Program in Science, Technology and Society
Fall 2021 Courses
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. Fulfills requirement for Certificate in Data Fluency.
STS 0290- Humans, Nature, and The Environment: Addressing Environmental Change in the 21st Century (ENVS 0110) - 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. Each student must register for a 50-minute weekly engaged scholar lab in addition to lectures. Each lab will partner with a community organization to complete an engaged, environmental project.
STS 0381A - History of Capitalism (HIST 0150A) - Capitalism didn't just spring from the brain of Adam Smith. Its logic is not encoded on human DNA, and its practices are not the inevitable outcome of supply and demand. So how did capitalism become the dominant economic system of the modern world? History can provide an answer by exploring the interaction of culture and politics, technology and enterprise, and opportunity and exploitation from the era of the Atlantic Slave Trade to the 2008 Financial Crisis. HIST 0150 courses introduce students to methods of historical analysis, interpretation, and argument. This class presumes no economics background, nor previous history courses.
STS 0610A - Environmental Sociology (SOC 0250) - Environmental problems are rooted in societies’ complex and changing relationship with the natural world. Understanding those environmental problems, let alone solving them, requires careful investigation of nature-society interactions. Through lectures, readings, discussion, and written work, students will examine the social and historical foundations of contemporary environmental problems and societal efforts to address or resolve those problems. Building on these foundations, we will explore the social dimensions of three (interrelated) “environmental grand challenges”: curbing climate change, preparing for and responding to environmental disasters, and building sustainable cities. Through all of these challenges, questions of environmental inequality and environmental racism loom large.
STS 0760 - Poetry and Science (ENGL 0710R) - 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.
STS 1210A - Literature and Medicine (COLT 1810P) - The purpose of this course is to examine a number of central issues in medicine-disease, pain, trauma, madness, the image of the physician-- from the distinct perspectives of the sciences and the arts. Texts will be drawn from authors such as Sophocles, Hawthorne, Gilman, Tolstoy, Kafka, Anderson, O'Neill, Hemingway, Ionesco, Verghese, Barker, Sacks, Foucault, Sontag, Scarry, Gawande and others. Open enrollment course: lecture + section.
STS 1220B - Cybersecurity Ethics (CSCI 1870) - 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.
STS 1390L - Science, Medicine and Technology in the 17th Century (HIST 1825H) - This course examines the development of science and related fields in the period sometimes called 'the scientific revolution'. It will both introduce the student to what happened, and ask some questions about causes and effects. The new science is often associated with figures like Harvey, Galileo, Descartes, Boyle, Leeuwenhoek, and Newton. But it is also associated with new ways of assessing nature that are mingled with commerce. The question of the relationship between developments in Europe and elsewhere is therefore also explored.
STS 1625 Philosophy of Biology (PHIL 1900) - This course introduces philosophy of biology through engagement with historical and contemporary philosophical and scientific texts. We will ask epistemological questions about evolutionary biology, that seek a broader understanding of the status of biology as a science, and about fundamental concepts and categories of biological theory. We will ask whether and how biological knowledge (e.g. about health, “human nature,” or ecosystems) might be relevant to philosophical or ethical claims. Relatedly, we will ask questions about the roles of social values in biology. For example: How have concepts of ‘race’ and racial difference been theorized in philosophy and biology, and how has scientific racism mischaracterized human diversity? Students will leave the course with an appreciation for the relevance and importance of philosophical debates both within and about the life sciences.
STS 1700R Bodies at Work: Disability and Capitalism - If disability has been defined as the inability to work, then an exploration of disability necessitates an exploration of capitalism. Workplaces literally injure and disable bodies, while changing arrangements of labor define and redefine what makes something a disability, requiring new tasks of bodies at work. This course traces the dynamic relationship between bodies and economies over the course of American history—from the birth of industrial management science in the nineteenth century, to the “essential worker” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nimbly moving back and forth between disability studies and labor history, we will develop the conceptual tools to understand capitalism through the lens of disability, while also generating new ways to think about disability via critical histories of capitalism. We will also look at how disabled people have pushed back, envisioning new ways of valuing bodies beyond productivity. DIAP.
STS 1701A - Health Inequality in Historical Perspective (AFRI 1920) - 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.
STS 1720 - Anthropology of Addictions and Recovery (ANTH 1300) - 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 conduct their own anthropological interviews regarding substance misuse and recovery as well as observe a local 12 step recovery meeting in the community. Students will engage in discussions of recovery with community partners. Enrollment limited to 20.
STS 1801A - Costs of Climate Change (HMAN 1974S) - This seminar examines debates over the costs - economic, environmental, and social - of climate change. We will explore how economists attempt to solve seemingly impossible problems of valuation like: how much should we value the wellbeing of current versus future generations? How much value does the ecosystem as a whole provide? We will then survey how these numbers (sometimes) enter into environmental regulatory debates. Finally, we will study how movements fighting for environmental justice adopt - or reject - the language of economics to make claims about the morality and economics of fossil fuel producers.
STS 1802A - Planning the Family (HMAN 1975G) - This course explores 20th-century efforts to address population growth and family planning in a variety of global contexts, ranging from macro-level initiatives to individual practices. For some women, state leaders, and international experts, contraception meant sexual liberation, increased autonomy, and the reduction of economic hardship. But for others, the same biomedical technologies were associated with colonial control and efforts to reduce “undesirable” people. How is it possible for contraception to hold such expansive and contradictory meanings? In order to assess this central question, students will engage with critical theories of gender, race, class, nationalism, and decolonization.
STS 1900 - Senior Seminar in Science, Technology 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.
STS 2700D - Race and Species (HIST 2981T) - Human races and non-human species are intertwined. This seminar explores the co-constitution between racial categories and the also-constructed boundaries between species. The Great Chain of Being was the western hierarchy that arrayed matter and life upward from mineral to vegetable to animal, with humans at the apex. The extension of European empire over other continents infused human difference into the hierarchy. Non-humans were racialized and humans were animalized. Readings include post-colonial and post-human theorists on the more-than human condition as well as historians and anthropologists on multi-species politics in the imperial metropole, settler societies, and the Global South.
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.
Botanical Roots of Modern Medicine (BIOL 0190E) STS 0050L - This course will explore a variety of medicinal plants found throughout the world, the diverse cultures that use them in their daily lives and the scientific underpinnings of their medicinal uses. In conjunction with readings, students will gain a hands-on approach in lab, observing, identifying and growing these plants. Enrollment limited to 19. Students MUST register for the lecture section and the lab.
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
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
Pride and Prejudice in the Development of Scientific Theories (BIOL 0190P) STS 0050K - 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.
Chemistry and Art (CHEM 0999) STS 0770A - “Chemistry and Art” is an interdisciplinary course that explores different chemical concepts and techniques through the lenses of art and art history. The topics covered include paint and painting, stained glass; pottery and porcelains; gemstones and jewelry; color and art conservation. Drawing from early artistic texts, we will take a historically informed approach, connecting medieval stained-glass techniques, early pigmentation sourcing, and Qin dynasty pottery work to modern chemical explanations. Throughout the course, lectures, discussions, hands-on activities, and writing are totally integrated and the chemistry principles and techniques behind art objects and art-making are introduced through a series of case studies
Astronomy Before the Telescope (ASYR 1600) STS 1161 - 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.
Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CSCI 1805) STS 1220A - 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.
Artists and Scientists as Partners (TAPS 1281W) STS 1694A - 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.
Philosophy of Science (PHIL 1590) STS 1622 - 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?
Nature, Knowledge, Power in Renaissance Europe (HIST 1825F) STS 1390K - This course examines the creation and circulation of scientific knowledge in Renaissance Europe, ca. 1450-1600. We will explore the practices, materials, and ideas not just of astronomers and natural philosophers, but also of healers, botanists, astrologers, alchemists, and artisans. How did social, political, economic, and artistic developments during this period reshape how naturalists proposed to learn about, collect, manipulate, and commercialize nature? We will also consider the ways in which colonial projects forced Europeans to engage with other “ways of knowing” and rethink classical knowledge systems.
Science at the Crossroads (HIST 1825M) STS 1390I - This course will look closely at the dramatic developments that fundamentally challenged Western Science between 1859 and the advent of the Second World War in the 1930s. Its primary focus will be on a variety of texts written in an effort to understand and interpret the meanings of fundamentally new ideas including from the biological side--evolutionary theory, genetic theory, and eugenics; from the physical side relativity theory, and quantum mechanics. The class should be equally accessible to students whose primary interests lie in the sciences and those who are working in the humanities.
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
Cybersecurity Ethics (CSCI 1870) STS 1220B - 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.
Senior Seminar in Science and Society (STS 1900) - 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. WRIT
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 in Science and Society - SCSO 1970