HASS-D & CI-H Subjects

MIT students: Please also refer to the MIT Subject Listing and Schedule for all class descriptions, times and locations.

STS.001: Technology in American History

Spring 2012 - Professor Merritt Roe Smith

Emphasizes how American social, political, and economic culture and cultural concerns have played a big role in shaping the sort of technology we see around us. What functions have particular technologies played? In a roughly chronological manner, we will look at major technical innovations such as the factory system, interchangeable parts, electrification, the assembly line, computers, and biotechnology, to name a few, examining not only the technical components of each, but also the non-technical concerns of the time, such as labor unrest, market forces, rise of scientific experts, ideology of progress, role of advertising, and artistic expression in relation to technological change.

STS.003: The Rise of Modern Science

This subject introduces the history of modern science from antiquity to the present. Students consider the impacts of philosophy, art, magic, social structure and folk knowledge on the development of what has come to be called "science" in the Western tradition, including those fields today designated as physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and the earth sciences. Topics include life, death, environment, energy, matter and time. Students read original works by Aristotle, Vesalius, Newton, Lavoisier, Maxwell, Darwin and Einstein, among others. Primary documents are supplemented by secondary readings, artifact study and film and visual sources.

STS.005: Disease and Society in America

Spring 2012 - Gregory Dorr

Why do we get sick? Why do some people get sick while others stay healthy? What do people do once they are sick? These might seem like medical questions, but they are actually perfect questions for historians. The distribution of disease, the impact of medical treatments, and societal responses to disease are all crucial phenomena that have changed dramatically over the past 400 years. We will study the changing patterns of disease and medical treatments to see what lessons we can learn that are relevant for contemporary problems in disease and health policy.

STS.006J: Bioethics

This course does not seek to provide answers to ethical questions. Instead, the course hopes to teach students two things. First, how do you recognize ethical or moral problems in science and medicine? When something does not feel right (whether cloning, or failing to clone) - - what exactly is the nature of the discomfort? What kind of tensions and conflicts exist within biomedicine? Second, how can you think productively about ethical and moral problems? What processes create them? Why do people disagree about them? How can an understanding of philosophy or history help resolve them? By the end of the course students will hopefully have sophisticated and nuanced ideas about problems in bioethics, even if they do not have comfortable answers.

STS.007: Technology in History (formerly STS.022)
Fall 2010 - Professors Clapperton Mavhunga and Rosalind Williams

Covers theories of the interactions between historical and technological change; relations between the histories of science and of technology; purported turning points such as the Neolithic, Industrial, and Information Revolutions; case studies from a wide range of times and places; and connections across time and space. Lectures supplemented by student presentations. Frequent writing, rewriting, and small group work.

STS.008: Technology and Experience (formerly STS.045)
Fall 2011 - Professor Hanna Rose Shell

Introduction to the "inner history" of technology: how it affects intimate aspects of human experience from sociological, psychological and anthropological perspectives. Topics include how the internet transforms our experience of time, space, privacy, and social engagement; how entertainment media affects attention, emotion, and creativity; how medical technologies alter the experience of illness, reproduction, and mortality; how pharmaceuticals reshape identity, mood, pain, and pleasure. In-class discussion of readings, short written assignments, final project.

STS.009: Evolution and Society
Spring 2012 - Professor John Durant

Provides a broad conceptual and historical introduction to scientific theories of evolution and their place in the wider culture. Embraces historical, scientific and anthropological/cultural perspectives grounded in relevant developments in the biological sciences since 1800 that are largely responsible for the development of the modern theory of evolution by natural selection. Students read key texts, analyze key debates (e.g. Darwinian debates in the 19th century, and the creation controversies in the 20th century) and give class presentations.

STS.010: Neuroscience and Society

In recent decades, research in the field of neuroscience has spilled into the national media on a daily basis, suggesting new interventions and applications in social domains such as law, education, and economics, and challenging us to redefine our understandings of responsibility, choice, and what it is to be human. In this class we will think critically about the relationship between neuroscience and society. As a HASS-D/CI-H course, emphasis is placed on oral and written communication. Active participation in a weekly recitation section is expected, and students will complete four written assignments (including a rewrite of the first paper).

STS.011: Ethics and Politics in Science and Technology

(formerly "American Science: Ethical Conflicts and Political Choices")

HASS-D/2, CI-H [HASS-H] (NEW: CI-H attribute!)
Fall 2011 - Professor Vincent Lepinay

Focuses on controversial scientific episodes with emphasis on the social dimensions at play. Using case studies, class shows how debates take place in the context of a wide range of factors influencing scientists' opinions and decisions. Topics include debates about the scientific method, environmental controversies, biomedical research, genetic engineering, (mis)use of human subjects, scientific misconduct, and whistleblowing. Students work in small groups. For their final projects, groups are encouraged to pick one such controversy and document it.

STS.032: Energy, Environment, and Society

Examines national and global energy debates, namely energy security, climate change, and energy access. Explores technological, market, environmental, cultural and political "fixes" to the energy question, as well as a wide variety of energy forms and stakeholders. Evaluates development, nuclear security, environment ethics, and conflicts between energy and food security. Includes debates, presentations, group projects (in class and in the Cambridge community), grant-writing, and individual written assignments.

STS.034: Science Communication: A Practical Guide
Fall 2011
- Professor John Durant

Develops students' abilities to communicate science effectively in a variety of real-world contexts. Covers strategies for dealing with complex areas like theoretical physics, genomics and neuroscience, and addresses challenges in communicating about topics such as climate change and evolution. Projects focus on speaking and writing, being an expert witness, preparing briefings for policy-makers, writing blogs, and giving live interviews for broadcast, as well as the creation of an interactive exhibit for display in the MIT Museum.

STS.042J: Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century
CI-M for Physics Majors [HASS-H]

Explores the changing roles of physics and physicists during the 20th century. Topics range from relativity theory and quantum mechanics to high-energy physics and cosmology. Examines the development of modern physics within shifting institutional, cultural, and political contexts, such as physics in Imperial Britain, Nazi Germany, US efforts during World War II, and physicists' roles during the Cold War. Enrollment limited.

STS.070J: Language and Technology (NEW)
Fall 2011 - Professor Graham Jones

Examines the role of science and medicine in the origins and evolution of the concepts of race, sex, and gender from the seventeenth century to the present. Focus on how biological, anthropological, and medical concepts intersect with social, cultural, and political ideas about racial, sexual, and gender difference in the U.S. and globally. Approach is historical and comparative across disciplines emphasizing the different modes of explanation and use of evidence in each field.

STS.082J: Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Analysis of issues at the intersection of science, technology, public policy, and business. Cases drawn from antitrust and intellectual property rights; health and environmental policy; defense procurement and strategy; strategic trade and industrial policy; and R&D funding. Structured around theories of political economy, modified to take account of integration of uncertain technical information into public and private decision-making. Enrollment limited to 18.

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