Spring 2012 Undergraduate Courses

KEY: cr = credit hours; ci = communication intensive; PD-II = satisfies engineering professional development II requirement.


Science, Technology, & Society – 4cr, ci (STSH/S 1110) Edward Woodhouse                        MR 2-3:50pm

An introduction to the social, historical, and ethical influences on modern science and technology. Cases include development of the atomic bomb, mechanization of the workplace, Apollo space program, and others. Readings are drawn from history, fiction, and social sciences; films and documentary videos highlight questions about the application of scientific knowledge to human affairs. The class is designed to give students freedom to develop and express their own ideas.

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology – 4cr (STSS 1510)                                                      MR 6-7:50pm

An introduction to human societies and cultures in comparative perspective, from tribal societies to complex societies such as the United States. Emphasis on ethnographic descriptions of other cultures such as on the interpretation of cultural symbolism and on topical issues such as medical anthropology.

Sociology – 4cr, ci (STSS 1520) Nathan Fisk                                                                           TF 2-3:50pm

A study of the principles and concepts of sociology and their application to the study of society and self. Students are introduced to the scope, materials, and methods of sociology. The issues and problems to be studied come from basic social institutions such as the family, science, and religion. Other topics may include love, crime, political economy, power, population growth, social class, and minority and ethnic relations.

Sustainability Debates – 4cr (STSH/S 1961) Kim Fortun                                                        TF 10-11:50am

Concerns about environmental sustainability have provoked intense and complicated political debate, which highlight a series of challenges and opportunities for environmental decision making. This course analyzes the many issues involved in advancing sustainability. We debate several different sustainability topics, including alternative energy, pollution and health, and food and water resources. We also develop proposals for sustainability projects that respond to the challenges and opportunities identified. Along the way, we explore how ideas and techniques from the humanities, arts, and social sciences can be used to advance knowledge about sustainability as well as how they might inform practical action.

Environment and Society – 4cr, PD-II (STSS 2300) Michael Mascarenhas                            MR 10-11:50am

The course's main theme is ecological sustainability: what it is, how it might be achieved, how it can be maintained. The theory and practice of sustainability are explored in three parts: through an examination of the concepts, actors, and processes of society-environment interactions; through an analysis of environmental philosophies and models for action; and by addressing the problems of and prospects for building sustainable societies. This course prepares students for advanced environmental humanities and social sciences courses.

Laws, Values, & Public Policy – 4cr, ci, PD-II (STSS 2350)                                                  TF 10-11:50am

This course examines the interconnections between values and law, seeking to understand how these affect and are affected by science and technology by examining such topics as computers and privacy, medical malpractice, abortion, and other legal conflicts surrounding new reproductive technologies, problems of expert witnesses, sexual harassment, patent infringement, auto safety litigation, and siting of hazardous facilities, among others.

Environment & Law – 4cr (STSS 2960)                                                                                    TF 2:3:50pm

What U.S. and international laws protect the environment?   Who is involved in the design and enforcement of these laws?   What landmark cases shape the way people think about environmental law?  How could law better protect the environment and advance sustainability? This course examines these questions to provide the legal context and grounding of diverse sustainability issues.

Century of the Gene – 4cr (STSH 2410) Michael Fortun                                                        MR 10-11:50am

This course details the scientific and social history of genetics, from Darwin and Mendel to the Human Genome Project. Special focus areas include: plant and animal breeding in the early twentieth century; eugenics movements in the U.S. and elsewhere; bacterial and fruit fly genetics; the development of molecular biology; the invention of recombinant-DNA technologies; the emergence of the biotechnology industry; the sociobiology controversies; genetics and evolutionary theory; and the Human Genome Project and contemporary genomics.

History of US since 1877 – 4cr (STSH 2520) Ronald Helfrich                                                   MR 4-5:50pm

A survey of American history from the end of Reconstruction to the present. The course examines such major themes as industrialization, the rise of the city, and the impact of new technologies; it surveys the progressive movement, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, and the United States in World War I; and it concludes by treating the economic depression of the 1930s, the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. in World War II, and political and social developments from Kennedy to Carter. 4 credits

American Politics & Society in Crisis – 4cr (STSS 2961) Langdon Winner                              TF 12-1:50pm

Central features of American life once renown for their quality and integrity -- factories, schools, infrastructure, media, criminal justice, and political democracy itself -- are increasing prominent as sites of dysfunction and decline.   The class will study the underlying causes of these overlapping crises and possibilities for reform.  Careful reading of works in social and political analysis will be supplemented with study of the everyday tragedies depicted in "The Wire."

Bioethics – 4cr, ci, PD-II (STSH/S 4250) Nancy Campbell                                                    MR 10-11:50am

This course explores historical perspectives on bioethics through concrete cases and practical problems faced in the design and execution of some of the highest profile biomedical research and most consequential clinical decisions of the twentieth century. Topics include vaccine development; human radiation experiments; new genetic and reproductive technologies; right-to-die, death-with-dignity, and physician-assisted suicide; human experimentation, including prisoners, the sick, and the disabled; neuroethics; animal research; and emergent topics such as stem cell research, prenatal diagnostics, and genetic testing.

China: Past & Present – 4cr (STSH 4520) Jacquelyn Swearingen                                           MR 12-1:50pm

This course's purpose is to provide an introduction to the history of China over the last two centuries as well as a look at the promise and problems of its present. We will examine more than 200 years of nearly perpetual conflict and revolution – the conquest of the Manchu's, the invasion of foreign armies, the final destruction of the imperial throne and the rise of the Communist Party. In the concluding weeks we will examine such contemporary issues as the growing divide between cities and the countryside, the environmental impact of the Three Gorges Dam and human rights issues after the Tiananmen Square protests.

Self-Organization in Science & Society – 4cr (STSH 4580) Ron Eglash                                 MR 12-1:50pm

Self-organization has become an increasingly important phenomenon in both the natural sciences and engineering. Self-assembly of molecular structure is critical to nanotechnology; self-regulating ecosystems are modeled in biology, and so on. But recursive loops in which things govern themselves are also foundational to society: democracy is the people governing the people; social networks on the internet arise by self-assembly, and many indigenous societies use self-organization to create sustainable ways of life. This course will introduce students to models of self-organization in natural science and engineering, and examine their potential application to society, politics, and ethics.

Public Service Internship – 4cr (STSH/S 4800) Ali Kenner                                                        W 6-7:50pm

This course offers insight into the public policy process from the vantage point of a part-time internship in the public or private sector as well as an opportunity to explore a career option before actually embarking upon it. The following is a partial list of the large number of possible internships: airport planning, architecture, banking, biological research, clinical psychology, computer science, consumer protection, corporate management, engineering, environmental planning, geology, local government, materials and mechanical engineering, noise pollution abatement, personnel management review, premedical, public finance and taxation, public health management, public relations, social work, state legislature, stock market, transportation planning, and urban planning.

Professional Development II – 2cr, ci, PD-II (STSS 4840) Steve Pierce                                     W 2-3:50pm

This class explores technological contexts for leadership, styles and skills of leadership, and different leadership roles. Assignments develop a variety of communication skills. A team-based project gives students the opportunity to demonstrate leadership initiative by proposing solutions to social problems that combine technical expertise with social analysis and communication skills.

Youth & Teens On-line – 4cr (STSS 4961) Nathan Fisk                                                        MR 10-11:50am

In a world where cyberbullies, memes and advances in educational technologies make regular headlines, it is clear that information technologies are increasingly becoming part of the everyday lives of youth. This course examines intersections between youth and information technologies, including the history and mutual development of youth and technology, youth culture online, and technology policy concerning youth and the Internet. While the course will focus topically on youth and the Internet, students will be introduced broader concepts from surveillance studies, childhood studies, and policy analysis.

Sciences of Sustainability – 4cr (STSS 4962) Michael Fortun                                                  MR 2-3:50pm

How did scientists come to understand the earth as an integrated ecosystem – as a living planet? How have the many sciences of sustainability --ecology, agronomy, biogeochemistry, climatology, epidemiology, toxicology – developed new concepts, technological infrastructures, and national and international institutions aimed at understanding the earth, and its limits, as a whole? This course explores these questions, examining the Gaia hypothesis, the growth of the ecological sciences after WWII, the emergence of environmentalism, the growth and decay of public health institutions, and other topics. Students will develop their own research projects describing the history or contemporary state of a particular science of sustainability.

War in Afghanistan – 4cr (STSH/S 4963) Ronald Helfrich                                                        TF 12-1:50pm

This course explores the history, politics, economics, media coverage and policy of the US war in Afghanistan. We begin with the ancient history of what would become Afghanistan and conclude with speculations regarding the future of the US in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. By the end of the course you should have polished your analytical skills, skills in the use of evidence, and research skills; should be more accomplished public speakers and writers of research papers; and should, finally, be more critical, informed, and independent-thinking democratic citizens.

American Foreign Policy – 4cr (STSH/S 4964) Jacquelyn Swearingen                                   MR 12-1:50pm

American Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century traces the development of America's relations with the rest of the world through two world wars, the Cold War and the era of globalization. Using historical analysis as well as case studies of key decisions like the Cuban Missile Crisis, this course aims to examine such questions as the role of domestic politics, the significance of ideas and identity, and the impact of financial crises on foreign policy. The course will focus on topics such as isolationism, U.S. wars in Asia, tensions with the Soviet Union, the uses of foreign aid, and the War on Terror.

Sustainability Education – 4cr (STSS 4965) Kim Fortun                                                         TF 12-1:50pm

What knowledge and thought styles are needed to advance environmental sustainability? How can educators cultivate the kind of knowledge and thinking needed? How can sustainability educators reach kids of different ages, and different kinds of communities? This course will examine these questions through review of varied ways environmental education can be conceptualized and delivered. The course will also provide opportunities for creative development of educational materials and outreach.

Globalization & Development – 4cr, ci (STSH 4967/STSS 4966) Michael Mascarenhas             MR 2-3:50pm

This course studies the politics of the international/global environment. As a field of study it examines questions about the environment; state sovereignty; policy processes at the local, national, and international levels; and north-south politics. It also prompts us to interrogate notions of sustainability and the very character of human interaction with the "natural world."

Senior Project – 4cr, ci (STSH/S 4980) Ali Kenner                                                                     R 6-7:50pm

This class is designed to support the development of STS senior thesis projects. Independent research, supervised by a faculty member, culminating in a written thesis. A creative endeavor such as a videotape or computer program may be substituted with departmental permission.