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: Past Courses

Archive for Past Courses – Page 2

EESC BC3032: Agricultural and Urban Land Use: Human-Environment Interactions | C. Rosenzweig

Prerequisites: One year of college science or permission of instructor. Alternate years. Human transformation of the terrestrial environment since Paleolithic times. Physical process involved in human-environment interactions. Guidelines for sustainable development using present and past examples of environmental use and abuse.

ECON W4625: Economics of the Environment | S. Avila

Prerequisites:ECON W3211 andW3213. Microeconomics is used to study who has an incentive to protect the environment. Government’s possible and actual role in protecting the environment is explored. How do technological change, economic development, and free trade affect the environment? Emphasis on hypothesis testing and quantitative analysis of real-world policy issues.

CSER W3445: City, Environment and Vulnerability | C. Fennell

How are urbanites situated in place? What can that particular situation tell us about how urbanites will live, thrive and waste in those places? How do social divides like race and class render the situations of some more or less vulnerable to environmental harm or the physical constraints of place? This seminar takes up those questions through the lens of the urban built environment and the relations it establishes between urbanites, the things of their city and their material dimensions. We start with readings that challenge us to conceptualize the urban environment as an assemblage of bodies and things that impinge upon each other in consequential ways. We then move to several historical and ethnographic cases that foreground the stakes of these impingements in cities. Cases examined include urban waste systems, disasters, noise hazards, and mobility constraints. Throughout, our readings, conversations and excursions will consider what attention to the urban built environment can bring to studies of social inequality and urban social movements.

RELI W4815: Technology, Religion, Future | D. Kittay

This seminar will examine the history of the impact of technology and media on religion and vice versa before bringing into focus the main event: religion today and in the future. We’ll read the classics as well as review current writing, video and other media, bringing thinkers such as Eliade, McLuhan, Mumford and Weber into dialogue with the current writing of Kurzweil, Lanier and Taylor, and look at, among other things: ethics in a Virtual World; the relationship between Burning Man, a potential new religion, and technology; the relevance of God and The Rapture in Kurzweil’s Singularity; and what will become of karma when carbon-based persons merge with silicon-based entities and other advanced technologies.

RELI V3705: Literature, Technology, Religion | M. Taylor

Digital media and electronic technologies are expanding the imagination, transforming humanity, and redefining subjectivity. The proliferation of distributed and embedded technologies is changing the way we live, think, write and create. This course will explore the complex interrelation of literature, technology and religion through an investigation of four American novels and four French critics/theorists.

UN3551: Philosophy of Science | D. Albert

Undergraduate Lecture
TuTh 10:10-11:25AM

Philosophical problems within science and about the nature of scientific knowledge in the 17th-20th centuries. Sample problems: causation and scientific explanation; induction and real kinds; verification and falsification; models, analogies and simulations; the historical origins of the modern sciences; scientific revolutions; reductionism and supervenience; differences between physics, biology and the social sciences; the nature of life; cultural evolution; human nature; philosophical issues in cosmology.

Prerequisites: one philosophy course or the instructor’s permission.

Link to Vergil

ANTH V3876: Chinese Science and Medicine in East Asia and Beyond | J. Chen

4 pts. Enrollment limit is 18 This course examines the history and human impact of Chinese science and medicine in broad East Asian and transnational contexts. Using a socio-cultural approach, we will examine social, cultural, and political milieus within which various forms of science and medicine were practiced and understood across Chinese history and beyond the stereotypical “Chinese” boundary.

SOSC P9740: Privacy, Public Health, and the Surveillance State: History and Policy | A. Fairchild

What can history contribute to public health policy? Is history a luxury or a necessity? What are the different ways in which we leverage history in the policy arena? What are its different uses? How do we move from history to policy? How does it differ from ethics or law? These are the overarching questions that are woven throughout this course, indeed, the history and ethics program as a whole. We will tackle them through the particular history of disease surveillance the radar of public health that provides the basis for both State understanding and action and privacy which has become a core civil right deemed central to both autonomy and personhood. Against this historical backdrop we will explore three contemporary case studies at the intersection of surveillance and privacy. Here we will build on the historical foundation we have laid by analyzing and addressing those policy challenges. For these sessions, students will write thorough policy memos drawing on specific readings for those cases and readings from prior sessions. Guidelines for memo writing and sample memos are available via Courseworks (note that your memos may be one page longer than the examples provided).

G8405: Science, Knowledge, and Technology | D. Vaughan

Graduate Seminar
M 2:10-4PM

How do scientific and technical experts do their work and produce the results that they do? The purpose of this course is to read and critically evaluate the canonical works in the sociology of science, knowledge, and technology and to initiate a research project. The research paper for this course can be tailored to meet the student’s long term research or professional interests. The readings are organized chronologically to introduce major works and their authors, present an overview of the development of the field, the diversity of perspectives, turning points, and controversies.

Link to Vergil

SOCI G6043x: Political Sociology of Science and Medicine

3 pts. This course explores twin phenomena: 1) the socio-cultural organization of the institutions of science and medicine and 2) the ways in which the biosciences and biomedicine have come to organize the social world. The understanding that science and its medical applications are central to contemporary societies-and indeed are transforming our social landscapes-will underlie our exploration. Themes discussed included medical inequality; biological citizenship; health social movements; race and health; scientific epistemology; genetics and genomics; and the “politics of life itself.


@The Center of Science and Society at Columbia University 2016
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