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Course List (NCR Campus)

All spring courses in the Greater Washington, DC Metro Area will be held online using Zoom and Canvas

STS 5306: Main Themes in the Philosophy of Modern Science and Technology (core course) Instructor: Jim Collier
Mondays 7:00–9:45pm, ONLINE via Zoom

Our course will focus on philosophical approaches to technology. In part, we will locate these approaches in article-length works—by Andrew Feenberg, Martin Heidegger, Don Ihde, Diane Michelfelder, and Shannon Vallor among others—found in leading compilations on the philosophy of technology and as reflected on the STS prelim reading list. Our course will emphasize the close reading of selected works. In addition, we will pose and address meta-philosophical questions that will covey into other into other forms of inquiry. Examples of such meta-philosophical queries include: What does the philosophical study of technology afford us compared to, say, the philosophical study of science? What does the dominant turn to technology mean for STS? How can we read and write philosophical accounts of technology through sociological and historical lenses and vice versa? Our course assumes little or no background in academic philosophy. We will conduct our course in the spirit of mutual inquiry that locates students where they are and guides them to where they want to go.

 

STS/PAPA 6664: Adv. Topics in S&T Policy: Science, Technology, and Social Justice (elective course)
Instructor: Barbara Allen
Tuesdays 7:00–9:45pm, ONLINE via Zoom

Most policies, procedures, rules and regulations have embedded within them some conception of social justice. As scholars and practitioners in the policy arena, a better understanding of the myriad contemporary framings of justice will enable one to articulate, defend and operationalize desired outcomes more effectively. The goal of this course is to examine issues in science and technology through contemporary lenses of justice in order to better understand the social-ethical dimensions of policy practices. The first part of the course will introduce students to theoretical work by contemporary justice scholars in political philosophy, philosophy, sociology and other disciplines. The second part will focus on policy practices and allied procedures, such as institutional processes, agenda setting, classifications, etc., and explore how normative positions intersect with technoscience and related areas of expertise. The third part will provide students with an opportunity to research their own project.

 

STS 5206: History of Technology (core course)
Instructor: Janet Abbate
Wednesdays 7:00–9:45pm, ONLINE via Zoom

This graduate seminar will examine important works of scholarship covering a wide range of topics, including: systems theory and social construction of technology, issues of production, use, and obsolescence, cultural studies of technology, race and gender, and technological failure. The major focus will be on 19th-20th century America, but the course will explore also European, African, and Asian case studies. Students will become familiar with core STS readings showcasing diverse historical approaches. We will identify key themes and debates and analyze how authors use evidence, theory, and narrative strategies to make their arguments. Requirements include online and class discussion and short writing assignments, including one book review, reading responses, and a final research paper on a topic of your choice.

STS 6534 (Advanced Topics): History and Social Studies of Computing and Software (elective)

Instructor: Anne Fitzpatrick

Wednesdays 7:00–9:45pm, ONLINE via Zoom

STS 6534 (Advanced Topics): History and Social Studies of Computing and Software

A broad exploration of the roots and evolution of information technology and the computer is critical for those working and living in our increasingly digitized society. In a globalized world, information technology (IT) is shaping not only domestic issues and culture, but also global politics, supply chains, and cyber security. This interdisciplinary course will explore computing, as both a human and machine activity, from a historical context forward to today’s major IT policy issues. We’ll trace computing’s evolution from early manual devices to punched cards, scientific supercomputing and the contemporary explosion of data-oriented computing and consumer driven IT capitalism. We will explore original works by John von Neumann and other computing luminaries as well as more recent scholarly studies that critically examine trends in computer hardware and software, gender in computing, the race for exascale, artificial intelligence, quantum, and the impact of the FAANG companies on our economy and lives. 

STS 6674 (Alternate Perspectives): Peace and Conflict (elective)

Instructor: Christine Leuenberger

Thursdays 7:00–9:45pm, ONLINE via Zoom

   This course brings together information produced by academics and policy-makers that relates science and technology to issues of peace and conflict in the contemporary world. We will discuss how various issues ranging from nationalism and ethnocentrism; land-, water-, resource- and infrastructure management; as well as various scientific and knowledge practices can exacerbate conflict that can impact our ability to deal with current challenges, ranging from climate change, migration, to the rise of hard borders. At the same time, we will investigate how trans-border collaboration and regional integration, as well as transborder knowledge production, education and science diplomacy have the potential to serve as tools for peace and capacity building and for establishing a platform that enables us to better address policy challenges in the 21st century. In this course we draw on a range of disciplinary traditions, with a particular focus on Science & Technology Studies, International Relations, Border Studies, as well as Peace & Conflict Studies. We will also work with and discuss issues of peace and conflict with policy-makers, experts and stakeholders involved in policy-making and in peace-and capacity-building.

Theoretical and practical aspects of the public's role in the development, application, and oversight of scientific and technological advances.

Intellectual and institutional history of the field. Key theories, methods, and domains of study. Relation among perspectives from contributing disciplines, and emerging interdisciplinary trends. Emphasis on both solid grounding through classic texts, and discussion of emergent research areas.

Theoretical and methodological issues addressed in the interdisciplinary social study of contemporary science and technology. 5105: social studies of science; 5106: social studies of technology. I

Theoretical and methodological issues addressed in the interdisciplinary social study of contemporary science and technology. 5105: social studies of science; 5106: social studies of technology. II

Methods and concepts in the history of science and technology. 5205: research methods, interpretive approaches, and contemporary issues in the history of science; 5206: research methods, interpretive approaches, and contemporary issues in the history of technology. I

Methods and concepts in the history of science and technology. 5205: research methods, interpretive approaches, and contemporary issues in the history of science; 5206: research methods, interpretive approaches, and contemporary issues in the history of technology. II

Technical essentials, policy analysis, theoretical perspectives of nuclear energy and nuclear nonprofileration. Fundamentals of the nuclear fuel cycle, management of international safeguards, threat of nuclear terrorism, and challenges for global nuclear industry. Pre: Graduate standing.

Problems, literature, and schools in the philosophy of science and technology. 5305: explanation and confirmation; 5306: theory change. I

Problems, literature, and schools in the philosophy of science and technology. 5305: explanation and confirmation; 5306: theory change. II

Examines policy developments and practices that move beyond the conceptual divisions and policy operations begun during the 1970s, which largely divided the more natural science- based environmental sciences from social science-based environmental based studies. Mixes the insights of life science, physical science, social science, applied humanities, and public policy into a cohesive conceptual and operational approach to environmental protection in the 21st century. Graduate standing.

Variable topics in science and technology studies such as role of values in science and technology, risk assessment, and past and present relations of religion to science and technology. May be repeated to a maximum of 6 hours. I

Identification and analysis of ethical issues arising in basic and applied biological, medical, environmental, ecological, and energy studies.

Examines research designs and practices that uncover historical relationships between knowledge contents and social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine. Includes archival research, archaeology of instruments and physical spaces, interviewing for knowledge content, logical and conceptual analysis, participant observation, questionnaires, and proposal preparation.

Strategies for science and technology policy; science education; scientific and technical information for societal uses; government and public policy; resource allocation; economy and global exchanges of science and technology; approaches to policy evaluation.

Variable topics in history of science, technology, and medicine after 1800, such as the atomic age; space science; science, technology, and institutions; scientific and technological medicine; and environmental history. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of 6 credits.

Explores a variety of social factors, past and present, that have affected the way we make, use, and think about computers and the Internet. Begins with the origins of the Internet and the people who shape this technology, from military strategists to hackers. Examines the ways diverse groups interact and build communities online and how cultural norms about race and gender shape the ways we participate in the world of computing. Graduate standing required.

Philosophers of science from 1650 to 1900 with particular attention to the historical development of views about the methods of induction and hypothesis and accounts of theory testing.

Variable topics in advanced philosophy of science, including major theories of scientific explanation and their criticisms; philosophical foundations of statistics; naturalized philosophy of science. May be repeated for credit, with permission and different content, for a maximum of 12 hours.

Variable topics in cultural studies of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health. May include theories of language and science, popular and public knowledges, cultural performances around science and technology, conceptions of health and the body, cultures of quantification, technology and identity, hierarchies and diversity in science and technology, and cross-cultural comparisons. May be repeated with different content up to a maximum of 12 credits.

Social-scientific perspectives in energy policy. National and international topics and controversies such as fossil fuel resources, climate change, energy security, and the debate over nuclear power. Comparison of international perspectives. Challenges involved with management and regulation of large technological systems, the politics of expertise at the intersection of global climate change and energy security, and the changing character of our global energy infrstructure. Pre: Graduate standing.

Conceptual perspectives on social and cultural studies of risk. Qualitative theories and tools for analyzing a wide range of risks in contemporary culture. Definitions of risk as opposed to concepts such as danger, hazard, and uncertainty. Perception of risk and selective bias in risk perception. Efficiency, objectivity, and morality as factors influencing risk assessment and risk management, and affective definitions of safety and reliability. Role of expertise, trust, and communication in risk regulation. Democratic policy instruments to facilitate stable, legitimate decisions about what risks to take or avoid in contemporary societies. Pre: Graduate Standing.

Variable topics in technology studies, including development and structure of knowledge in technology and engineering, social construction of technology, knowledge and power in technology, gender and technology, engineering in society, human/nonhuman relations in technology. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of 6 credits. I,II

Variable topics in science and technology policy. Includes advanced study of science, technology, and economy; science, technology, and power; strategies for research and development policy --public and private sector; transfer of technology; technological forecasting; government regulation and responses; science policy assumptions and challenges, specialist knowledge and expertise; state and academic knowledge production; issues of race, class, gender, and national identity in policy work. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of 6 credits.

Variable topics in alternate perspectives. Includes science from scientists' perspectives, indigenous knowledge forms, alternative medicine, New Age science, cyborg theorizing, heterodox perspectives. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of 6 credits.

Variable topics in social studies of science, technology, and medicine, including studies of disciplines, institutions, boundaries, discourses, knowledges, and practices. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of 6 credits.