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Autumn Quarter 2016

BISSTS 497A: History of Medicine (5 credits; IAS - UW Bothell)
Laura Harkewicz

Mondays and Wednesdays
8:45 am - 10:45 am

In the last few decades, medicine and the life sciences have become the locus for some of society’s most extravagant hopes and acute anxieties. Medicine, History, and Society is aimed at students who would like to uncover the history behind the headlines and take the "longer view" of some of these issues. It will cover some basic facts and concepts, featuring three broad themes: 1) medical ways of knowing, 2) technological contributions, and 3) the effects of existing philosophies, paradigms, or political/social/cultural conditions. We will discuss a variety of characters from the history of medicine and consider their contributions to the medical field. We will investigate the origins of aspects of contemporary life familiar to us all, from the vitamins we take daily to giving birth in a hospital, bringing a historical perspective to bear on topics such as the politics of pharmaceutical patents, the emergence of the new genetic determinism, and ways cultural representations of medicine and doctors inform our health care decisions.

GEOG 522: Space, Technology and Society (5 credits)
Sarah Elwood

Thursdays
2:30 pm - 5:20 pm

In this seminar, we will explore a range of theorizations and literatures that geographers and other scholars have used to examine relationships between space, technologies, and society. We emphasize digital spatial technologies/practices, such as GIS, the geoweb, mobile spatial technologies, big data and their implications for digital subjectivities and inequalities, new forms of social control and exclusion, and (inter)disciplinary debates about epistemology and methodology. We will read work from some of the well-established historical materialist and political economic theorizations of space and technologies, as well as very new work by critical scholars that considers subjectivities, embodiments, and social relations that emerge from and with spatial technologies. The seminar reflects the diversity of ways that critical social scientists have theorized the societal significance of the digital and the spatial, including enduring concerns as well as issues raised by more recent tech/social developments. In particular this seminar is structured to read questions of digitality, visuality and poverty with feminist, post-colonial and critical race theory.

PHIL 560: Explanation and Understanding (5 credits)
Andrea Woody

Mondays
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm

The first half of this course will be devoted to a survey of the core literature on scientific explanation.  This survey will include the original inferential (Hempel), causal (Salmon), erotetic (Van Fraassen), and unificationist (Kitcher, Friedman) approaches to explanation.  We will then to turn more contemporary work, including mechanistic explanation, Streven’s kairetic account, and Woodward’s highly influential counterfactual/interventionist approach.  We will also consider a reorientation of philosophical work concerning explanation that I have advocated under the label of a “functionalist perspective”.  In the final weeks of the term we will consider recent work on the topic of scientific understanding, drawing from writings by de Regt, Dieks, Mizrahi, Khalidi, Kuorikoski, Ylikoski, and Rice, and consider the links between explanation and understanding.

STSS 591: Science, Technology, and Society Studies in Action (2 credits, C/NC)
Leah Ceccarelli

Fridays
1:30 pm - 3:20 pm

This course introduces graduate students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to Science, Technology, and Society Studies (STSS) as an interdisciplinary area of study at the University of Washington. It is designed especially for those enrolled in, or thinking of applying to, the STSS graduate certificate program. Each week, a different member of the STSS faculty network will introduce a theme or area of active research interest. By the end of the quarter, students should be able to: evaluate the different disciplinary research methodologies that are applied to questions in the contextual study of science and technology; integrate STS concepts and methods with the core ideas of their home disciplines; navigate the ethics, policy and equity issues that arise at the interface of science, technology and society; and critically appraise and deploy robust content knowledge of relevant science, technology and society studies research beyond their home disciplines. In addition, social science and humanities students will demonstrate the ability to situate disciplinary interests in science and technology in an interdisciplinary context; and STEM program and Professional program students will demonstrate an understanding of the history, social context, and philosophy of the research traditions in which they work.

 


Winter Quarter 2017

BISSTS 497A: Race, Gender, Science and Medicine (5 credits; IAS - UW Bothell)
Laura Harkewicz

Mondays and Wednesdays
5:45 pm - 7:45 pm

In this course, we will focus on the interplay between science, technology, and medicine on the one hand, and race, gender, and sexuality on the other.  We will discuss how cultural ideas about race, gender, and sexuality influence knowledge and knowledge production as well as how scientific claims and technological developments influence cultural understandings of race, gender, and sexuality.  We will examine the implications of developments in science and medicine for politics, social identity, and cultural belonging.  In addition, we will explore the efforts by individuals and social movements to challenge scientific institutions while asserting new claims about identity, inequality, and difference.  Among other questions, we will ask how these ideas influence who is involved in knowledge production or what it means to experience these constructs on a personal level.  This course examines recent scholarship on the role of race, gender, and sexuality in the social studies of science drawing from the fields of biology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and (especially) history.

PHIL 243 / ENVIR 243: Environmental Ethics (5 credits)
Stephen Gardiner

Tuesdays and Thursdays
11:30 am - 12:50 pm

In this course we will explore how to identify, articulate and think critically about the ethical dimensions of environmental challenges. We will learn about various general theories in environmental ethics, and also how to apply philosophical skills and concepts to specific environmental problems, such as restoring local ecosystems and global climate change.  Topics will include: the nature and extent of individual and social obligations to distant people, nonhuman animals, plants and ecosystems; the role of economic considerations in environmental policy-making; the origins of environmental problems; and the relevance of concepts such as justice and responsibility to solutions. The course will focus partly on the contributions of standard philosophical theories and techniques to environmental debates, and partly on the challenges that environmental issues raise to familiar theoretical approaches.

PHIL 406A: Philosophical Topics in Feminism - Feminist Philosophy of Science (5 credits)
Alison Wylie

Mondays and Wednesdays
1:30 pm - 3:20 pm

Critics of the very idea of feminist philosophy of science insist that, because feminism is an explicitly political stance, it can have nothing to do with science or how we understand it philosophically. Feminists have been prominent among those who contest the epistemic ideals implicit in such arguments and who, at the same time, insist that a robust contextualism need not entail a reductive relativism. The aim of this seminar is to explore the range of positions articulated by feminist philosophers of science in response both to conventional ‘aperspectival’ ideals and charges of relativism.

VALUES 512: Justice Matters (5 credits)
Stephen Gardiner

Thursdays
3:30 pm - 5:20 pm

This course aims to introduce graduate and professional students from a wide range of backgrounds to some central moral questions about social structures and institutions.  Discussion will center on issues of justice, broadly construed as the basic virtue of social institutions. In particular, the course will ask what it is to treat people as equals, and consider different answers to this question proposed by (for example) utilitarians, liberals, libertarians, socialists and communitarians.  It is assumed that perspectives brought from different fields will prove mutually illuminating.  Students will consider conceptual frameworks for thinking about the increasingly familiar difficulties that arise in any attempt to fashion fair and decent policies in various areas of our lives. This course serves as the core course for the Graduate Certificate in Ethics, but is also routinely taken as an independent course. Those interested in the certificate program are encouraged to contact the Director of the Program on Values in Society, Steve Gardiner, at smgard@uw.edu.

 


Spring Quarter 2017

BISSTS 497A: History of Medicine (5 credits; IAS - UW Bothell)
Laura Harkewicz

Tuesdays and Thursdays

1:15 pm - 3:15 pm

In the last few decades, medicine and the life sciences have become the locus for some of society’s most extravagant hopes and acute anxieties. Medicine, History, and Society is aimed at students who would like to uncover the history behind the headlines and take the "longer view" of some of these issues. It will cover some basic facts and concepts, featuring three broad themes: 1) medical ways of knowing, 2) technological contributions, and 3) the effects of existing philosophies, paradigms, or political/social/cultural conditions. We will discuss a variety of characters from the history of medicine and consider their contributions to the medical field. We will investigate the origins of aspects of contemporary life familiar to us all, from the vitamins we take daily to giving birth in a hospital, bringing a historical perspective to bear on topics such as the politics of pharmaceutical patents, the emergence of the new genetic determinism, and ways cultural representations of medicine and doctors inform our health care decisions.

COM 540: Rhetoric of Science (5 credits)
Leah Ceccarelli

Mondays and Wednesdays

1:30 pm - 3:20 pm

This graduate seminar will examine the interdisciplinary field of scholarship known as the “rhetoric of science.” We will study the rhetorical structure of arguments made by scientists to their peers, the rhetorical strategies used by scientists when they communicate outside their fields of expertise, and the persuasive moves made by publics engaging technoscientific issues. Questions for discussion will include: How do scientists use language, situation, culture, and prior tradition to reach intersubjective agreement about their discoveries and theories? In what ways are the argumentative standards applied by scientists in their fields of expertise similar to those applied by arguers in public or private settings? How do scientists communicate with the public? What does public discourse about science reveal about our attitudes toward science? What happens when there is a crisis involving science or technology in the public sphere and scientific expertise is unable to resolve doubt and warrant deliberative action? We will read a number of critical works in the field, to see how rhetorical scholars have added to our collective knowledge about the communicative practices of scientists. We will discuss some of the larger theoretical and practical issues that arise from the rhetorical interpretation of science. And over the course of the quarter, each student will write a paper that engages in the rhetorical criticism of a piece of communication about science. No background in rhetoric or in science is necessary to take this course. For more information, contact Professor Leah Ceccarelli, cecc@uw.edu.

HCDE 548: Design as Inquiry: Methods and Trajectories (4 credits)
Daniela Rosner
Sarah Fox

Tuesdays and Thursdays

1:30 pm - 3:20 pm

As programs of design continue to have an ever-widening impact, investigators have an obligation to re-examine design’s core commitments and trajectories. In this course, we draw together analyses of design methods with meditations on the research process. Along this path, we consider case studies of alternative approaches rooted in feminist technoscience. For many, intervention and inquiry represent separate and distinct categories of practice. On one side, interventionists aim to shift the situation of those with whom they work, developing mechanisms for social change, whether malignant or benign. On the other side, inquirers make a given situation into their object of study, revealing something of the people who comprise and inhabit it. This seminar introduces students to what it means to treat design as an integrative practice of both intervention and inquiry. Through close readings and in-class exercises, students will examine the intellectual legacies of different approaches to studying and theorizing design and gain fresh perspectives on integrative techniques. Students will investigate how an integrative inquiry may produce distinct ethical-political stances other methodological orientations tend to ignore. Together these differences in method generate distinct research questions and different ways of making sense of design encounters. Approaching a design situation through such integrative methods changes processes of inquiry and intervention, as well as the always-situated investigators themselves. 

HUM 597A: Observation, Objectivity, and Object Biographies: Reading Lorraine Daston (1 credit, C/NC)
Alison Wylie

Mondays (April 3, 10, 24, 3:30 pm - 5:20 pm) & Daston events on April 19 and 20

This microseminar is convened in conjunction with the visit of Lorraine Daston to the University of Washington as a Katz Distinguished Lecturer in April 2017. A widely respected historian of science, Daston’s pivotal publications on the transformations of ideals of objectivity, biographies of scientific objects and conventions of image-making have been widely influential and exemplifies the interdisciplinary vision that animates UW's graduate certificate in Science, Technology & Society Studies. We will discuss a sampling of Daston’s work, both common readings and work identified by participating students as relevant to their research interests. Details are available on the course website.

INFX 598A & 598B: Information Infrastructure Studies (3 credits)
Megan Finn

Tuesdays

1:30 pm - 4:20 pm

In this seminar, we will examine the making, maintenance, and use of infrastructures for circulating information.  This class covers theoretical and historical perspectives on the development of infrastructure, methods for studying infrastructure, and studies of infrastructures. We will pay close attention to the cultural, social and political aspects of information infrastructure as we examine case studies of how vast means for circulating information developed and endured over centuries, or, equally importantly, failed.

MCB 543: Logic Constructs and Methodologies of Biological Research (3 credits)
James Zimring

Tuesdays and Thursdays

3:30 pm - 4:50 pm

Both undergraduate and graduate education in the basic sciences consist largely of a mastery of the “scientific facts” of a field, an understanding of the dominant theoretical paradigms in an area, and learning the linguistic particulars of specialized vocabulary. However, little formal attention is paid to the workings and process of science itself. For at least 2400 years, philosophers have been analyzing modes of reasoning, fallacies of thinking, and the legitimacy or truth claims made by different methods of scientific exploration. Moreover, it is a myth that there is, or ever has been, an agreed upon “scientific method” that constitutes the correct way to investigate. In recent centuries, fields dedicated to the analysis of science itself (philosophy of science, history of science, sociology of science) have emerged, each of which analyzes the process that scientists engage in as a part of their everyday function. Most graduate students learn method and process through their individual research projects, interactions with mentors and peers, and by attending scientific seminars and meetings. However, little attention has been traditionally paid, within the basic science curriculum, to codifying the issues in an organized way. This course will provide an overview of the practice of science itself, and introduce the students to historical issues, matters of consensus, and cutting edge issues of ongoing controversy. Attention will be paid to both theoretical and practical application of scientific method, with a distinct focus on the practical application of the covered concepts to the practice of everyday scientific exploration. After completing the course, students should understand and interface differently with science they encounter, papers they read, and their own projects.

PHIL 291 / VALUES 291: Ethics in Science (5 credits)
Alison Wylie

Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays

11:30 am - 1:20 pm

Quiz sections: Wednesday and Friday

12:30- 1:20 pm, 1:30 - 2:20 pm, or 2:30 - 3:20 pm

Scientific research has an impact on all of us, and on every aspect of our lives. Most of us will be research subjects at one time or another; all of us are affected by science-based policies; our everyday-lives have been transformed by the results of scientific research – in good and bad ways. Scientific research raises ethics issues that have never been more pressing or more consequential than now. This course is designed to explore these issues, primarily with reference to the non-medical sciences. For the details of focal topics and course requirements, please see the course website.

 


Programs

History and Philosophy of Science - Major (UW Seattle)
http://depts.washington.edu/hps/

Science, Technology and Society - Major (UW Bothell)
http://www.uwb.edu/sciencetechsociety

Comparative History of Ideas - Major (UW Seattle)
http://depts.washington.edu/chid/