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 Undergraduate

Archive for 2017 Fall Undergraduate

GR6410: Art, History, and Neuroscience: The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproducibility | D. Freedberg

Art History
Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Lecture
Tu 4:00-6:00PM

This course will assess the potential of the cognitive neurosciences to illuminate critical problems in the humanities and the history of art and images. Until very recently, such an integrative approach was viewed with deep skepticism. Even now, the epistemological divide remains an obstacle, on the grounds that the reductionism of sciences militates against the contextual sensitivity regarded as central to the humanities. The course will focus on emotional and embodied responses to images. It will consider the implications for the concept of art in our digital environments, and for understanding the effects of images – from empathy to propaganda, from aura to indifference, from absorption to habituation, and from engagement to detachment.

Link to Vergil

UN3401: Inquiries into an Interconnected World | L. Neitzel

Committee For Global Thought
Undergraduate Seminar
W 10:10AM-12:00PM

This course on global thought will consider the ways in which we think about, debate, and give meaning to the interconnected world in which we live. In thematically focused collaborative teams, students will examine how the flows of people, things and ideas across national borders both connect our world and create uneven consequences within and among communities. We will locate ourselves in these processes, suggesting we need go no further than our closets, tables, and street corners to consider the meanings of globalization and our roles in the world today.

Link to Vergil

UN3350: Environmental Policy and Sustainable Governance | L. Dale

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate Lecture
MW 2:40-3:55PM

Environmental Policy & Sustainable Governance will focus specifically on the policy elements of sustainability. With an emphasis on the American political system, the course will begin by exploring the way American bureaucracy addresses environmental challenges.

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

UN3796: Global Health in Africa | S. Runcie

History
Undergraduate Seminar
W 2:10-4PM

This course will examine changing ideas of health and disease in Africa as a subject of transnational concern, debate, and cause for action in the 20th century. We will study how global health campaigns and institutions translated in specific African contexts and simultaneously how experiences of disease and medicine in African contexts shaped global concerns. This course will take both a chronological and thematic approach, providing students with an overview of changing social, political and economic conditions that have impacted understandings of disease burden and health interventions in Africa over time. Topics of study will include colonial medical campaigns, disease eradication programs, international medical research, and postcolonial health systems. We will use specific regional and national examples, while also connecting these examples to broader developments in African history. At the same time, students in this course will interrogate how ‘Africa’ has functioned as a category within global health. The final weeks of the course will consider contemporary health issues in Africa and ask how historical perspectives can inform our analysis.

Link to Vergil

UN3044: From Colonial to Global Health | J. Abi-Rached

History
Undergraduate Seminar
Tu 12:10-2PM

Two decades or so after decolonization post-World War II, a small but growing group of historians of medicine directed their attention to disease and health care in colonial settings. The undergraduate seminar examines this literature as well as readings from a range of disciplines—history, anthropology, medicine, and public health—to make sense of the ways in which indigenous populations interacted with colonial medical practices and various medical actors (hygienists, military personnel, missionaries, medical doctors, etc.) and how in turn these biocolonial and bioimperial projects were deployed, to what end, and with what consequences. The seminar explores issues related to race, religion, modernity, subjectivity, imperial ambitions, and agency (local and foreign) through the lens of public health policies, epidemics, psychiatry, medical schools, diseases, and hospitals. The seminar finally examines two emerging and intertwined literatures: (i) the colonial genealogy of the “global heath” paradigm, and (ii) the post-colonial histories of diseases, health care infrastructures, behaviors, and practices as they now play out in post-colonial settings.

Link to Vergil

UN1100: Food, Public Heath, and Public Policy | A. Paxton

Food Studies-Public Health
Undergraduate Lecture
MW 1:10-2:25PM

The course will provide an introduction to the science, policy, politics, and economics related to food as a critical element of public health. The course will have a primary focus on the US, but will include a global perspective. Students will learn and apply the fundamentals of public health scientific research methods and theoretical approaches to assessing the food landscape though a public health lens. In addition, the course will cover how nutrition – at first glance a matter of individual choice – is determined by an interconnected system of socio-economic-environmental influences, and is influenced by a multitude of stakeholders engaged in policymaking processes. The course will be structured into four “themes”: 1) Why food is a public health priority, 2) Evidence, causal inference and measurement and its role in understanding and designing public health research on food, 3) The food environment, and 4) Change agents and levers: individuals, policy, and politics in food and public health. The course will use a systems thinking approach and systems thinking tools to examine and understand the interconnectedness of the social, economic, environmental, political and economic influences and consequences that affect food and public health. This course partially fulfills the Science Requirement as a science course for non-science majors.

Link to Vergil

BC3300: Workshop in Sustainable Development | M. Stute

Earth and Environmental Sciences
Undergraduate Workshop
Th 10:10AM-12PM

Students address real-world issues in sustainable development by working in groups for an external client agency. Instruction in communication, collaboration, and management; meetings with and presentations to clients and academic community. Projects vary from year to year. Readings in the course are project-specific and are identified by the student research teams.

Link to Vergil


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