Courses

PROGRAM IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & SOCIETY (STS)

Spring 2020


STS 0080 - Data, Ethics and Society (DATA 0080)
A course on the social, political, and philosophical issues raised by the theory and practice of data science. Explores how data science is transforming not only our sense of science and scientific knowledge, but our sense of ourselves and our communities and our commitments concerning human affairs and institutions generally. Students will examine the field of data science in light of perspectives provided by the philosophy of science and technology, the sociology of knowledge, and science studies, and explore the consequences of data science for life in the first half of the 21st century.

STS 0140A Water, Culture and Power (ARCH 0680)
Water is the source of life. In the midst of global climate change, environmental crises over water resources, and increasingly ubiquitous political debates over water, we are beginning to recognize humans' complete dependence on water. This course investigates our long-term attachment and engagement with water from the point of view of archaeological, environmental, visual, literary, and historical sources. From flowing rivers to churning seas and from aqueducts to public fountains, we will explore the cultural and environmental aspects of water in the Near East, Mediterranean, and Europe beginning with the Last Ice Age and ending in the modern day.

STS 0294 Political Ecology: Power, Difference and Knowledge (ENVS 0715) 
This course introduces students to political ecology — an approach to environmental issues that emphasizes power relations, inequalities, and difference. After surveying the genealogy, diversity and theoretical basis of political ecology, we will examine case studies that draw on the approach. By focusing on the relationship between nature, power, economics and the making of environmental knowledge, this course will illustrate how environmental questions are always deeply political. We will discuss new analytical directions political ecologists have developed in recent decades and assess what we gain as environmental researchers when we actively interrogate power.

STS 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.

STS 1122 Bioethics and Culture (ANTH 1242)
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?

STS 1161A Scientific Thought in Ancient Iraq (ASYR 1725)
This course will investigate a variety of ancient scientific disciplines using primary sources from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). By reading the original texts and studying the secondary literature we will explore the notion of scientific thought in the ancient world and critique our own modern interpretation of what “science” is and how different traditions have practiced scientific methods towards a variety of aims. Looking at a range of disciplines will allow us to compare and contrast the different ways in which scientific thinking is transmitted in the historical record.

STS 1300A Science and Power: The Corruption of Environmental Health (ENVS 1552)
Students will engage in a semester-long discussion about environment, health, science, ethics, and power. How do public health and the environment relate to each other, and how is each shaped by shared and/or contested cultural values? How do deeply-held but historically-specific ideas about the family, nation, gender, money, race, the market, etc. affect how we conceptualize and attempt to solve health problems? What are the most effective ways to improve environmental health on the local, national, and/or global level? Readings, movies and YouTube presentations in epidemiology, bioethics, cultural theory, public health and history will be used to address such questions.

STS 1390P Environmental History of East Asia (HIST 1820B)
With a fifth of the world’s population on a twentieth of its land, the ecosystems of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam have been thoroughly transformed by human activity. This course will explore the human impact on the environment from the first farmers to the industrial present, exploring how wildlife was eliminated by the spread of agriculture, how states colonized the subcontinent, how people rebuilt water systems, and how modern communism and capitalism have accelerated environmental change. Each week we will examine primary sources like paintings, essays, maps and poems. The course assumes no background in Asian or environmental history.

STS 1694B Artists and Scientists as Partners: Theory to Practice (TAPS 1281Z)
This course focuses on the application of current research in neuroscience, education, narrative medicine, and best practices in the arts for persons with neurological disorders. Through site placements, students provide arts experiences (primarily dance and music) for persons with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The course also includes guest lecturers, readings, curriculum development, analyzing and developing research methodology, ethnographic research, and planning of and participation in a convening of artists, scientists and educators in an intergenerational exploration. Completion of TAPS 1281W highly recommended, but course may be taken with no prior experience in science, dance or music.

STS 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.

STS 1701B Race, Difference and Biomedical Research: Historical Considerations (AFRI 1930)
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 preferred. Enrollment limited to 20; instructor permission.

STS 1726 Reimagining Climate Change (ANTH 1601)
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.

STS 2700F Special Topics in Ancient Sciences (ASYR 2700)
This course will be a topics course containing a detailed technical and cultural study of an area of science in a culture of the ancient world. Although intended for graduate students, undergraduate students who have taken EGYT 1600 or AWAS 1600 or a similar course may be admitted at the instructor's discretion.