Benjamin Disraeli described the question placed before society by Charles Darwin's work as follows: "Is man an ape or an angel?" This course examines the development of evolutionary thinking during the nineteenth century and the resulting debates over the "Descent of Man." It explores the relationship between Darwin's theory of evolution and the social, political and religious history of Britain and the British Empire in the nineteenth century. The course serves as an introduction to analyzing the interactions between science and society, with particular attention to how Darwin's theory intersected with debates over God, Science, Empire, Ethics, Race, Gender, Economics, and Politics.
This course focuses on the history of science, technology, and society from Antiquity to 1700 C.E. It emphasizes both the theoretical understanding of nature and the practical mastery of the technologies of settled existence. Topics include: astronomy in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece; ancient Greek and early Chinese medicine; Islamic science in the Middle Ages; Renaissance anatomy, physiology, and natural history; and the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. Issues addressed include: the role of cultural institutions in the production and diffusion of scientific ideas; the transmission of science across linguistic and cultural boundaries; and the interaction of science with art, religion, philosophy and political life. There are no prerequisites, but the course assumes a working knowledge of biology, chemistry, and geometry at the high school level.
Students in this course analyze the development of the physical and biological sciences throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, paying special attention to the reciprocal relationship between scientific developments and their social influences. Beginning with the social and intellectual upheaval of the French Revolution and working through the first half of the twentieth century, this course surveys natural scientists' landmark discoveries and interpretations and examines the intellectual, social, natural, and personal influences that helped shape their work. Subjects of the course include Newtonianism, creationism, natural theology, evolution, the origin and demise of electromagnetic worldview, Einstein and the development of the theories of relativity, scientific institutions and methodologies, quantum mechanics, the atomic theory, molecular biology, big science, and modern genetics. STS 202 is meant as a complement to STS 201, but the prior course, while recommended, is not a prerequisite.
This course is an activity credit where students write for and participate in STS in the News, a student-run STS blog. Students become familiar with the approach and style of academic blog writing, producing essays with novel content that both engage with current events related to science and technology and synthesize ideas from STS scholarship. Weekly meetings are required to select topics, discuss STS, promote the development of writing skills, and manage STS in the News.
This is a 'Special Topics' course designed by students with the support of faculty to promote project-based learning for topics that do not fit within the rubric of an independent study or an existing full-unit course. The course broadly addresses themes related to STEM and social justice in a range of ways. Examples include designing a syllabus and seminar series on diversity in STEM or composing supplementary material for science courses on issues that relate to society and justice.
Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response. Technology has powerfully shaped and altered human experience. In this course, students examine what is technology, how is our relationship with technology changing, how does technology shape our modern culture and, in turn, how does our culture shape our technology. Topics covered may include: the industrial revolution, the airplane, Julia Child's kitchen, the Chernobyl disaster, and the development of the internet.
In this course students develop an understanding of the history of cancer medicine, the biology of cancer, and analyze public perceptions of both. Students build a solid foundation in the science, history, and social context of cancer to allow thoughtful exploration and critique of cancer history and to identify future areas of concern and hope.
In the mid 20th century, science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov envisioned the world in 2029 filled with complex and autonomous machines, capable of caring for children and engaging in interplanetary travel, mining, and political and military action. In contrast to this fictional world, how and why did the real inventors of computers, cybernetics, and robotic machinery create these technologies? What future(s) did they imagine for their inventions, and how did they understand the relationship between humans and machines? Did they envision an Asimovian future or something completely different? Did these technologies challenge them to re-think what it means to be human? Why or why not? In this course, students investigate the history of these fields to develop a better understanding of technology, society, and values in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Cosmology is the attempt to understand what the whole universe is, how the universe came into being, and what forms or structures organize it. Cosmology had its origins in myth, but soon incorporated elements of astronomy, physics, and philosophy. This course is a study of cosmological thought in its historical and cultural context, from the cosmologies of the ancient and medieval worlds to twentieth-century cosmology. Throughout, the course stresses not only the scientific content of the various cosmologies that have contended for primacy, but also their historical origins and their philosophical implications.
This course explores gender from a scientific perspective. Taking a comparative approach, students critically examine the biological and experiential / social factors that influence sex differences, gender roles, and sexual preference in human and non-human animals, as well as sexual orientation and gender identity in humans. Students consider how variation in sex and gender may evolve through natural and sexual selection, and how human perceptions of gender feedback to influence the scientific study of animals. Policy and ethical implications of scientific research on gender are also considered.
This course analyzes the interrelationship between scientific and technological innovation and the changing nature and scope of warfare in their socio-political and economic context from the 16th to the 21st century. The course is organized chronologically and topically to include the following: the professionalization of war and the military revolution of the 16th-17th centuries, the industrialization and mechanization of warfare in the 19th-20th centuries, the evolution of total war and the balance of nuclear terror in the age of the superpowers, and the technetronic and asymmetrical warfare of the 21st century.
This course examines the history of ideas about race in biology since the eighteenth century. Students study how and why knowledge about race has been constructed and used in particular contexts, and, in doing so, examine the complex relationship between science and society.
Although inventors in different countries and time periods contributed to the invention of the automobile, the car remains a symbol of American engineering and technological prowess, personal independence, adulthood, and social status. This course examines the intellectual and social history of the automobile in the United States and abroad. By analyzing cars as products of a large technological system, including, for example, tire manufacture, oil and gas production, road construction, gas stations, and a variety of other ancillary industries, this class investigates the social, economic, environmental, and cultural impacts of the automobile.
This course examines the historical relationship between the theory of evolution and society in the twentieth century, with an emphasis on Britain, Germany, and the United States since 1870. Students examine a range of efforts to apply evolution theory to human society (including social Darwinism, eugenics, scientific racism, and the biology of war and peace), and place these efforts in historical context. In doing so, students study the complex relationship between science and society, and the place of science in the intellectual, social, and cultural history of the twentieth century.
The study of evolution and ethics ' at the intersections between biology, the human sciences and philosophy ' has received a lot of attention in recent years. News stories abound that give, in sound byte form, the (often controversial) ethical implications of conclusions regarding evolutionary theory. Drawing upon historical and philosophical approaches, this course provides students with an interdisciplinary framework from which to understand and study such debates. The course examines the historical context of previous discussions regarding the implications of the theory of evolution for ethical theories, and examines modern debates regarding the normative implications that may or may not result from different interpretations of the conclusions of evolutionary biology.
What does it mean to live a scientific life? Historically, people have studied nature for many different reasons--to better understand humanity's place in the universe, to assist in the production of food and medicine, to satisfy curiosity, etc.--and this knowledge and understanding of the natural world has evolved over time. Science reflects not only nature's inner workings, but also social and cultural values and is shaped powerfully by what people want to see and know. This course examines how humanity found order and regularity in twentieth-century scientific studies and how and why people pursued that knowledge. Using a biographical approach, students develop a deeper appreciation for not only science, but also "the ambitions, passions, disappointments, and moral choices that characterize a scientist's life."
This course examines the history of both scientific ecology and recent movements to interrogate, question, and revise the West's understanding of nature, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). In doing so the course places both defenses and critiques of Western science in historical context, with particular emphasis on potential implications for environmental policy. Students examine how the rise of conservation and environmentalism, responses to imperialism and colonialism, and debates over the role of activism and advocacy in science have influenced ecologists' work, identity, and organizations. In doing so students study the interaction between science and society, while considering the important insights a historical understanding of science can bring to understanding modern concerns and controversies.
This course examines the connections between 20th century science (with particular emphasis on physics) and the effects of science on public policy, international relations, and the strategy and tactics of modern warfare. During the first half of the 20th century, physicists' concepts of the universe changed as new fields of thought emerged: relativity, quantum theory, and eventually nuclear physics. At the same time, the interactions between scientists and governments evolved significantly, as the scope of war expanded and, in response, new technologies were integrated into warfighting. The course focuses on the role that scientists played in the two world wars, culminating in the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bombs. It also examines the consequences of scientific and technological advancements for the conduct of 20th century warfare, including the impact of trains and machine guns on the battlefields of the First World War and of tanks and airpower in World War II. After considering the development of the atomic bomb and the results of its use against Japan, the course moves to explore the role of nuclear weapons during the Cold War and in the 21st century, as well as the emergence of new science-based military technologies, such as cyberwar.
"Better things for better living...through chemistry" was a popular slogan used by DuPont in the mid-to-late twentieth century to market laboratory-developed products. Increasingly, concerns have been raised about the merits and consequences of chemicals in our food, goods, and environment. This class analyzes how we know what we know about chemistry, and how studies of the very small shape fundamental questions about the world, e.g. what is natural, what is artificial, does the difference matter, and if so in what contexts? By investigating a series of historical episodes that highlight some of the key intellectual, social, and political challenges of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this course examines how we learn about, modify, and relate to our environment chemically. From the development of the periodic table to the study of pollution, this course encourages students to gain an appreciation for the science of chemistry while engaging in cross-disciplinary dialogue about ways in which chemistry affects our daily lives.
In the early Twentieth Century, new experimental evidence encouraged physicists to abandon a consistent and nearly complete description of nature. They replaced common sense notions about the physical world with strange realities based on the new theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. As the physicists' new explanations of nature grew increasingly counter-intuitive, it became harder for non-physicists to understand precisely what physicists where doing. Without using higher mathematics, this course explores quantum mechanics and relativity as they describe the nature of matter and energy and the structure of space and time. It also addresses how physicists struggled to understand the philosophical implications of the new physical theories, how they worked to express their strange descriptions of nature to both public and professional audiences, and how they maintained public support for their increasingly expensive explorations of nature.
This seminar is required of all majors and minors in STS, but is also open to all students interested in the relationships between science, technology and society. Students study various approaches developed by historians, sociologists and philosophers of science and technology. The methods and approaches learned in this course provide a foundation for the STS Senior Seminar, in which students complete a substantial research project on a topic of their choice. For non-majors, the course offers an overview of how and why scholars have studied science and technology in different ways, and also provides an opportunity to practice thinking, talking and writing about science beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries.
This class provides an intensive introduction to the scientific study of memory, and then examines the application of this science to four important social contexts. These include the social implications of age-related changes in memory, the role of memory in between-individual and between-group relations, the role of memory in the courtroom, and the role of memory in advertising and marketing.
Why do people commit crimes and what role does forensic science play in determining who is culpable? Using a historical approach, this course examines the development of forensic science and criminology. It focuses on the history of forensic medicine and psychology, fingerprinting, toxicology, blood typing, DNA evidence as well as the role of expert witnesses in homicide investigations. It also includes a discussion of the legal issues surrounding what constitutes admissible evidence and how that has changed over time.
A survey of the history, science, and technology of Mars exploration. Topics include the discovery of Mars by ancient civilizations, the first telescopic observations of Mars, the economics and politics of the U.S. and Russian Mars exploration programs, spacecraft design and the technologies needed for planetary exploration, and the future of Mars exploration including a possible manned mission to Mars. The scientific component of this course focuses on the planetary evolution of Mars and the question of whether life might have arisen on Mars. The class also takes a brief look at Mars in popular culture including literature, radio, and film.
This course surveys the history of medicine from ancient times to the present, guided by the following questions. How have people in different times and contexts made sense of health, disease, and healing? How have changing conceptions of nature and the scientific study of the human body influenced medicine? What have been the social, political, and institutional contexts in which medicine has been done and developed? How has the role of the doctor and patient relationship changed, and how have conceptions of a 'good doctor' and 'good medicine' changed? How have the problems of access to and distribution of medical care been approached? Examining each of these questions in historical context will, in turn, provide a foundation for contemplating modern issues in medical research and practice, as well as medicine's place in modern society.
Over the centuries the traditions of both science and religion have attempted to improve our understanding of ourselves, society, and the natural world. This course examines the relationship between science and religion. It asks students to critically analyze the various models that have been proposed to characterize that relationship - from one of conflict to cooperation - using a series of historical case studies. Through developing a historical understanding of how people have viewed these important traditions, students obtain a nuanced background from which to develop their own assessment of the relationship between these extraordinarily influential ways of knowing.
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.
During World War I, teams of chemists, engineers, and military leaders in Germany, France, the United States and elsewhere worked to prepare chemical weapons that could be deployed on battlefields. The field use of chemical weapons proved to be difficult and unreliable so they were little used as combat weapons in World War II, though related chemicals were key tools of the Nazi holocaust. Chemical weapons have also been deployed often in smaller conflicts, including very recently. If the first world war was the chemists' war, the second was the physicists' and led to the development and use of nuclear weapons. Fortunately, there has not yet been a biologists' war, although germ warfare has been an active area of research by national governments. In the period after World War II, international efforts at controlling weapons of mass destruction, preventing their proliferation to other nations, and protecting stockpiles from falling into unauthorized hands has proved to be difficult and complicated. In this course students become familiar with the history of weapons of mass destruction and analyze humanitarian, political, and geopolitical arguments about their development and possible use. Students also learn to evaluate strategies for their control.
This course considers the ethical, political, and philosophical questions that are being raised today by rapid advances in biotechnology'especially in genetic engineering, neuropharmacology, brain science, and cybernetics . For example: Is there an important distinction between the therapeutic and enhancement uses of biotechnology? Is there a human nature and can/should it be transcended? Should humans take control of their own evolution? What is the human self/agent and how is it related to brain chemistry? What is wrong with performance enhancers like steroids? Is there a difference between natural and artificial intelligence? How far can/should the human brain be interfaced with computers? Is the radical extension of human life desirable? Is human cloning immoral? Should parents design their children? Are humans now usurping the role of God or nature? Should humans aim to enhance and perfect their bodies and minds? Is the goal of human enhancement compatible with egalitarianism? Should human enhancement be left up to market forces or must it be regulated by the state? Should humans shape the lives of future generations according to present values?
In this course students learn about "big issues" confronting the relationship between STEM fields, society, and justice today, while learning about curriculum and lesson plan design. They then design a complete teaching module on an issue of their choice concerning fairness and justice connected with STEM disciplines (to be implemented by the STS Program, in consultation with the students, in the Fall). In doing so students learn about, reflect upon, and implement strategies for communicating themes, problems, and issues concerning the place of STEM in society and the influence of society on STEM knowledge, practices and fields.
In this course students will carry out original research and compose an extensive, original research paper on an approved topic, building on the approaches examined in STS 350. This will consist of the creation of an extensive annotated bibliography and research paper on an STS topic of each student's choice.
This seminar is required of all majors and minors in STS, and is offered in the Fall of each year. It is a practicum in the research methods of Science, Technology, and Society in which students work closely with the instructor to develop a familiarity with research sources and strategies. Students become familiar with the history and development of the STS disciplines and with a range of research approaches that are open to them for their own work. Students formulate major research proposals, complete a substantial research paper, and make oral presentations of their work. Students who write a thesis in the Spring of the Senior year generally use their STS 490 project as a springboard.
Students in this course build on research completed in STS 490 Senior Seminar to complete an extensive research project on an STS topic . Note that achievement of a B+ or higher in STS 490 is required to register for STS 492.
Research under the close supervision of a faculty member on a topic agreed upon. Application and proposal to be submitted to the department chair and faculty research advisor. Recommended for majors prior to the senior research semester.
This scheduled weekly interdisciplinary seminar provides the context to reflect on concrete experiences at an off-campus internship site and to link these experiences to academic study relating to the political, psychological, social, economic and intellectual forces that shape our views on work and its meaning. The aim is to integrate study in the liberal arts with issues and themes surrounding the pursuit of a creative, productive, and satisfying professional life. Students receive 1.0 unit of academic credit for the academic work that augments their concurrent internship fieldwork. This course is not applicable to the Upper-Division Graduation Requirement. Only 1.0 unit may be assigned to an individual internship and no more than 2.0 units of internship credit, or internship credit in combination with co-operative education credit, may be applied to an undergraduate degree.