Fall 2018


Introductory Lectures

 Science Fictions:  The Misuse of Science in Public Life STS 0050 - People on all sides of the political spectrum distort or spin science to advance their own economic, policy, religious or other goals. The phenomenon is obvious today but it is not new, and it is visible on both the right and the left. In this seminar we consider what science is and how it works, how people learn about it, why they are vulnerable to spin about it (and how to avoid being spun) and how spin plays out with subjects like climate change, medicine, diet, the teaching of evolution, sex education, pollution and other issues. FYS WRIT

Communicating Science: Animating Science (BIOL 0140C) STS 0050H - Taught by RISD/Brown professors with the Science Ctr and Creative Mind Initiative, this course explores the pedagogy of using visual media to convey scientific concepts. The goal is to assess the quality of existing material and design new material that fill an educational need and makes science engaging and accessible. Lectures, labs, discussions, critiques and speakers. Teams collaborate on a series of short exercises leading to the creation of videos/animations explaining scientific concepts. Projects evaluated on accuracy, clarity of explanation, educational value, viewer engagement and creativity. Not for concentration credit in Biological Sciences programs. Enrollment limited to 12; instructor permission.

Culture and Health (ANTH 0300) STS 0120 - An introduction to the field of Medical Anthropology. Lecture reading and discussion will examine the social context of health and illness, looking at the diverse ways in which humans use cultural resources to cope with disease and develop medical systems. The course will provide an introduction to the overall theoretical frameworks that guide anthropological approaches to studying human health related behavior. Medical anthropology offers a unique and revealing perspective on the cultural diversity that characterizes human experiences of sexuality, disease, aging, mental illness, disability, inequality and death. DPLL WRIT

Humans, Nature, and the Environment: Addressing Environmental Change in the 21st Century (ENVS 0110) STS 0290 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.

Foods and Drugs in History (HIST 0150H) STS 0382 - 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

From Fire Wielders to Empire Builders:  Human Impact on the Global Environment before 1492 (HIST 0270A)

STS 0383 - 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.

Science and Social Controversy (STS 0700B) - 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. WRIT

Advanced Seminars:

Anthropology of Addictions and Recovery (ANTH 1300) STS 1721 - The purpose of this course is to consider the uses and misuses alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and approaches to recovery from addictions. We will read some of the major cross cultural, ethnographic, linguistic, and social-political works on addictions. Students will have the opportunity to conduct their own anthropological interviews regarding substance misuse and recovery as well as observe a local 12 step recovery meeting. Enrollment limited to 20. WRIT

Making Meaning: Extracting Knowledge from Matter in Early Modern Europe (HIST 1956J) STS 1790G - In this studio/seminar, co-taught by a RISD artist and a Brown historian, we will examine how material attains meaning. Through demonstrations, workshops, lectures, and hands-on making, we will explore instruments used to understand materials in 16th and 17th-century Europe (e.g. microscopes, alchemical alembics, printed books). We will also consider how those devices have inspired contemporary art practice. Final projects, which may take a variety of forms, will interrogate the relationship between matter and the devices used to understand it. Instructor Permission Required. Class meets at RISD and mandatory studio sections. Contact Professor Nummedal, for additional information.

Bureaucracy: A Modern History (HMAN 1973K ) STS 1801 - How did the office emerge as the quintessentially modern workspace? This seminar will explore the material history of the office, especially paperwork and other information technologies, as well as office management and design. We will also examine how bureaucratic forms of authority were enacted and put into practice, using the material history of the office as a means to ask broader questions about managerial oversight, governmentality, and institutional control, all in an attempt to understand how modern ideas about rationality and efficiency were leveraged to govern what seemed like an unruly world.

Senior Seminar in Science and Society (STS 1900) - This is an advanced seminar that uses a problem ased 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. WRIT

Advanced Graduate Seminars:

The Politics of Knowledge (HIST 2981F) STS 2700A - The seminar offers an introduction to fundamental theoretical texts and exemplary works in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies. Readings will be drawn from a range of time periods and geographical areas, and students will be asked to deploy the theoretical insights of our readings in working with sources in their own fields for a final research paper. Topics include: the gendered dimensions of knowledge, the moral economy of science, claims to expertise, and the stakes of "objectivity."

Independent Study

Independent Study in Science and Society - SCSO 1970

 SPRING 2019

Introductory Lectures

African American Health Activism from Emancipation to AIDS (AFRI 0550) STS 0050J - This historical survey course examines African American activism and social movements from Emancipation to the contemporary period through the lens of African American access to health resources. By paying close attention to how social and cultural aspects of medicine impact access and quality of care by race, gender, and sexuality, the course examines how segregation, poverty, incarceration, and policing shaped activism and healthcare. The course develops a sense of how African American activists crafted responses to different historical crises including Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the War on Drugs by the demands they made for specific resources. FYS WRIT DPLL

History of Medicine II:  The Development of Scientific medicine in Europe and the World (HIST 0286B) STS 0386 - From the 18th century onward, Western medicine has claimed universal validity due to its scientific foundations, relegating other kinds of medicine to the status of "alternative" practices. The course therefore examines the development of scientific medicine in Europe and elsewhere up to the late 20th century, and its relationships with other medical ideas, practices, and traditions. Students with knowledge of languages and the social and natural sciences are welcome but no prerequisites are required.

Freshman/Sophomore Seminars

Health, Illness and Medicine in Spanish American Literature and Film (HISP 0750Q) STS 0740 - In this class we will read/see, discuss and write about texts and films that deal with health, illness, death and medicine in primarily Spanish American contexts. Our approach will be informed by principals of Narrative Medicine that demonstrate how attending to, representing, and affiliating oneself with other human beings by studying literature and the arts can transform relationships between patients and healthcare professionals. We will be honing our reading and analytic skills as we confront the subjective dimensions of illness and medicine from humanistic and cross-cultural perspectives. IN SPANISH.

Poetry and Science (ENGL 0710R) STS 0760 - This course will explore the relationship between the observational procedures and modes of composition employed by twentieth and twenty-first century poets who have worked in more conceptual or avant-garde traditions and the practices of description and experimentation that have emerged out of history of science. Readings will range from Gertrude Stein’s poetic taxonomies to recent work in critical science studies.

Advanced Seminars:

Introduction to Science and Society: Theories and Controversies (STS 1000) - 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

Bioethics and Culture (STS1122) Bioethics and Culture - This course examines bioethics from an ethnographic point of view. Topics include pregnancy, death, suicide, disability, medical research, organ transplantation, and population control. We will distinguish between the moral experiences of people faced with difficult choices, and the ethical ideals to which they aspire. We will then ask: how can these perspectives be reconciled? When trying to reconcile these perspectives, how can we account for powerful dynamics of race, gender, class, religion, and cultural difference? Finally, how can we develop a code of ethics that takes these issues into account and also is fundamentally connected to everyday life? DPLL WRIT

From Medieval Bedlam to Prozac Nation:  Intimate Histories of Psychiatry and Self (HIST 1830M) STS 1390J - Humankind has long sought out keepers of its secrets and interpreters of its dreams: seers, priests, and, finally, psychiatrists. This lecture course will introduce students to the history of psychiatry in Europe, the United States, and beyond, from its pre-modern antecedents through the present day. Our focus will be on the long age of asylum psychiatry, but we will also consider the medical and social histories that intersect with, but are not contained by, asylum psychiatry: the rise of modern diagnostic systems, psychoanalysis, sexuality and stigma, race, eugenics, and pharmaceutical presents and futures.

Neuroethics (STS 1700P) - 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 judgment. Enrollment limited to 20. Instructor permission required.

Animal Histories (STS 1790F) HIST 1976G - Participants in this seminar are invited to explore human and non-human relations in the global past. The history of human-animal relations is huge, so rather than attempt a general survey, we situate our discussion around selected topics. We begin with one animal, the wolf, and move through established and less-familiar historical topics, building toward our final question: how does the inclusion of animals enhance the discipline? The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss said, "animals are good to think with." So is history. In this seminar we think through those things together.  WRIT

Independent Study

Independent Study in Science and Society - SCSO 1970