At the University of Edinburgh, the introductory history of science course is a one-semester elective option taken by students from more than a hundred degree programs and nearly every academic division. In a British undergraduate system that tends to emphasize specific disciplinary pathways, the course gives students an unusual chance to study alongside peers from other fields while learning to think critically about the multifarious disciplines that define their university experience. Since 2020, I have been remaking the course to ask students to reckon deliberately with what makes the course unique for them, and to make the course their own.

The course dates to 1972, when the formulators of the Edinburgh School of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge began teaching the social history of science to the university’s science undergraduates (Shapin 1980). Then, as now, the course assumed no prerequisites and aimed to bring students quickly to the...

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