Courses

PROGRAM IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & SOCIETY (STS)

Fall 2020


STS 0050K (BIOL 0190P) - Pride and Prejudice in the Development of Scientific Theories
We will examine how the pace and shape of scientific progress is affected by the social/cultural context and the "personality" of the individual. We will look into how the interplay between society and the individual affects how scientific theories arise, are presented, are debated and are accepted. The course will initially focus on Charles Darwin and his theory of Natural Selection using the biography of Adrian Desmond and James Moore, "Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist." Enrollment limited to 19 first year students. (Stephan Helfand)

STS 0290 (ENVS 0110) - Humans, Nature, and the Environment:  Addressing Environmental Change in the 21st Century
This is an engaged scholars course that offers an introduction to contemporary environmental issues. We explore the relationships between human societies and the non-human environment through a survey of topical cases, including: human population growth and consumption, global climate change, toxins, waste streams, water resources, environmental justice and ethics, and agro-food systems. This course also analyzes various solutions—social, political, technical, and economic—put forth by institutions and individuals to address questions of environmental sustainability. Students must join a 90-minute weekly discussion section. Each section will partner with a community organization to complete an engaged, local project.  (Dawn King)

STS0384 (HIST 0286A)  - History of Medicine I:  Medical Traditions in the Old World Before 1700
People have always attempted to promote health and prolong life, and to ameliorate bodily suffering. Those living in parts of Eurasia also developed textual traditions that, together with material remains, allow historians to explore their medical practices and explanations, including changes in their traditions, sometimes caused by interactions with other peoples of Europe, Asia, and Africa. We'll introduce students to major medical traditions of the Old World to 1700, with emphasis on Europe, and explore some reasons for change. A knowledge of languages and the social and natural sciences is welcome not required. (Harold Cook)

STS 1124 (ANTH 1350) Anthropology of Epidemics
This upper-level undergraduate medical anthropology seminar will explore the lived experience of contemporary epidemic outbreaks through an anthropological lens. As COVID-19 has made abundantly clear, both the causes and effects of epidemics are heavily shaped by social, cultural, economic, and political circumstances. Through close readings of ethnographic and historical literature on epidemics, along with multimedia material from current events, we will investigate how and why major infectious and non-infectious epidemics play out in the ways that they do, and how people in different times, places, and contexts understand and experience these events. (Katherine Mason)

STS 1220A (CSCI 1805) - Computers, Freedom and Privacy
Who is the Big Brother that we most fear? Is it the NSA -- or is it Google and Facebook? Rapidly changing social mores and the growing problem of cybersecurity have all contributed to a sense that privacy is dead. Laws protecting privacy and civil liberties are stuck in the analog age, while the capabilities for mass digital surveillance continue to advance rapidly. This course will examine a variety of informational privacy and technology issues. A major theme: the historical and contemporary struggle to bring surveillance under democratic control to protect against abuses of privacy, civil liberties and human rights. (Timothy Edgar)

STS 1220B (CSCI 1870) - Cybersecurity Ethics
This timely, topical course offers a comprehensive examination of ethical questions in cybersecurity. These issues pervade numerous, diverse aspects of the economy and society in the Information Age, from human rights to international trade. Students will learn about these topics, beginning first with acquaintance with the dominant ethical frameworks of the 20th and 21st centuries, then employing these frameworks to understand, analyze, and develop solutions for leading ethical problems in cybersecurity. The things that you learn in this course will stay with you and inform your personal and professional lives. (Deborah Hurley)

STS 1694A (TAPS 1281W) - Artists and Scientists as Partners
This course focuses on current research on and practices in arts and healing, with an emphasis on dance and music for persons with Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Autism (ASD). Includes guest lecturers, readings, field trips, and site placements. Admission to class will be through application in order to balance the course between self-identified artists and scientists and those primarily interested in PD and those primarily interested in ASD. Enrollment limited to 30.  (Strandberg/ Balaban)

STS 1701A (AFRI 1920) - ) Health Inequality in Historical Perspective
Seminar takes a historical perspective to explore causes of health inequality. Draws on studies from the 19th century-present. Examines socio–political and economic context of health/disease, focusing on how race, class, and gender shape the experience of health, disease causality, and public health responses with emphasis on the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes health consequences of immigration and pandemics, incarceration, race-based medicine. Enrollment restricted to 20, second and third-year students. (Lundy Braun)

STS 1726 (ANTH 1601) Reimagining Climate Change
We know what causes climate change and we know what to do about it—yet it seems we only keep making it worse. Our climate stalemate suggests we need to look critically at the dominant responses to climate change so as to identify: why they have become commonsensical yet ineffectual or unrealizable; and why other responses remain silenced or unexplored. Such a lens impels us to reconsider silver-bullet “solutions” while creating space for views marginalized by exploitative, racist, patriarchal, and anthropocentric systems. Toward these ends, this course will prepare students to reconceptualize climate change and reimagine our responses to it. (Myles Lennon)

STS 1771A (ENVS 1910) The Anthropocene: The Past and Present of Environmental Change
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. (Bathsheba Demuth)

STS 1771B(ENVS 1926) Wasted:  Rethinking Chemical Environments
This senior seminar investigates chemical and other forms of industrially produced waste and its impacts on environment and society. We will take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on scholarship from anthropology, geography, history, sociology, science studies, and discard studies. We will follow chemicals around the world, from their inception in Western laboratories to their disposal in landfills and waste pits of the global South. Along the way, we will consider how corporations engineer chemicals’ manufacture, governments regulate their use, sciences measure their human and ecological effects, and communities contend with the lived realities of chemical exposure and toxic suffering.  (Scott Frickel)

STS 1790H (HIST 1977J) War and Medicine since the Renaissance
Since the Renaissance, warfare has mainly been a mass activity organized by states, with the ability to cause mass harm growing by leaps and bounds. At the same time, states have developed methods to care for their armed forces, and sometimes the civilians entangled in their military operations. This course will deal briefly with the history of warfare, and mainly with the ways in which states, citizens, and interested parties have attempted to ameliorate the bodily effects of warfare, from the Renaissance to the late 20th century. (Hal Cook)

STS 1900 Senior Seminar in Science and Society
This is an advanced seminar that uses a 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. (Jeffrey Poland)

STS 2385 (SOC 2385) Environmental Sociology 
As contestation over environmental concerns proliferates, it draws increasing attention from sociologists. But sociological research on environmental issues raises major challenges. Social-environmental relationships raise theoretical and methodological questions: How do we know an “environmental” issue when we see one? How can we effectively examine the relationships between environmental processes and social processes and structures?  (Scott Frickel)

STS 2400I (HMAN 2400I) Environmental Humanities
We live in a time of immense global change and ecological rupture that poses a foundational challenge for modern society. How are we to respond to environmental crises that take place on a geological scale without papering over complex issues of social inequality, racial difference, and powerful gender norms? How might we promote the flourishing of sustainable communities that include both human and non-human, present and future beings? This collaborative seminar will address deep philosophical questions like these by exploring a range of work in environmental humanities. The readings reflect a diversity of disciplinary commitments and methodological approaches ranging from History, Anthropology, and Philosophy to Indigenous Studies and Science Studies.  (Bathsheba Demuth and Lukas Rieppel)

STS 2700G (ANTH 2230) Medical Anthropology
This graduate seminar provides a theoretical, methodological, and ethnographic foundation in medical anthropology. The focus will be on sociocultural approaches to the study of the suffering, illness and the body, though the course will also engage with key issues in biocultural approaches to understanding disease processes. Topics will include: social suffering, religion and medicine, local biologies, gender and the body, biotechnology, bioethics, caregiving and doctoring, and the global burden of disease.  (Katherine Mason)