Columbia
Courses in Science and Society at Columbia University

Columbia and Barnard have a constellation of faculty members located in a variety of departments and institutes whose research and interests lie at the intersection of science and the humanities. Among many specializations, include the historical development of scientific knowledge and in the processes—technical, social, political, intellectual, material and cultural—by which knowledge has been acquired, disseminated, and employed.

List of Courses: 2017 Fall Graduate

Archive for 2017 Fall Graduate

U6006: Computing in Context | G. Falco and A. Cannon

International and Public Affairs
Graduate Lecture
TuTh 2:40-3:55PM
F 2:10-3PM

This introductory course will explore computing concepts and coding in the context of solving policy problems. Such problems might include troubleshooting sources of environmental pollution, evaluating the effectiveness of public housing policy or determining the impact that local financial markets have on international healthcare or education. Using policy scenarios as examples, students will be exposed to topics including: requirements gathering, data collection, data cleansing, writing pseudocode and code, using Python packages to help solve policy problems, presenting technical solutions and the constraints of computing. The hands-on nature of the class will help students to develop a strong, transferable skill-set that could be applied to both current coursework and future employment. Between the computer science and policy context lectures, students will see how computer science will become a fundamental component of their policy analysis education.

Link to Vergil

 

UN3330: Ecological and Social Systems for Sustainable Development | R. Defries

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate and Graduate Lecture
MW 6:10-7:25PM

The course provides an overview of the complex relationships between ecological and social systems. The course focuses on basic principles in understanding these relationships. After the students are introduced to these basic concepts, the course will focus on three current topics central to Sustainable Development for in-depth study. The emphasis is on the multiple perspectives – environmental, social and economic – required to understand and develop solutions to problems in sustainable development. The three topics are: conservation of biodiversity, payments for ecosystem services, and the ecology of food production. We expect these topics to vary from year to year to keep pace with current topics. The following areas will be covered.: -What is an ecosystem? How are social and ecological systems linked through the flow of energy and materials? -What are the characteristics of coupled human-natural systems? How do these systems function? -What are the current topics in sustainable development that require understanding of social and ecological systems? -For each topic (protection of biodiversity, ecosystem services, ecology of food production), what are the environmental, economic, and social perspectives important for sustainable solutions? How can critical thinking be applied to balance these perspectives to derive sustainable solution? -Data analysis and approaches to analyze ecosystems and options for sustainable development.

Prerequisites: SDEV W2300 Challenges of Sustainable Development; EESC W2330 Science for Sustainable Development.

Link to Vergil

GU4513: Buddhism and Neuroscience | B. Faure

Religion
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
Th 2:10-4PM

With the Dalai Lama’s marked interest in recent advances in neuroscience, the question of the compatibility between Buddhist psychology and neuroscience has been raised in a number of conferences and studies. This course will examine the state of the question, look at claims made on both sides, and discuss whether or not there is a convergence between Buddhist discourse about the mind and scientific discourse about the brain.

Link to Vergil

GR8948: Scientific Pluralism in Practice | S. Firestein and A. Barwich

History
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
W 6:10-8PM

The course centers on ideas associated with Pluralism as applied to scientific practice. Pluralism itself has had a long tradition in the historical and political study of the individual and society, and it was championed, for example, by Isaiah Berlin in the 20th century. However, pluralism has only rarely been applied to science studies. More recently several philosophers of science have begun exploring the role for pluralism in scientific practice . We examine the historical development of science towards an increasingly monistic practice and consider the philosophical and practical promises as well as challenges of driving science in a more pluralistic direction.This course will discuss the benefits and limits of such a pluralistic idea of science and how it translates into practice. The course is run as a seminar in historical and philosophical studies of science for students of the sciences (particularly but not limited to biology and neuroscience) as well as the humanities. We will look at examples from neuroscience, general biology, physics, and other areas from the history of science (e.g., chemistry and medicine).

There are no prerequisites.

Link to Vergil

E6998-9: Cybersecurity -Technology, Policy and Law | S. Bellovin

Computer Science
Undergraduate and Graduate Lecture
Tu 4:10-6PM

This course will bring together professors and select students from three schools to discuss how different disciplines solve cybersecurity issues. Classes will cover the technical underpinnings of the Internet and computer security; the novel legal aspects from technology, crime and national security; and the various policy problems and solutions involved in this new field. Class discussion will range freely between the technologies and implications of cyber security, crime, and conflict.

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission. Selected topics in computer science. Content varies from year to year. May be repeated for credit.

Link to Vergil

GU4615: The Psychology of Culture and Diversity | V. Purdie-Vaughns

Psychology
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
Tu 2:10-4:00PM

The instructor’s permission is required; some basic knowledge of social psychology is desirable. A comprehensive examination of how culture and diversity shape psychological processes. The class will explore psychological and political underpinnings of culture and diversity, emphasizing social psychological approaches. Topics include culture and self, culture and social cognition, group and identity formation, science of diversity, stereotyping, prejudice, and gender. Applications to real-world phenomena discussed.

Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission; some basic knowledge of social psychology is desirable.

Link to Vergil

GU4645: Culture, Motivation and Prosocial Behavior | S. Komissarouk

Psychology
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
W 2:10-4:00PM

Reviews and integrates current research on three important topics of social psychology: culture, motivation, and prosocial behavior. Discussions and readings will cover theoretical principles, methodological approaches, and the intersection of these three topics. Students will write a personal research proposal based on the theories presented during the seminar.

Prerequisites: Some knowledge of Research Methods, Statistics, and Social Psychology, plus Instructor’s Permission.

Link to Vergil

U6236: History of American Ecology & Environmentalism | S. Tjossem

International Affairs
Graduate Lecture
Tu 9:00-10:50AM

Ecology is a common but ambiguous term that has been used to address social, political and environmental problems. This lecture/discussion explores the history of ecology as a developing academic discipline and as a tool for social reform. We will explore various conceptions of nature and ecology in changing ideas of conservation, preservation, the Dust Bowl, the atomic age, growing environmentalism, and the current focus on biodiversity as one route to a sustainable society. We will look at how scientific information has been constructed and used in environmental debates over pollution and overpopulation and will question the utility of distinguishing between “first nature” (untouched by humans) and “second nature” (nature modified by humans). Along the way, we will address connections between environmentalism and nationalism, the relationship between environmental change and social inequality, the rise of modern environmental politics, and different visions for the future of nature.

Link to Vergil

GR8906: Craft and Science in the Early Modern World | P. Smith

History
Graduate Seminar open to advanced undergraduates
M 10:10AM to 2PM with required lab times through the semester

This course studies the materials, techniques, settings, and meanings of skilled craft and artistic practices in the early modern period (1350-1750), in order to reflect upon a series of issues, including craft knowledge and artisanal epistemology; the intersections between craft and science; and questions of historical methodology and evidence in the reconstruction of historical experience. The course will be run as a “Laboratory Seminar,” with discussions of primary and secondary materials, as well as text-based research and hands-on work in a laboratory. This course is one component of the Making and Knowing Project of the Center for Science and Society. This course contributes to the collective production of a transcription, English translation, and critical edition of a late sixteenth-century manuscript in French, Ms. Fr. 640. In 2014-15, the course concentrated on mold-making and metalworking. In 2015-16, it focused on color-making, including pigments, varnishes, cold enamels, dyes, imitation gems, and other color processes, and in 2016-17 on vernacular natural history and practical optics. Students are encouraged to take this course for both semesters (or more), but will receive full credit only once. Different laboratory work and readings will be carried out each semester. This course will also be open to a small number of select undergraduates, with instructor’s permission and an add/drop form.

Link to Vergil

GU4635: Science Fiction Poetics | M. Golston

English
Undergraduate and Graduate Lecture
MW 6:10-7:25PM

“A book of philosophy should in part be a kind of science fiction. How else can one write but of those things which one doesn’t know, or knows badly? It is precisely there that we imagine having something to say. We write only at the frontiers of our knowledge, at the border which separates our knowledge from our ignorance and transforms the one into the other.” — Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition.

Link to Vergil

 


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