History of Science and Technology since 1750 (HIST H374/546)
This course examines the history of science and technology since 1750. Students will learn about major transformations in biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, engineering, and more. Topics include Darwinism, genetics, relativity, quantum theory, nanotechnology, and computers. This course will pay particular attention to philosophies of knowledge, the sociopolitical contexts of science, and the ethics of scientific practice.
Theme: Knowledge and the Anthropocene
Topics: post-human, anthropocene, atomism, evolution, extended mind, relativity, epigenetics, human nature, entanglements, genetics revolution, cyber revolution, eugenics, race, social networks, social construction of science, warfare
1. Introduction: Science and Technology in Society
2. The Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge
3. Laboratory 1: Descriptive, Analytical, and Critical Thinking
4. Laboratory 2: The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
5. Discussion: Hume, Evidence, and Natural Religion
6. Industrialization and the Anthropocene
7. Discussion: Shelley’s Frankenstein
8. Evolutionary Theory and Race
9. Science and Empire
10. Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
11. Apocalypse Now: Nuclear Science and the Environmental Movement
12. The Genetics Revolution
13. The Computer Revolution
14. Film: Merchants of Doubt
15. Discussion: Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World
Each week will include a reading from the textbooks as well as a primary reading and/or academic article. The lecture and discussion will focus on one theme from the readings. Exams will focus on readings, especially comprehension and general knowledge. This semester, the course will focus on writing a history of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) through oral history interviews. Written materials will be primarily in the form of blog posts.
Graduate students will be reading works on the philosophy of science and meeting with me every other week to discuss.