STS 375

Science and Politics

There is a long tradition of seeing science as apolitical but historically a complex relationship has existed between science and politics. Scientists work within political structures, and those systems in turn influence what kinds of science are pursued within a given society. Science has also come with norms that make claims about what kind of political systems support the best kind of science. This course draws on historical, sociological and philosophical studies of science, primary source material from scientists, politicians and others, as well as literature, film, and cartoons. Students examine issues such as these: the types of science that get done within democratic and totalitarian systems; in communist, socialist, and capitalist societies; how and why science has been harnessed in fights over political authority; and how political decisions direct the scientists' careers and the trajectory of scientific disciplines.