Cluster Courses in Science Studies, 2013-14

FALL 2013

Topics in the History of Information and Communication Technology
Jennifer Light W 2-4:50

Course Description: The history of information and communication technology has attracted attention from scholars across a variety of disciplines—communication and media studies, library and information science, history of technology, education, science and technology studies, computer science, sociology, history, business, engineering, geography, political science, architecture and planning, art history….the list goes on! This course, recognizing that no single scholarly tradition has a lock on the study of ICT history, seeks to introduce students to prominent voices across fields. The class centers on several topics that have brought together researchers in multiple disciplines for discussion and debate.

As an introduction to the fields and methods of historical research on information and communication technology, the course requires no previous exposure to the subject. However, students who would like to use the class to continue research on a historical project-in-progress are welcome.

Collective Memory
Gary Fine W 2-4:50

Course Description: This seminar is designed to expose students to the realm of sociological research (and research in other disciplines, notably history) that addresses how we think about and memorialize the past. How is history constructed? How are historical events shaped and made socially meaningful? Who are the shapers and who are the shaped?


Intellectual Issues in Media, Technology, and Society
James Schwoch Date/time TBD

Course Description: TBD

Research Methods on Internet and Society
Eszter Hargittai Date/time TBD

Course Description: The Internet, digital media and new computational tools raise new challenges while also offering new opportunities for ways to study our social world and the social, political, cultural and economic aspects of the Internet in particular. The goal of this seminar is to explore rigorous ways of studying the Internet's societal implications empirically using a myriad of social scientific research methodologies.

HISTORY 492-20
Modern Global History
Daniel Immerwahr and Helen Tilley Tentative Time T 2 -4:50

Course Description: National boundaries often define the parameters of scholarly research and yet so many historical developments transcend such borders and circulate. Whether we examine histories of migration and population growth, resource consumption, colonialism, ideas and scientific innovations, capital flows, epidemics and pandemics, warfare, technologies, or even industrialization and urbanization, it is rare to be able to explain these patterns fully without analyzing their transnational and global dimensions. This seminar is designed to help students explore the methods, underlying assumptions, and central findings of global history, a field that is increasingly central to the ways we understand interconnections and shared experiences in the modern world. We have selected case studies and readings that highlight developments in different parts of the world and also scholars’ diverse research questions and strategies.


Memory Studies: Diasporic Blackness in Space and Time.
Michelle Wright

Course Description: While firmly grounded in the Humanities, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach to the ways in which Black collective identity in the African Diaspora draws upon theories of space and time to produce itself. More specifically, this course will be placing literary and philosophical texts from African Diaspora Studies into conversation with lay discourses on space/time, memory, and identity formation from anthropology, sociology, physics, neuroscience and philosophy to examine and debate the complexity of Blackness as an identity category produced through linear constructs and phenomenological engagements with time and space in the African Diaspora.

Texts may include but not be limited to: The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois, Heremakhonon by Maryse Condé, From Eternity to Here by Sean Carroll, Time Reborn by Lee Smolin, Time and the Other by Johannes Fabian, "The Problem of Time in Sociology" by Werner Bergmann, Each Hour Redeem by Daylanne English, Time by Phillip Turetzky, and "Time and the Brain" by David Eagleman et al. Grading will consist of : weekly class participation, one 20-minute presentation, 7 weekly response papers of 750 words, and one 15-20pp final paper.

Science, Technology and Society
Jennifer Light

Can be taken by graduate students with extra assignments.

The Politics of Knowledge: A Sociological Introduction to Science & Technology Studies
Steven Epstein Date/time TBD

Course Description: This course is motivated by the assumption that questions of knowledge and technology have become central to the political and cultural organization of modern societies. The fundamental goal of the course is to develop tools to understand both the social organization of science and the technoscientific dimensions of social life. Although much of the actual course content concerns science and technology, the theoretical and analytical frameworks developed in this course are intended to apply to any domain involving knowledge, expertise, or technical tools. We will ask: What have been the dominant approaches to the sociological study of science and technology?

How do these various approaches help us understand such topics as the organization of intellectual work, the politics of knowledge production, the design and dissemination of technologies, the standardization of knowledge products, the character of “knowledge societies,” the resolution of conflicts around knowledge and technology, the relations between laypeople and experts, the tensions between expertise and democracy, the measurement and management of technological risk, the technological mediation of identity formation, and the nature of governance in technologically sophisticated societies? Finally, in which ways are present-day studies of science and technology consistent with, and in which ways are they in tension with, other approaches to understanding knowledge, culture, politics, etc., that are employed within sociology today?

Law and Globalization
Grégoire Mallard

Course Description: This course focuses on various socio-historical approaches to law, with a specific focus on the role that law plays in contemporary modes of global governance, e.g. a new transnational set of rules associated with new sources of authority, which go beyond the forms of state authority that are traditionally called upon to interpret and enforce these rules. Topics range from the protection of the rule of law and human rights to the regulation of collapsing financial markets. Periods range from colonial times, to the Cold War and the “new globalization” era. We will survey different disciplinary approaches to the topic, from history, political science, anthropology and sociology. Students will be encouraged to develop an original approach to the topic and to illustrate their approach by researching cases of interest to them.