Course Information
Course title
Biology in the Movies 
Designated for
Curriculum Number
Curriculum Identity Number
H01 06900 
Monday 3,4 
The upper limit of the number of students: 60. 
Ceiba Web Server 
Table of Core Capabilities and Curriculum Planning
Association has not been established
Course Syllabus
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Course Description

The movies have long exploited biology as a source of bankable plot material. This trend has been even more intensified recently as biological discoveries and biotechnology advanced. Filmmakers capitalize recent discoveries to produce movies with science-based plots to an increasingly aware public. In view of their mass appeal, such movies play a significant role in society as disseminators of scientific facts and misinformation. They thus serve as a useful starting point for exploring various aspects of the relationship between science and the public perception of science. This course is designed for students to learn about how science is done through group discussions on various biological topics drawn from movies. Students will additionally explore public misconceptions and naiveté about science that are perpetuated by movies, as well as the extent to which such movies borrow from, or in some cases, even predict scientific fact. This course requires weekly screenings of a feature-length movie prior the one-hour lecture in the classroom. Films and topics are organized around biological themes: Discussion of films that feature different biological transformations will focus on distinguishing between science fiction and science fact, understanding the uses of the underlying principles in scientific research, and exploring real world analogies to such fictional concepts as fly-human chimeras and reconstructed dinosaurs.  

Course Objective
The primary goal of this course is to build a coherent foundation of knowledge in biology through film appreciation. The basic concepts discussed include the scientific methods by which we come to know things in a scientific way. They help you to know and appreciate the precision and complexity of living processes. Upon completing this course, students should be able to develop critical thinking and evaluation skills.  
Course Requirement
Attendance is expected. If you find that you must miss class, do file the leave of absence on Ceiba. You are allowed one free absence in this course. After that, each unauthorized absence will lower your final grade one increment (i.e. A to A-); this policy is cumulative. Homework will basically be assigned bi-weekly. All writing will account for your total grade. The assignment you turn in should be neat, and legible. Make sure to show sufficient work for each time. Insufficient work or wrong format may result in reduction of credit or zero score. 
Office Hours
There is no textbook for the course. Each student shall come up with a two-page, 12 font, single-spaced screening review writing, and submit it to ceiba in a week. Late assignments will NOT be accepted for any reason. Students are strongly encouraged to carefully review the syllabus and locate the current readings and topics in relation to the course as a whole. Know why you are discussing this particular topic at this juncture in the course. Using the syllabus and lecture material to generate questions and comments in advance is highly recommended. 
Designated reading
Week 2
Week 3 Pinnapureddy, A. R., C. Stayner, J. McEwan, O. Baddeley, J. Forman and M. R. Eccles 2015. Large animal models of rare genetic disorders: sheep as phenotypically relevant models of human genetic disease. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, doi:10.1186/s13023-015-0327-5.
Week 4 Service R. F. 2015. Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum. Science| DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0325
Week 5
Week 7
Week 12
Week 14
Week 17

Week 1
9/11  Introduction 
Week 2
9/18  『Screening』 Lorenzo’s oil (1992) 
Week 3
9/25  The biology of rare genetic disease 
Week 4
10/02  『Screening』Jurassic park (1993) 
Week 5
10/09  Holiday  
Week 6
10/16  Origin of life 
Week 7
10/23  『Screening』 Wall-E (2008) /Beyond beauty;Taiwan from above (2014)/ The end of the line (2009) 
Week 8
10/30  Conservation biology 
Week 9
11/6  Mid-term 
Week 10
11/13  『Screening』 Contagion (2011) / Gattaca (1998) 
Week 11
11/20  How and why do we get sick? 
Week 12
11/27  『Screening』 My sister’s keeper (2009)/ Never let me go (2010) 
Week 13
12/04  Organ donor/ transplantation legality 
Week 14
12/11  『Screening』 Ex_Machina (2015) / Her (2013) 
Week 15
12/18  Bionics 
Week 16
12/25  『Screening』 Erin Brockovich (2000)  
Week 17
1/01  Holiday 
Week 18
1/08  Final