Courses

FALL 2017

SCSO 0070G – Skill: From to the Medieval Workshop to the Maker Movement (AMST 0150E)
What does it mean to be skilled? How does a combination of mechanical and material knowledge, expertise in the use of tools, and physical ability allow someone to make and repair things? How can we describe the intellectual and embodied knowledge of skills in words, images, and artifacts? How do personal skills fit into social and cultural settings? How are skills learned? In this course we read the writings of skilled craftspeople and cultural critics to understand changes in concepts of skill; observe skilled practitioners in a variety of areas; learn new skills, and write about them. FYS WRIT

SCSO 0382 - Foods and Drugs in History (HIST 0150H)
What we consume connects us to the worlds of both nature and culture. Bodily and socially, “you are what you eat,” but if your well-being suffers, you often seek out other ingestible substances. In many times and places, changing what you eat is thought to be healing, while in other times and places drugs – either remedial or recreational – are thought to be distinct and more immediately restorative. Few human interactions with the larger world are more important or interesting than how comestibles and medicines have been discovered, mixed, transformed, distributed, and how those processes have changed us. WRIT

SCSO0383 - From Fire Wielders to Empire Builders: Human Impact on the Global Environment before 1492 (HIST 0270A)
This is a new lecture course intended to introduce the field of environmental history to students with no previous experience in it. The study of prehistoric, ancient and medieval environments is a heavily interdisciplinary research field, and the course will emphasize the variety of sources available for studying it. We will combine textbook readings with primary source readings from scientific and archaeological reports and, especially, contemporary texts.  

SCSO 0700B - Science and Social Controversy
In this course we examine the institution of science and its relations to the social context in which it is embedded. Scientific objectivity, scientific consensus, scientific authority, and the social and moral accountability of scientists will be considered in the context of discussing such controversies as: the AIDS epidemic, climate change, science and religion, the Manhattan Project, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, genetic and pharmacological enhancement, the role of drug companies in science and medicine, psychiatric diagnosis and medication, robotics, and the implications of neuroscience for free will and moral responsibility. Enrollment limited to 20 first year students and sophomores.

SCSO 0700G - Digital Media in the Time of Ecological Crisis (MCM 0902C)
In a time characterized by anthropogenic climate change, militaries forecast climate refugees, scientific communities broadcast the end of ‘nature’ while politicians engineer influence in a media ecosystem. What are the politics of how media represents science, the environment and ecological crisis? This course considers the historical emergence of digital media alongside ecology. By studying the exchange between scientific knowledge, digital technology and the communication of environmental crises at local and global scales, we will attempt to establish an interpretive framework for the matrix of politics, power, inequality and violence that accompanies the historical and temporal conditions consistent with climate change. DPLL

SCSO 1396 - Feathery Things: An Avian Introduction to Animal Studies (HIST 1977B)
This course will provide grounding in the emerging field of critical animal studies by surveying how we know and interact with one diverse and charismatic class of animals: the Aves. Inspiring science, art, and conservation, traded as resources, kept as hunters or pets, and eaten as meat, birds provide an excellent avenue into animal studies. We will explore birds channeled through ethnography, ornithology, behavioral sciences, musicology, visual arts, and the history of science. In addition to reading and discussion, we also will experience the many forms of birds around us through indoor and outdoor “laboratory” sessions.

SCSO 1522 - Philosophy of Science (PHIL 1590)
Some very general, basic questions concerning science. Can evidence justify belief in theories which go beyond the evidence? What is the nature of good scientific reasoning? Is there a single scientific method? What is a scientific explanation? Does science reveal truths about unobservable reality, or merely tell us about parts of the world we can measure directly? WRIT

SCSO 1701O - Medicine and Public Health in Africa (HIST 1960Q)
This course explores the major debates in the history of medicine in Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and highlights the coexistence of a variety of healing traditions and medical understandings across the continent. It will focus on the following questions: What are some of the ways Africans practice and understand medicine? How have these practices interacted with other medical systems? What impact did colonialism have on the production of medical knowledge? How were practices and treatments evaluated and deemed effective? By whom and on what grounds? And how have independent African states addressed these critical issues?

SCSO 1900 S01 Senior Seminar in Science and Society
This is an advanced seminar that uses Problem Based Learning style pedagogy to explore real-world problems in STS. To solve assigned problems students will want to explore critical scholarship in areas such as laboratory studies, feminist science and technology studies, the rhetoric and discourse of science and technology, expertise and the public understanding of science. Course is intended for Science and Society senior concentrators, but is open to others with appropriate background. Enrollment limited to 20.

SPRING 2018

SCSO 0280 - Transforming Society-Technology and Choices for the Future (ENGN 0020)
This course will address the impact that technology has on society, the central role of technology on many political issues, and the need for all educated individuals to understand basic technology and reach an informed opinion on a particular topic of national or international interest. The course will begin with a brief history of technology.

SCSO 1000 - Introduction to Science and Society: Theories and Controversies
What is "science"? How do scientific ideas become knowledge? What is the nature of scientific objectivity, how can it be compromised? What is a scientific community, scientific consensus, and scientific authority? What roles does science play in our culture, and how is science related to other social institutions and practices? The interdisciplinary field of science studies is introduced through exploration of topics that include: gender and race, psychiatric classification, the drug industry, science and religion, and the use of nuclear weapons during World War II. Enrollment limited to 30 sophomores, juniors, seniors; others may enroll with permission of instructor. WRIT

SCSO 1155 - Astronomy Before the Telescope (ASYR 1600)
This course provides an introduction to the history of astronomy from ancient times down to the invention of the telescope, focusing on the development of astronomy in Babylon, Greece, China, the medieval Islamic world, and Europe. The course will cover topics such as the invention of the zodiac, cosmological models, early astronomical instruments, and the development of astronomical theories. We will also explore the reasons people practiced astronomy in the past. No prior knowledge of astronomy is necessary for this course. DPLL

SCSO 1190 - Nudge: How to Use Social Psychology to Create Social Change (CLPS 1783)
How can we make people eat healthier food, protect the environment, save money for retirement, or behave ethically? How can we reduce negative behaviors such as police violence and discrimination of underrepresented groups? Using an interdisciplinary approach, this course will introduce how to “nudge”—how to change people’s behavior through psychological insights, without forbidding options or changing economic incentives. In particular, we will learn about cognitive and emotional biases in decision-making; then we will focus on “nudging remedies” for these systematic biases in various domains, such as health and wealth; finally, we will actively tackle some problems in an in-class nudging workshop.

SCSO 1700P - Neuroethics
In this course, we will examine ethical, social, and philosophical issues raised by developments in the neurosciences. Topics will include: neurodevelopment and the emergence of persons; the impact of child abuse on brain development; aging, brain disease, and mental decline; life extension research; strategies and technologies for enhancement of human traits; "mind-reading" technologies; agency, autonomy, and excuse from responsibility; error and bias in memory; mind control; neuroscientific and evolutionary models of religious belief and moral judgement. Enrollment limited to 20. Instructor permission required.

SCSO 1701E - Race, Difference and Biomedical Research: Historical Considerations (BIOL 1920D)
This advanced seminar places the current debate over race, health, and genetics in historical context. An overarching goal is to understand how the social world informs the scientific questions we ask, design of research studies, and interpretation of findings. How have the theories and practices of biomedical science and technology produced knowledge of “race” and racial difference historically? How does race relate to gender and class? What are the implications of this debate for understanding health inequality? Previous coursework in Africana Studies, biomedical science, history of science, and/or science and technology studies preferred. Enrollment limited to 20; instructor permission. WRIT

SCSO 1701P - The Anthropocene: The Past and Present of Environmental Change (ENVS 1910)
Scholars in many disciplines have begun using the term the Anthropocene to signal a geological epoch defined by human activity. This seminar examines the Anthropocene idea from the perspective of environmental history. What activities might have changed the planet – the use of fire thousands of years ago, or agriculture, or fossil fuels? Is the Anthropocene another term for climate change, or does it include pollution and extinction? Is it a useful concept? Drawing on anthropology and the sciences as well as history, we will use the Anthropocene to think through environmental change and the human relationship with the non-human world. WRIT