Courses

Fall 2016

Introductory Lectures

 Humans, Nature, and the Environment (ENVS 0110) SCSO 0290 - Offers a survey introduction to contemporary environmental issues and is a "gateway" class for those interested in concentrations in environmental studies/sciences. It is a required course for concentrators. 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. One 90-minute weekly discussion group required. WRIT

Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 0350)  SCSO 0251 - We will discuss the ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics of the principal figures in ancient philosophy from the Presocratics to Aristotle. Emphasis is given to understanding the problems the philosophers were trying to solve and to assessing the arguments for their various positions. Primary readings are from the original sources in translation. WRIT        

Poetic Cosmologies (ENGL 0700Q)  SCSO 0270 - This course will examine how various traditions within modern and contemporary poetry have addressed the question of materiality. Readings will range from poetic explorations of the archaeologies of place by William Carlos Williams and Charles Olson, to the investigations of non-human materialities of crystals, clouds and bacteria by writers such as Clark Coolidge, Christian Bök and Lisa Robertson. Enrollment limited to 30.

Global History of the Atomic Age (HIST 0276) SCSO 0380 - We live in the atomic age. From 1945 to the foreseeable future, atomic weapons and nuclear energy have had (and will continue to have) a tremendous effect on global politics, the environment, and everyday life around the world. This course introduces students to three themes in this broader history: first, we examine the origins of nuclear proliferation and the global arms race; second, we explore cultural responses to the atomic age; third, we juxtapose the excitement over the unlimited promise of nuclear energy with the slow catastrophes that accompanied weapons development, the nuclear industry, and waste storage.

Environmental Science in a Changing World (ENVS 0490) SCSO 0293 - Introduces students to environmental science and the challenges we face in studying human impacts on an ever-changing earth system. We will explore what is known, and not known, about how ecosystems respond to perturbations. This understanding is crucial, because natural systems provide vital services (water and air filtration, climate stabilization, food supply, erosion and flood control) that cannot be easily or inexpensively replicated. Special emphasis will be placed on climate, food and water supply, population growth, and energy.

Freshman/Sophomore Seminars

Science and Social Controversy SCSO 0700B - In this course we will examine the institution of science and its relations to the social context in which it is embedded. Such topics as scientific objectivity, scientific consensus, scientific authority, and the social and moral accountability of scientists will be considered in the context of discussing several controversies including: the AIDS epidemic, climate change, science and religion, the Manhattan Project, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, genetic and pharmacological enhancement of human capacities, 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.

Advanced Lectures 

Health and Healing in American History (AMST 1601) SCSO 1110 - Surveys the history of American medicine in its social and political contexts, including changing understandings of disease, treatment practices, and medical institutions. Focuses on how gender and race have informed how patients and healers have made sense out of pain and disease. WRIT

Bioethics and Culture (ANTH 1242) SCSO 1122 - 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? And finally, how can we develop a code of ethics that takes these issues into account and also is fundamentally connected to everyday life? DPLL LILE WRIT

Human Population Genomics (BIOL 1465) SCSO 1160 - An introduction to human genomics and the evolutionary forces that shape observed genetic variation across humans today. Topics will include the relationship among humans and other primates, human population genetics and genomics, and examples of the concomitant evolution of both cultural traits and domesticated organisms. Assignments include a class presentation and reviewing papers on a selected topic. Expected background: BIOL 0470 or 0480, and BIOL 0495, PHP 2500, or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 25. Instructor permission required. WRIT

Science, Medicine, and Technology in the 17th Century (HIST 1825H) SCSO 1392 - 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. P

Nature on Display (HIST 1820G) SCSO 1393 - This course will explore the different ways in which people have represented the natural world in a variety of context and time periods from the 16th to the 21st century. We will look at the depiction of nature in museums, gardens, documentary films, and municipal parks, as well as the science of biology and ecology. As we do so, we will explore our changing attitudes towards nature and the place that we occupy in it, thinking through the complex and philosophically fraught question of what nature is, and what, if anything, distinguishes it from the rest of our world. WRIT

The Roots of Modern Science (HIST 1825L) SCSO 1394 - This course explores the ways theories of physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics grew in relation to the natural, cultural and social worlds of the 18th and 19th centuries. There are no formal pre-requisites for the course, which is designed to be equally open and accessible to science and humanities students. WRIT

Philosophy of Science (PHIL 1590)  SCSO 1522 - 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 

Feathery Things An Avian Introduction to Animal Science (HMAN 1972F) SCSO 1395 - 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. 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. We will explore birds channeled through literature, visual arts, ornithology, behavioral sciences, musicology, history, ethnography, and the history of science. In addition to reading and discussion, we also will experience the birds around us through a five-part indoor and outdoor ‘”laboratory” dedicated to bird-watching skills.

Advanced Seminars: Topics in Science and Society

War and Mind in Modern America (AMST 1905N) SCSO 1701G – This course examines how the crucible of war has shaped modern conceptions of human nature. Moving from the Civil War to the present, we will consider questions such as changing theories of combat trauma, evolutionary and social scientific explanations for why people fight wars, and the role of memory in individual and collective understandings of violent conflicts. Students will analyze representations of war in film and literature in addition to reading historical and theoretical texts. WRIT

Picturing Paradise: Art and Science in the Americas (HMAN 1972C) SCSO 1701J - The study of nature has developed together with the representation of flora and fauna in Europe and the Americas. After the encounter, visual thinking remained an integral part of how knowledge was negotiated between different communities on both sides of the Atlantic—as several scientific expeditions involving artists confirm. This course, which includes field trips to museums and collections, examines connections between knowing and making, ranging from the tradition of pre-Columbian writer-painters to contemporary Latin American artist collectives. We will investigate the entangled histories of art and science as seen through the artistic productions inspired by the exuberant American land.

Anthropology of Climate Change (ANTH 1112) SCSO 1701K - Contemporary climate change is a profoundly human issue. This course disaggregates “the human” in climate change, employing an anthropological perspective to ask how people experience changing climates in different ways throughout the world. From receding glaciers to rising seas to unpredictable seasons and periods of drought, the ways people understand, respond to, and experience climate change are shaped by diverse cultures and histories. Topics include environmental change, capitalism, energy, climate justice in indigenous communities, green economies, tropical forests, denial and skepticism, and the visibility of climate change. Articles and ethnographies cover the Global North as well as the Global South. DPLL

Plato’s Theatetus (PHIL 2150I) SCSO 2700E - In this seminar, we will discuss Plato's Theaetetus, his investigation of knowledge, and associated topics, including relativism, perception, true and false judgment, and accounts, with a view to understanding how Plato distinguishes knowledge from true belief. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.

Concentration Required Course 

SCSO 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.

Independent Study

SCSO 1970     Independent Study in Science and Society