Social History of Science 2020/21

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About the course

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.

Students should know the importance of social contexts in analyzing scientific knowledge, be able to discuss the social uses of science and the significance of such usages in modern and post-modern world, understand how science interacts with the humanities and other forms of knowledge like religion and philosophy.

Lecturer Oleg Morozov

The course is blended. Coursera Link

Grading system

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%.

All grades are rounded to the nearest ten. No rounding in the G(tutorials) calculations.