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: 2018 Spring Undergraduate

Archive for 2018 Spring Undergraduate

BC3131: Women and Science | L. Kay

Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Undergraduate Seminar
Tu 4:10-6PM

History and politics of women’s involvement with science. Women’s contributions to scientific discovery in various fields, accounts by women scientists, engineers, and physicians, issues of science education. Feminist critiques of biological research and of the institution of science.

Vergil course page

GR6038: Place, Space, Nature | P. West

Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
M 2:10-4PM

This class examines the social production of space, place, and nature. Three discursive and material fields that must be understood if we are to practice a conceptually rigorous and politically engaged contemporary anthropology. In the course, we will examine how these fields have recently been studied, described, conceptualized, and theorized. We will explore these ideas through the reading of works by anthropologists, historians, and geographers, looking at how the changing nature of places affects both the discipline of anthropology and the ways in which anthropologists conduct research in places.
Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission.

Vergil course page

GU4043: Workshop on Wealth and Inequality | T. Diprete, S. Spilerman

Center for the Study of Wealth and Inequality at the Institute for Social and Economic Research Policy (ISERP) in partnership with the Department of Sociology
Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Workshop
Th 2-4PM

The Center for the Study of Wealth and Inequality (CWI) Seminar Series is sponsored by the Institute for Social and Economic Research Policy (ISERP) and is devoted to the investigation of social and economic inequality.  The Seminar invites speakers from both within and outside of Columbia to present recent papers covering a wide range of topics pertaining to inequality, such as poverty, labor market behavior, education, and the family.  The research topics and methodologies are at the cutting edge of the interdisciplinary study of wealth and inequality, as the CWI Seminar invites speakers from multiple social science disciplines and fields.

The Center for Wealth and Inequality (CWI) Student Workshop is a forum for students interested in social science topics broadly related to inequality.  In particular, it will provide an opportunity for students to read and discuss the works presented in the weekly CWI Seminar Series, while also sharing and refining their own works in progress.

The Student Workshop will provide a context for deeper engagement with the work presented each week at the CWI Seminar and with works-in-progress authored by workshop members.  CWI Seminars are held each Thursday throughout the academic year at 2pm in 509 Knox Hall.  Student Workshops will be held directly after the CWI Seminar.  Professors Tom DiPrete and Sy Spilerman will serve as the faculty advisors.

Prerequisites: This is meant for graduate students, however, if you are an advanced undergraduate student you can email the professor for permission to enroll.

Link to Vergil

BC2851: The Global Power of Botany | H. Callahan

Biological Sciences
Undergraduate Lecture
Tu 10:10-11:25AM
Th 10:10AM-12:55PM

Sustaining complex human systems requires plants, which in turn depend on soils, geology, and climate. With that reality in the foreground, this course will foster fluency and expertise in classical and cutting edge botanical science: genetics, genomics, biogeography, conservation biology, economic and ethno-botany. At the center of its investigations will be the ongoing digital revolution, recognizing that natural history has been and will continue to be essential to all of the plant sciences. The course will encourage interdisciplinary perspectives, pushing students outside of their intellectual comfort zones and aiming to comprehend plant biodiversity from a multiplicity of human perspectives.

Link to Vergil

UN3042: Youth in an Interconnected World | L. Neitzel

Committee on Global Thought
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
W 10:10AM-12PM

What does it mean to be 20 years old in our rapidly changing, interconnected world? There are more youth (aged 15-25) in the world today than at any other time in history, with the majority living in the developing world. They approach adulthood as the world confronts seismic shifts in the geopolitical order, in the nature and future of work, and in the ways we connect with each other, express identity, engage politically, and create communities of meaning. What unique challenges and opportunities confront young people after decades of neoliberal globalization? What issues are most pressing in developing nations experiencing a “youth bulge” and how do they compare to developed nations with rapidly aging populations? How do young people envision their futures and the future of the world they are inheriting? This course will examine recent scholarship while engaging the young people in the class to define the agenda and questions of the course and to conduct their own research.

“Global 20” complements a new research project of the Committee on Global Thought, “Youth in a Changing World,” which investigates from the perspective of diverse participants and of young people themselves, the most pressing issues confronting young people in the changing world today. The course will serve as an undergraduate “lab” for the project, and among other involvements, students in the course will help conceive, plan, and take part in a NYC-wide “Youth Think-In” sponsored by the CGT during the Spring 2018 semester. Within the course, students will become “regional experts” and examine the primary themes of the class through the prism of specific areas or nations of their choosing. A final class project includes a “design session” that will consider how universities might better train and empower youth to confront the challenges and embrace the opportunities of our interconnected world of the 21st century.

Link to Vergil

GU4811: Encounters with Nature | K. Sivaramakrishnan

Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
Tu 2:10-4PM

This course offers an understanding of the interdisciplinary field of environmental, health and population history and will discuss historical and policy debates with a cross-cutting, comparative relevance: such as the making and subjugation of colonized peoples and natural and disease landscapes under British colonial rule; modernizing states and their interest in development and knowledge and technology building, the movement and migration of populations, and changing place of public health and healing in south Asia. The key aim of the course will be to introduce students to reading and analyzing a range of historical scholarship, and interdisciplinary research on environment, health, medicine and populations in South Asia and to introduce them to an exploration of primary sources for research; and also to probe the challenges posed by archives and sources in these fields. Some of the overarching questions that shape this course are as follows: How have environmental pasts and medical histories been interpreted, debated and what is their contemporary resonance? What have been the encounters (political, intellectual, legal, social and cultural) between the environment, its changing landscapes, and state? How have citizens, indigenous communities, and vernacular healers mediated and shaped these encounters and inserted their claims for sustainability, subsistence or survival? How have these changing landscapes shaped norms about bodies, care, and beliefs? The course focuses on South Asia but also urges students to think and make linkages beyond regional geographies in examining interconnected ideas and practices in histories of the environment, medicine, and health. Topics will therefore include (and students are invited to add to these perspectives and suggest additional discussion themes): colonial and globalized circuits of medical knowledge, with comparative case studies from Africa and East Asia; and the travel and translation of environmental ideas and of medical practices through growing global networks.

Link to Vergil

UN3464: Urban Ecologies & Grand Infrastructure | S. Yildiz

Urban Studies
Undergraduate Lecture
MW 1:10-2:25PM

This lecture course is designed around different issues of metropolitan regions around the worlds that govern and plan urbanized, risky and vulnerable ecological systems and consequently large-scale urban interventions that change the landscapes of the regions. The reality of an age of drastic climate change and increasing number of natural disasters in urbanized regions raises issues of resilience and ecological governance. Metropolitan regions and the planning politics that lie beneath the regional plans and strategic initiatives are critical in the mitigation of some of these risks and in the understanding of regional politics. Historical and contemporary case studies will prepare the students to conduct their own critical analysis and reading of a case where several themes discussed in class will be further explored.

Link to Vergil

GU4050: U.S. Water & Energy Policy | P. Gallay

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate and Graduate Seminar
M 6:10-8PM

Water, one of humankind’s first power sources, remains critically important to the task of maintaining a sustainable energy supply, in the United States and elsewhere. Conversely, the need to provide safe drinking water and keep America’s rivers clean cannot be met without access to reliable energy supplies. As the impact of climate disruption and other resource constraints begins to mount, the water/energy nexus is growing increasingly complex and conflict-prone.

By semester’s end, students will better understand the state of America’s energy and water supply systems and current efforts to cope with depletion, climate change and related threats affecting these critical, highly-interdependent systems. As a final project, students will utilize the knowledge gained during the semester to create specific proposals for preserving and enhancing the sustainability of US water and energy resources.

Link to Vergil

UN3410: Urbanization & Sustainability | E. Sclar

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate and Graduate Lecture
M 2:10-4PM

The first decade of the 21st century marked the first time in human history when more of world’s population lived in urban as distinct from rural places. It is impossible to achieve sustainable development in a physical, social or economic manner absent an understanding of the powerful and interdependent relationship between these concepts of sustainability and urbanization. This course explores this vital nexus. Students will gain a more detailed understanding of the ways in which urban life provides opportunities and challenges for addressing climate change, access to water and energy efficiency, among other topics. The intention is to provide students majoring in Sustainable Development with a historic and contemporary understanding of the connections between the process of urbanization that now dominates the world and the range of ways in which that process, directly and indirectly, shapes the challenge of sustainable development.

Registration permission:

Link to Vergil

UN3450: Spatial Analysis for Sustainable Development | G. Graziosi

Sustainable Development
Undergraduate Lecture
Tu 4:10-5:25PM
Th 4:10-7:25PM

This is an intermediate course in spatial modeling developed specifically for students in the undergraduate Sustainable Development program. This course will provide a foundation for understanding a variety of issues related to spatial analysis and modeling. Students will explore the concepts, tools, and techniques of GIS modeling and review and critique modeling applications used for environmental planning and policy development. The course will also offer students the opportunity to design, build and evaluate their own spatial analysis models. The course will cover both vector and raster based methods of analysis with a strong focus on raster-based modeling. Participants will also learn how to develop and publish online maps, spatial applications, metadata, and mobile Apps in a geodatabase environment to support fieldwork research and geospatial data gathering and analysis. Course registration includes online mapping user license and credits to store, analyze, and serve geospatial data and apps. We will draw examples from a wide range of applications in such areas as modeling Land Use and Land Cover for biodiversity and conservation, hydrological modeling, and site suitability modeling. The course will consist of lectures, reading assignments, lab assignments, and a final project. Students must register for required lab: SDEV W3452.

Link to Vergil

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