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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Intersections of Science and Humanities Resources: Example Topics

This is meant to be an introductory guide to researching topics at the intersection of science and humanities.

In September 2017 an article was published stating that DNA testing showed that a warrior found in a Viking grave in Birka, Sweden was in fact, female. This article received a lot of attention and caused quite a stir within the study of Viking history and anthropology. In 2019, the authors published a longer article with more explanation about their findings.

Image, Figure 8 from Price, N., Hedenstierna-Jonson, C., Zachrisson, T., Kjellström, A., Storå, J., Krzewińska, M., . . . Götherström, A. (2019). Viking warrior women? Reassessing Birka chamber grave Bj.581. Antiquity, 93(367), 181-198. doi:10.15184/aqy.2018.258

 

Science Fiction is a popular genre of entertainment these days. While a lot of the science and technology in this genre is just a part of the authors' imaginations, a lot of it is also based on real scientific theories, discoveries, and technological inventions. Science Fiction can be a great way to get people interested in STEM subjects, but as a genre of entertainment, the study of it often falls into the fields of Literature and Media Studies.

 

Global health and development is a popular topic of research in our modern world. It includes the study of health in certain populations and how to improve it. Such improvements often come in the form of policy. Policy means dealing with governmental structures of society and thinking about how health interacts with human behavior. When thinking about policy, you have to think not only about the goal at hand but also about the people that it is intended to affect and their actions within society.

 

Religion and science have had a contentious relationship throughout history. Religion is in the humanities, so its interaction with science is a good example of these types of intersections. We live in a world that has both science and religion but they often don't agree, so how people interact with them and the conflict is a topic of research.

The understanding of climate change and its impacts on the earth is inherently a field of scientific study. However, how society, government, and people make sense of, react to, and manage the impacts of climate is a humanistic study. Here are some example sources on this topic:

Scientific illustration is creating art for science. These pictures are examples of such illustrations. It is the rendering of scientific subjects in the most accurate way possible to communicate information about the subject. This topic inherently requires both science and art.

Because of the use of genetics in the study of history's plagues, we now know that the same bacterium, Yersinia pestis, caused multiple of the world's great plagues. This bacterium can be traced all the way back c.2000 BCE, to the Justinian Plague, the Black Death, and the global plague spread at the turn of the 20th century. Monica Green is a key scholar on this topic:

Stonehenge is one of the greatest engineering feats of pre-modern history. It has confounded scholars both in the humanities and the sciences.

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