In Science We Trust?
Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Anthropology
This course offers an introduction to Science & Technology Studies (STS), especially the anthropology of science. There are few aspects of our late modern lives that are not shaped by scientific knowledge: from the foods we buy in the supermarket to the vaccines that protect us against viruses and from the electric cars that are meant to stop global warming to the psychoactive drugs that change our minds. And yet trust in science has been challenged time and again in changing political contexts. STS evolved from history and philosophy of science in the 1980s to examine the social construction of scientific facts. It sought to counter technocratic government by democratizing the making of scientific knowledge. The course traces the rocky road this project has taken since. It examines the Science Wars of the 1990s, which pitted scientists against science studies scholars, and the latter’s subsequent awakening to the inconvenient fact that social constructionism had been adopted by climate skeptics to undermine science-based regulations of the fossil fuel industry. In the 2000s, important parts of STS adopted more affirmative attitudes toward scientific knowledge in newly emergent fields such as multispecies ethnography and environmental anthropology, which build on scientific facts instead of critically scrutinizing their origins. Other STS scholars have responded to the post-truth debate of the 2010s by posing anew the question of how to demarcate science from nonscience—a 180º reversal of the original project of STS to tear down the elitist citadels of science. The course invites students to think about how they relate to science in their own conduct of life and what role it plays and should play in contemporary politics.
College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)
Department: Anthropology (ANT)
Campus: New York City (GV)
Course Format: Seminar (R)
Max Enrollment: 18
Add/Drop Deadline: February 4, 2024 (Sunday)
Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2024 (Tuesday)
Seats Available: Yes
* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 7:02am EST 2/28/2024