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Regular version of the site

Social History of Science

2020/2021
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
3
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
When:
3 year, 1, 2 module

Instructor

Course Syllabus

Abstract

This course introduces students to the changing social role of science, its professionalization within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the relations between science and other forms of knowledge (e.g., religion and philosophy), and the interaction of science with social institutions like gender, business, government, and civil society. The course is an interdisciplinary approach to studying science, which combines the sociology of science, historical epistemology, new social history, etc. Beginning with a brief foray into the nature of science, we will discuss such topics as the debates between science and the humanities, the image of Isaak Newton and the reassessment of his contribution to natural sciences, the influence of social sciences on creating structural racism and the modern critique of such influence, Thomas Khun’s view of scientific revolutions, Bruno Latour’s exploration of research labs and technological progress, Max Weber’s idea of political neutrality in scientific research, the role of gender in science, controversies between academia, popular scientists, and pseudo-scientists, etc. The course includes fifteen on- and offline lectures, fifteen offline tutorials, one essay, a number of quizzes, and one exam. The course is designed for the HSE third-year undergraduates with a good command of English (B2 or higher). No prior knowledge is assumed.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Students should know the importance of social contexts in analyzing scientific knowledge.
  • Students will be able to discuss the social uses of science and the significance of such usages in modern and post-modern world.
  • Students should understand how science interacts with the humanities and other forms of knowledge like religion and philosophy.
  • Students will be capable of writing an essay on the social history of science, i.e. formulating a problem statement and support it with arguments and examples.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • To understand (1) science as a product of social constructivism, i.e., all our ideas about nature are not determined by nature itself but explored and interpreted by either individuals or social institutions; (2) the interactions between science and other forms of knowledge like the humanities; (3) the limits and perspectives of science; (4) the nature of scientific revolutions and thier role in developing science.
  • Be acquainted with the works by Max Weber, Robert Merton, Alexander Etkind, etc.
  • Be able to formulate statements about scientific ethical dilemmas and support them with arguments and examples from the readings discussed at tutorials.
  • Be able to develop arguments on (1) science and free will; (2) interactions between science and religion; (3) scientific claims and absolute truth.
  • To explain (1) the role of gender in constructing scientific arguments; (2) the idea of research university and whether this idea ever existed in the real world; (3) the interactions between business and science in the twenty-first century; (4) the demarcation of science from non-science and the popularization of science in Russia and beyond.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • "Scientificity" of Science
    The nature of science; sciences and humanities; the objectivity of scientific knowledge; social sciences and racism; scientific revolutions; Bruno Latour’s ideas about scientific progress and research labs, etc.
  • Science and Ethics
    Max Weber and the principle of neutrality in academic research; Illegal experiments and Soviet scientific utopia in the 1920s; Robert Merton’s imperatives of modern science; academic integrity; the ethics of scientific experiments: moral dilemmas in science and medicine; etc.
  • Science, Philosophy, and Religion (Online Lectures)
    Neuroscience and free will; controversies and interactions between science and religion; scientific claims and absolute truth; etc.
  • Science and Social Institutions
    Science and gender; the idea of research universities; science under autocratic and democratic regimes; science and business in the twenty-first century; etc.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Exam
    The exam is taken online on the Zoom platform. Students are provided with the link for logging in before the exam. Students should schedule their preferable time for joining the session at least one day prior to the exam. The group of 5-7 students logs in simultaneously. Others join the session at the appointed time, one by one. All students are supposed to check out their microphones, webcams, and Internet connection before the exam. As the exam goes on, it is not allowed to: turn off the microphone or webcam; use notes, textbooks, and other educational materials as well as smart gadgets; leave the place where the exam task is taken (go beyond the camera's viewing angle); look away from computer screen or desktop; talk and seek outside help. A short-term communication failure during the exam is considered to be the loss of a student's network connection with the Zoom platform for no longer than 1 minute. A long-term communication failure during the exam is considered to be the loss of a student's network connection with the Zoom platform for longer than 1 minute. A student cannot participate, if there is a long-term communication failure. The retake procedure is similar to the exam procedure. In case of long-term communication failure in the Zoom platform during the examination task, the student must notify the lecturer, record the fact of loss of connection with the platform (screenshot, a response from the Internet provider). Then contact the manager of the academic program with an explanatory note about the incident to decide on retaking the exam.
  • non-blocking Cumulative assessment (tutorials * 30% + quizzes * 40% + essay * 30%)
    Starting November 16, all lectures and tutorials are held online via Zoom. Students are provided with necessary links and materials in advance (please, check out your LMS schedule.) The format of class discussions does not change. All cumulative assessment formulae remain the same.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    The course does not have “blocking grades.” A final grade results from the cumulative assessment and the exam grade, according to the formulae: G(final) = G(cumulative) * 60% + G(exam) * 40%. Students can be exempted from the exam, if their G(cumulative) is equal to 7.5 or higher, i.e., “excellent” or “very good.” The cumulative assessment includes class discussions, G(tutorials), quizzes G(quizzes), and essay scores G(essay) as to the formulae: G(cumulative) = G(tutorials) * 30% + G(quizzes) * 40% + G(essay) * 30%.
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Burke, P. (2013). Social History of Knowledge : From Gutenberg to Diderot. Oxford: Polity. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=957023
  • Hopkins, E. (2000). Industrialisation and Society : A Social History, 1830-1951. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=60622
  • Imperial Technology and ‘Native’ Agency : A Social History of Railways in Colonial India, 1850–1920. (2018). Netherlands, Europe: Taylor & Francis. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.40A97089
  • Kwa, C. (2011). Styles of Knowing : A New History of Science From Ancient Times to the Present. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=829387
  • Lightman, B. V. (2016). A Companion to the History of Science. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1163670
  • Major, P., & Mitter, R. (2004). Across the Blocs : Exploring Comparative Cold War Cultural and Social History. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=115095
  • Max Weber. (2016). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Dancing Unicorn Books.

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Bruno Latour. (2017). Facing Gaia : Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime. Polity.
  • Bruno Latour. (n.d.). 10 ‘“Where Are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a FewMundane Artifacts.”’ Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.9F57104B
  • Daunton, M. (2007). Wealth and Welfare: An Economic and Social History of Britain 1851-1951. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.b.oxp.obooks.9780198732099
  • InterDisciplines, B. (2019). Social History - Historical Sociology. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.7498A8C3
  • Tomka, B. (2013). A Social History of Twentieth-Century Europe. London: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=549103