What is the relationship of the production of scientific knowledge to Black life in the Americas? What can thinking that arises out of the intellectual traditions of Black Studies contribute to our understandings of the many genres of science and their relationship to justice?
This course considers the ways that canonical sciences have constrained, categorized, and delimited Black lives by exploring such themes as: technoscientific constructions of race difference, epigenetic theories about the heritability of trauma, histories of biomedical experimentation, and the long history of eugenicist thinking.
We also explore scientific scripts emergent from " below" that have and continue to be sources of emancipatory promise.
Recipient:Hilary Callahan (Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Biology; Barnard College)
Course Type: Lecture offered Spring 2018 and Spring 2019
This course addresses questions about plant biodiversity and biogeography. Why are plant ecosystems so diverse? Will species and ecosystems stay put in the future? Or will climate, soils and human impacts result in range changes?
Students will learn data-driven methods in biodiversity and biogeography in a course that blends lectures and seminar discussions with labs and digital projects that use resources in Barnard’s Ross Greenhouse or at the New York Botanical Garden. Students will attain fluency and expertise in classical and cutting-edge botanical science.
The course will encourage interdisciplinary perspectives, pushing students outside of their intellectual comfort zones and aiming to comprehend plant biodiversity more fully. We will learn why botany has been and will continue to be essential to 21st-century biologists.
Scientific illustration has been a key part of archaeological work since the discipline’s origins in the 16th to 17th centuries. The course traced this history and explore current practice by learning different forms of line work, pen and ink and color wash, alongside undertaking reading from science studies, archaeology and art history.
The class provided a laboratory for exploring how science constructs its subject, for thinking about the wider ramifications of archaeological representation, and for exploring the ongoing resonance of archaeology for artists and others.
Students gained knowledge of illustrative techniques and develop a practical understanding of the history and practice of scientific illustration.
Recipient: Debashree Mukherjee (Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies)
Course Type: Lecture offered Fall 2017
This course introduced students to itineraries of scientific and technological imaginaries in modern South Asia, especially as they intersect with mass media forms.
In the first half of the semester, students explored how ideas of science and technology are imbricated with colonial and postcolonial ideologies and agendas. In the second half, students considered key moments in narratives of media-technological emergence in India.
Sessions interrogated historiographic concepts such as ‘newness’ and ‘rupture’, while considering the socio-political desires unleashed by successive ‘new’ media. Students were introduced to key concepts in science and technology studies, as well as media theory.
Recipient: Carmel Raz (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows and Lecturer in Music)
Course Type: Seminar offered in Spring 2018
This undergraduate seminar offered historical and critical perspectives on music as a cause, symptom, and treatment of madness. It began by analyzing the stakes of studying the history of music and madness in light of methodologies from history, ethnography, and disability studies.
Students applied these frameworks in exploring histories of music and madness, and recent ethnographies of the role of music in conjunction with altered mental states.
The course fostered interdisciplinary engagement between students interested in music, history, and medicine, and provided them with critical tools to examine constructions of music and madness in social, scientific, and historical contexts.
Recipient: Samuel Roberts (Associate Professor of History and of Sociomedical Sciences)
Course Type: Seminar offered in Fall 2016.
This course had two institutional partners: the Drug Policy Alliance and the Columbia Center for Oral History. Students explored one of the most politically controversial aspects in the history of public health in the United States as it has affected peoples of color: intoxicating substances.
The course’s temporal focus – the twentieth century – allowed an exploration of the historical political and social configurations of opium, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, medical maintenance (methadone), the War on Drugs, the carceral state and hyper-policing, harm reduction and needle/syringe exchange.
The class traced the evolution of harm reduction in the United States through site visits, guest lectures, and oral history research and analysis.