With a greeting to the whole class, Professor Joseph Dauben from the City University of New York (CUNY) begins his first lecture of the “2011 Summer Graduate Seminar on the Scientific Revolution” at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). In addition to being taught by a famous American professor in a typical American way of teaching the history of science, the USTC students in the seminar “virtually” become CUNY “citizens” through the online tutorial system Blackboard 8.0, where they can get course documents, post their papers and join the discussion board with the history of science students in CUNY.
The seminar surveys the rise of modern science from Copernicus to Newton, the period of intellectual ferment in the 16th and 17th centuries generally referred to as the Scientific Revolution. In addition to charting the advance of astronomy and physics through the works of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Boyle, Newton and Leibniz, the revolution in biology associated with Vesalius, Harvey and others will also be considered, along with related questions in the history of botany, medicine and iatrochemistry. The seminar will also consider the major factors that contributed to the Scientific Revolution in the European West as they relate to considering the Needham Question: namely why a comparable scientific revolution never happened in China.