Presents concepts and theories used to investigate the creation, application, and governance of science and technology. Addresses the nature of scientific and technological knowledge, social construction of science and technology, democracy and science, and public understanding.
What makes science a reliable mode of inquiry? This is the question that preoccupied early philosophers and sociologists of science. The modern field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) transformed the question, asking instead: how is science made? In this introduction to the field, we will look at how STS scholars have answered that question. In particular, we will see how social and cultural studies of science have shown science, technology, and society to be active constructions, all three produced simultaneously in processes that involve diverse groupings of people, gadgets, and organic matter (to name a few!). Looking at science is made, however, begs the original question: why, and under what circumstances, should we trust science? Throughout the course, we will consider how STS scholars have responded to that question—that is, how they have positioned science as both constructed and reliable—using the example of STS approaches to research on global climate change.
Student learning goals
To explain how science, technology, and society are co-produced in the making of technoscience, and how science comes to be trusted as reliable knowledge through processes of black-boxing and boundary work (among others);
To contrast STS-informed understandings of how science is made and what makes it reliable with popular and idealized views of the nature of science
To identify processes of co-production and boundary work in public discourses surrounding science and science policy (especially with respect to global climate change)
To identify STS-informed perspectives and locate STS scholarship and resources on myriad topics of interest to you
To read independently scholarly writings in the social sciences—even complex ones—and understand their main points and major contributions
General method of instruction
Classes will entail guided discussion, supplemented by lectures for background and context. Students will also learn from assigned readings.
Capacity for college-level reading and writing; curiosity about the place of science and technology in our world.
Class assignments and grading
Reading In-class and Homework Assignments, including pre-class analysis of assigned readings (25%) Article Review (25% - 10% oral; 15% written) Midterm and Final Exams (25% each)