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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Hollywood’s Portrayal of Science

Instructor (s): Kyle Nichols, Geosciences

Can glaciers advance to New York City in just a few weeks? Can a car drive over molten lava? Is a magnitude 10.5 earthquake possible? Can we really travel to the center of the earth? Hollywood would lead you to believe that the answers are yes; however scientists would most likely respond with “Are you serious?” Sometimes the portrayal of science in Hollywood is accurate, while other times science is trumped by poetic and artistic license. In this seminar, we will watch some of Hollywood’s most successful “science-based” movies, identify the fiction therein, and learn the real science behind these stories. We will also discuss Hollywood’s role in science education, how it shapes the public’s perception of science, and how it portrays non-traditional scientists. For additional perspective, we will watch documentaries and other visual media that are thought to portray science accurately. Through these investigations, we will explore the role of visual media in science communication or miscommunication.

Course Offered