technology. We looked at how to map out genes
and why this is useful. We looked at medical research a lot and the
advancements we are currently making. I support the increase in the quality of
life for everybody. Despite this, I found myself highlighting some issues as
more important than others, such as antibacterial resistance and HIV/AIDS. I am
aware of the finite amount of doctors and resources and wonder if we are making
the most of what we have. Are we going too far with medical research? What is
too far? To answer these questions I would find articles, lectures/talks, or
books on the subjects preferably by scientists.

 

Predator
Free New Zealand (including ideas around predators, biodiversity and pest
control)

I know very little on this subject. I
understand that our eco-system is controlled with equilibrium. A slight change
in the environment can have large consequences. I am aware of pests such as
rats, possums and rabbits being introduced to our environment and this having
an affect on our native birds and plants. My father works for the Ministry of
Primary Industries. This helped me understand the importance of protecting our
native environment. If I wanted to know more I would look for some books on how
New Zealand’s environment has changed, and the implications of this.

 

Climate
Change (including ideas around climate science, increasing carbon dioxide, global
warming, policy response, technology response, adaptation responses

Climate change is an extremely important issue
to me. I first learnt of this issue in physics. We looked at the science behind
how carbon dioxide is disturbing earths state of equilibrium. The increase in
natural disasters around us all is something I cannot ignore. I have also
watched the first episode of “Bill Nye Saves the World” where he talks a lot
about climate change. He explains the science to prove that this is not a hoax.

I found the panel of scientists very interesting as they debated the best steps
for society to make. The issue with climate change is not the lack of knowledge
or technology to fight it, but the social barriers. If I wanted to find out
more information on the topic, I would look at debates from Politicians and
scientists.

 

Neuroscience
and the Law (including what we can learn about people from brain scanning, and
how that information is used in law and society)

 In
health science we learnt the basic anatomy and physiology of the nervous
system. There is still so much about the brain that remains a mystery,
specifically about personality. I would be interested to see how neuroscience
can be used to progress our knowledge on mental health. I know nothing on how
this information is currently being used and how it would benefit the law and
society. I would start by looking up more about what neuroscience is
researching currently, possibly on university websites. I would then look into
articles or ted talks on how this relates to the law and society.

 

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