Medicine and Public Controversy

Joseph Sery
COMS 195

Course Description

Does the cochlear implant threaten deaf culture? Should we place stringent limitations on pharmaceutical companies’ direct-to-consumer advertising? Does the HPV vaccine pose a public health risk? In this seminar, students will examine some of the most pressing medical controversies. Drawing from a wealth of learning resources – including documentary film, creative nonfiction, and theater – we will analyze the roles that language and argument play in shaping public conceptions of morality. Students will also utilize a number of different presentation styles (e.g. speeches, group discussions, debates) while they explore and interrogate each contemporary public controversy.

Faculty Bio

Joseph Sery is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department where he teaches courses in the history, theory, and criticism of rhetoric. He has a broad range of research interests, including American public address, philosophical pragmatism, freedom of speech, and the rhetoric of inquiry (law, medicine, economics, etc.). As a Minnesota native, he refuses to become a Giants fan. But out of courtesy to his new home, he fully supports their march to the World Series (where they will lose to the Twins).