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Teaching STS full description

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Summer Semester 2018


Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt:
Living Knowledge: An Introduction to Qualitative Research (Foundational Year)
(Course Number 00LE62V-LAS-CO0028)

This course introduces students to a broad consideration of knowledge in its historical, social, political and practical contexts. Drawing on work in the history, anthropology and sociology of knowledge, the course addresses knowledge production and circula- tion beyond academia, as well as knowledge transfers in and across professional fields, educational systems, regions, cultures, and knowledge regimes. It aims at fos- tering reflection about questions such as “What counts as knowledge, and who gets to decide? What has counted as knowledge in previous centuries? What is (or what was) the relationship between scientific knowledge and knowledge that is (was) not deemed scientific, as, for example, common sense knowledge, or the knowledge of non- academic professional fields, or knowledge produced and used by political entities?” It also fosters reflection about epistemic beliefs, or “personal epistemology”: That is, how humans (including ourselves) use, evaluate, cherish and question knowledge in their daily lives, how they relate emotionally to specific forms of knowledge, and how they deal with uncertainties.

In addition to this focus on knowledge, this course also focuses on some basic as- pects of academic/scientific work, such as research designs and methodologies. Cru- cially, it is designed to provide basic insights into, and first experiences with, qualita- tive methodologies (as complementary to quantitative methods, the basics of which are provided in Dealing With Numerical Information).

The course consists of four parts:

  1. In the first half of each weekly lecture, we will discuss historical and contemporary examples of knowledge, along with theoretical perspectives, such as tacit knowing, social constructivist or cognitive theories.
  2. In the second half of each weekly lecture, we will look into various aspects of aca- demic/ scientific work, such as “How do researchers come to choose an object to study, a research design,” “What does it mean for students to become socialized into a discipline” etc.
  3. In the workgroups, students will discuss texts and will gain insights into ethnograph- ic methods (e.g. interviews and participatory observation), as applied to the broad topic of “knowledge experiences in everyday life”.

Students must also attend 3 of the 5 meetings of the STS Colloquium, which this semester features world-renowned senior scholars in science and technology studies, who directly engage questions about knowledge relevant to the course. Colloquium meetings include a talk and an open discussion. During weeks with colloquium meetings (see below), regularly scheduled workshops DO NOT MEET.

Students enrolled in an Introduction to Governance workgroup on Thursdays at 16.00 in Block III should plan to attend the talks indicated with an * to avoid scheduling conflicts (note that Introduction to Governance workgroups will not meet on 19.04., and the final two colloquium meetings occur after the conclusion of Block III).

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Coloquium Science and Technology Studies
(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-IN0002)

In summer semester 2018, the Chair in Science and Technology Studies will welcome renowned senior colleagues from the international STS research community for talks and extended discussions. The broad theme of the colloquium series is “Society/ Biol- ogy/Environment,” and in addition to hearing talks on current research, we will discuss prospects for STS in Germany.

Jenny Reardon, 19.04.2018
University of California, Santa Cruz (Sociology and the Science and Justice Research Center). Author of The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome.

Susan Jones, 03.05.2018
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine and the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior). Author of Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax.

Nancy Campbell, 17.05.2018
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Department of Science, Technology, and Society). Co-author of Gendering Addiction: The Politics of Drug Treatment in a Neurochemical World.

Anne Harrington, 14.06.2018
Harvard University (History of Science). Author of The Cure Within: A History of Mind- Body Medicine.

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Ignorance, Uncertainty, Unknowns
(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-CO0031)

This course has two components: First, it takes us through some classical and some recent STS readings regarding ignorance. Second, we will attend the FRIAS Lunch Lectures every second week and discuss each of them afterwards:

Matthias Groß, 03.05.2018
"Back to the Unknown: How Ignorance can be Useful", Urban and Environmental Sociology

Oliver Bräunling, 17.05.2018
Mathematics

Majid Daneshgar, 07.06.2018
Religion and Islamic Studies

Stefan Schmidt, 14.06.2018
"Hidden Rituals in Medicine", Psychology

Stefan Buhmann, 21.06.2018
Physics

Lorena Bachmaier, 28.06.2018
Law

Anne Harrington, 05.07.2018
History of Science and Medicine

Paolo Silvestri, 12.07.2018
(Legal and Political Philosophy)

Gunther Neuhaus, 19.07.2018
Biology

Students submit an essay as a graded exam within six weeks after the end of the seminar.

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt, Prof. Dr. Peter Pfaffelhuber: Aspects of Human Genetic Diversity

Finding structure in diversity between humans has long interested researchers. Most scientific inquirires are based on (oftentimes implicit) conceptual assumptions about the basic units of that structure: race, population or gradient. Since the availability of DNA as inherited character, these differences have become a new and highly quantifiable aspect. However, at the same time, choosing and demarcating human groups and individuals to represent certain populations, races or gradients entails many non-quantitative decisions and processes. Similarly, choosing methods, models, and markers also entails choices that are not always obvious or without alternatives.

This seminar is a cross-disciplinary teaching project with the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences and Mathematics as key players. We will discuss statistical methods from the field of (human) population genetics and, on that basis, also consider the validity of the research results. Furthermore, we will examine the societal assumptions about (and imaginations of) human societies that inform the research designs of these studies. We will discuss possible consequences of that research field in epistemological and societal perspective. To do so, we will work exemplarily with a few populations covered by human population genetic studies.

The specific goal of this seminar is to learn with and from each other about the many facets (methodological, societal, political, biological, anthropological, etc.) of a seemingly homogeneous research topic.

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt, Angela Meran-Witt: Creating an Exhibition Unit for the UNISEUM:
The Alexander Ecker Collection
(Course number 00LE62S-LAS-CH0030)

This block course implements the findings from the previous course within the UNISEUM exhibition. It will equip students with practical skills in exhibition conceptualization and design. Realization of the exhibition requires the development of an exhibition concept as well as detail work such as the writing of exhibition texts, the design of multimedia presentations, the search for suitable images and illustrations, the design and conceptualization of PR strategies and instruments.

We will build two groups: One for hands-on museological work, the other for PR- related tasks concerning the exhibit.

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Human Remains Exhibited? Skulls as Objects of colonialism, Race Science and Museal Display

Skull collections around the world - but particularly in Germany - have received much controversial attention recently: As objects representing a problematic legacy of Germany's colonial era, as objects of repatriation claims, as objects of scientific inquiry into race in past and present, and as objects of display in museums and exhibits. Freiburg university hosts one of the most fervently debated skull collections in Germany: The "Alexander-Ecker-Collection". As part of the project “Forschendes Lernen im Uniseum”, this course will tackle different perspectives on the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg. The skull collection was initiated by the anatomist and physician Alexander Ecker (1816-1887); after his death, a number of successors looked after the collection, most notably Eugen Fischer (1874-1967), who later become spearhead of the national-socialist race ideology. In  the year 2002, the collection became part of the University Archives. In the last couple of years, the collection mostly appeared in media reports in the context of repatriation requests from Namibia and Australia. As a result, provenance research on the collection took place, and some of the remains have been returned to their homelands (i.e. to Namibia in 2013). This short summary of the collection’s history already highlights key topics/questions for the course:

  • What are the historical contexts under which collection took place? Why did people collect skulls in the 19th and early 20th century?
  • How was the collection interpreted in the past – and how do various stakeholders see and understand it today?
  • How can the collection’s future be imagined – caught between being testimony to a certain period in the history of science, current scientific potential, and ethical demands brought about by its very existence?
  • How can the collection, its difficult history, and the various perspectives on it, be presented in an exhibition?

The course will combine theoretical and interdisciplinary perspectives, historical and contemporary research with practical application: Students will conduct independent research projects on various aspects of the topic, the results of which will be used to create a new exhibition unit in the Uniseum.

The course is conducted by Prof. Veronika Lipphardt with the cooperation of Prof. Dr. Ursula Wittwer-Backofen and Prof. Dr. Dieter Speck, and will be accompanied by Sarah Fründt (Chair of Sience and Technology Studies) and Angela Meran-Witt (Uniseum). All of these will bring in their own expertise and practical experience, thus highlighting different perspectives on the collection.

 

Winter Semester 2017/18

Dr. Nicholas Buchanan: Science, Technology and Society

(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-CO0036)

Science and technology are defining characteristics of our world. But how is scientific knowledge made, how are technologies developed? What impacts do these have on our lives and the lives of others, and in what ways do human choices shape science and technology?

This course explores science and technology not as bodies of knowledge or collections of artifacts, but rather as social practices and processes. In it, we will examine the interrelationships among science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts, with the aim of better understanding the embeddedness of scientific and technical activities within society.

Because Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an eclectic and wide-ranging field of inquiry that resists clean theoretical summary, the course will not be organized as a tour of major canonical theories within science and technology studies. Instead, lectures will explore how STS can help provide a deeper understanding of all-too- easily taken-for-granted categories in public discourse, such as “science,” “technology,” “bodies,” “nature,” “experts,” and “disciplines.” Throughout  our discussion, we will nonetheless highlight important schools of thought within STS as we draw on sources in the history of science and technology, the sociology of scientific knowledge, and the anthropology of science and technology.

In workgroups, we will read and discuss a wide variety theoretical and empirical texts that interrogate science and technology as social phenomena. In addition, the course will also focus on the idea that STS can be a productive avenue for public engagement, and students will participate in projects meant to use insights from STS as a way to inform public debates.

 

Summer Semester 2017

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Ignorance, Uncertainty and Non-Knowledge (Cooperative with FRIAS lunch lectures)

(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-CO0031)

What it is that we don't know, and that maybe we will never know? Or: that we don't know yet? Or: that we don't even know yet that we don't know? Or: that we don't want, or should not want, to know? Or: that we are not supposed to know? And in the latter case: who then is it who doesn't want us (academics, ultimately society) to know?

This seminar has two components: First, it takes us through some classical and some recent STS readings (most of them in English, some of them in German language) regarding the handling of ignorance, uncertainty and not-knowing in the sciences. Second, we will attend the FRIAS lunch lectures every second week and discuss each of them afterwards. In this lecture series, covering a highly diverse set of academic disciplines and research cultures, FRIAS Fellows will address questions relevant for shedding light on ignorance and uncertainty, touching upon ethical, political, economic, and social aspects. Students submit a 12-15-page-essay as a Prüfungsleistung within 6 weeks after the end of the seminar.


Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt, Dr. Nicholas Buchanan: Living Knowledge. Practise and Reflection of Qualitative Methods (Foundational Year)

(Course Number 00LE62V-LAS-CO0028, 00LE62S-LAS-CO0028)

This course introduces students to a broad consideration of knowledge in its historical, social, political and practical contexts. Drawing on work  in the history, anthropology and  sociology of knowledge, the course addresses knowledge production and circulation beyond academia, as well as knowledge transfers in and across professional fields, educational systems, regions, cultures, and knowledge regimes. It aims at fostering reflection about questions such as "What counts as knowledge? What has counted as knowledge in previous centuries? What is (or what was) the relationship between scientific knowledge and knowledge that is (was) not deemed scientific, as, for example, common sense knowledge, or the knowledge of non-academic professional fields, or knowledge produced and used by political entities?“ It also fosters reflection about epistemic beliefs, or „personal epistemology“: That is, how humans (including ourselves) use, evaluate, cherish and question knowledge in their daily lifes, how they relate emotionally to specific forms of knowledge, and how they deal with uncertainties.

In addition to this focus on knoweldge, this course is also designed to provide basic insights into, and first experiences with, qualitative methodologies (as complementary to quantitative methods, the basics of which were provided in Dealing With Numerical Information).

The course consists of two parts. In the weekly lecture, we will discuss historical and contemporary examples along with theoretical perspectives, such as social constructivist or cognitive theories. In the workgroups, students are trained to do ethnographic studies (e.g. interviews and participatory observation), broadly dealing with knowledge experiences in every day life.


Dr. Nicholas Buchanan: The Future: Science Fiction and Historical Inquiry

(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-COCH0002)

What will the future bring? Will the years, decades, or even centuries to come bring prosperity or despair? A technological utopia or an apocalypse? For numerous writers, film-makers, and thinkers, questions about the future have inspired works of speculation that touch on every imaginable aspect of the human condition. In this course, we will explore the future—in novels and films—as a way to understand the past, especially the cultures, concerns, and preoccupations of the places and times where these futures were imagined. In particular, we will examine how these sources can illuminate the cultural roles played by prediction; changing attitudes towards scientific and technological change; the potentials and limitations of human knowledge and ability; the specter of science and technology out of control; concerns about religion in an age of cold rationality; and the ways that technology can oppress or emancipate. Star ships, androids, and aliens will also be discussed as time permits.

The course will focus on critical analysis and interpretation of speculative literature and film as historical sources, paying attention to both the production and consumption of these works. We will also engage with a variety of other primary sources, building skills in historical methodologies, the interpretation of texts, and narrative analysis. We will contextualize our interpretations with the relevant scholarly literature history, social science, and science and technology studies.

 

Winter Semester 2016/17

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: An Introduction to Responsibility and Leadership

(Course Number 00LE62VS-LAS-CO0026)

Responsibility and Leadership are two key terms of the LAS curriculum. This course aims at introducing basic concepts of responsibility and leadership. Further, it introduces students to past and present academic debates around these terms.Hence, it does not provide students with, for example, leadership skills, but rather critically examines how leadership has been understood in the past and how it is understood today. In addition, this course aims at sensitizing students to issues related to responsibility, gender and diversity, educational psychology, self concepts, and social interaction. Students will attend weekly lecture-and-discussion sessions, a number of guest lectures and a workshop that provides them with a diversity training.

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Uncertainty, Unknowns and Ignorance in the Sciences

(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-IN0003)

What it is that we don't know, and that maybe we will never know? Or: that we don't know yet? Or: that we don't even know yet that we don't know? Or: that we don't want, or should not want, to know? Or: that we are not supposed to know? And in the latter case: who then is it who doesn't want us (academics, ultimately society) to know?

This seminar has two components: First, it takes us through some classical and some recent STS readings (most of them in English, some of them in German language) regarding the handling of ignorance, uncertainty and not-knowing in the sciences. Second, we will attend the FRIAS lunch lectures every second week and discuss each of them afterwards. In this lecture series, covering a highly diverse set of academic disciplines and research cultures, FRIAS Fellows will address questions relevant for shedding light on ignorance and uncertainty, touching upon ethical, political, economic, and social aspects.


Dr. Nicholas Buchanan: Ethics in Science and Technology

(Course Number 00LE62VS-LAS-CO0027)

We live in a world saturated with science and technology. No longer confined to the rarefied worlds of universities, laboratories, or the research and development departments of high-tech companies, science and technology instead pervade our everyday lives. In the process, the ethical issues associated with science and technology have come to affect us all, in nearly every corner of daily existence. They may very well have become the ethics of everyday life.

In this course, we will examine the ethics of science and technology not as a prescribed set of “dos and don’ts” intended exclusively for scientists and engineers, but instead as a dynamic, ever-changing social system for understanding and governing the relationship between society, science, and technology. We will do so by analyzing historical and contemporary ethical issues in science and technology, how ethics have changed over time, and how they will continue to change. We will pay special attention to the idea that ethics are a way to mediate power relationships among individuals, organizations, and the state, as well as to the difficult question of assessing responsibility in a complex, global, and techno-scientific world. The course covers three broad ethical areas, including

a) science, technology, and the state;

b) the politicization of biology and life itself; and

c) environmental change.

In addition, we will discuss why it sometimes feels that technologies are running out of control; how science and technology have been used to both free and oppress; why experts disagree and what this means; and what constitutes “deviance” (and why deviance is not always bad).

Students will gain the ability to analyze and critique multiple viewpoints in ethical controversies; to understand these conflicts in their historical contexts; to identify situations in which ethical issues are likely to arise; and to investigate who (or what) bears responsibility for both scientific breakthroughs and technological disasters.

 

Summer Semester 2016

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Knowledge in Context

(Course Number 00LE62VS-LAS-CO0020)

This course introduces students to a broad consideration of knowledge in its historical, social, political and practical contexts. Drawing on work in the history, anthropology and sociology of knowledge, the course addresses knowledge production and circulation beyond academia, as well as knowledge transfers in and across professional fields, educational systems, regions, cultures, and knowledge regimes. It aims at fostering reflection about questions such as "What counts as knowledge? What has counted as knowledge in previous centuries? What is (or what was) the relationship between scientific knowledge and knowledge that is (was) not deemed scientific, as, for example, common sense knowledge, or the knowledge of non-academic professional fields, or knowledge produced and used by political entities?" We will discuss historical examples and theoretical perspectives, such as social constructivist or cognitive theories, and take an ethnographic perspective onto knowledge in everyday life.

 

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Science in Context

(Course Number 00LE62VS-LAS-CO0017)

This course introduces students to classical and recent approaches in Science Studies. To my understanding, STS (Science and Technology Studies) and HPS (History and Philosophy of Science) both contribute to Science Studies. Science Studies is an interdisciplinary field that draws from anthropology, sociology, political sciences, philosophy, history and cultural studies to explore what counts as scientific knowledge and why, and how science and technology intervene in (and interact with) the wider world. It allows students to reflect upon their involvement in science and technology, to develop a critical understanding of the role of science and technology in the world, and to consider the impact and implications of their own work for society.

In the common picture of science, science creates and accumulates knowledge by confronting the natural world, and it makes progress because of its systematic method. According to this narrative, different scientists should perform an experiment similarly; scientists should be able to agree on important questions and considerations; and most importantly, different scientists considering the same evidence should accept and reject the same hypotheses. Scientists should be able to agree on truths about the natural world. Contrasting with these widespread assumptions, the course starts from the assumption that science is a thoroughly social activity. It is social in that scientists are always members of communities, trained into the practices of these communities and necessarily working with them. These communities set standards for inquiry and evaluate knowledge claims.

The course starts from basic tenets of Science Studies scholars, such as:

• Knowledge has a history (or, in fact, multiple histories)

• Knowledge is embedded in practices

• Knowledge is a social endeavour

• Knowledge is involved in struggles for power

• Knowledge is controversial, negotiated, and stabilized

• Knowledge oscillates between the local and the universal

• Knowledge emerges in transfers.

The course regards scientific knowledge as socially shaped; however, this does not mean that scientific knowledge is not correct. Yet instead of prioritizing questions such as „Which knowledge is a good truth claim“ or „valid/unvalid“, or „false/correct“, the course encourages students to ask questions such as „How is scientific knowledge produced, negotiated, stabilized, and circulated?“ – „How does scientific knowledge shape our life worlds?“ – „What does it mean to live in a knowledge based society?“ – „What are the gaps between data and truth claim? How do scientists decide for a specific way to overcome them?“ and, oriented towards social, ethical and political relevance: „If it is unavoidable to base decisions on knowledge, how can one deal with knowledge in a reflected and responsible way?“ – „How (if at all) can we resolve conflicts between competing truth claims; how can we make decisions in the light of competing truth claims?“

 

Winter Semester 2015/2016

Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Responsibility and Leadership in Academia

(Course Number 00LE62VS-LAS-CO0015)

This course introduces students to the many facets and challenges of responsibility and leadership in academia. It aims to provide academic insights into the critical discourse around these issues, as well as reflections on and applicable skills for responsible behaviour in academic environments. Both leadership and community building will be analyzed in their relevance for shaping the social and intellectual world of academia and beyond. By analyzing, comparing and contrasting different approaches to leadership and responsibility in academia as discussed in the literature, students acquire the competency to critically evaluate various models of leadership in academia.

The course will be focussing on six specific topics: Gender and Diversity; Economics; Ethics of Science; Misconduct; Uncertainty; Leadership Models. For at least four of these, invited speakers will bring in first-hand expertise.

 

Sarah Fründt: Museums and Sensitive Objects

(Course Number 00LE62S-LAS-CH0012)

Museums are often considered “windows to science”, as they present research results, research objects, original sources as well as a discipline’s very own set of assumptions, theories, methods, and historical developments to the interested public. In science, one of the most important ethical questions usually revolves around the notion: Is science allowed to do everything? By proxy the same questions can be asked about museums: are they allowed to own everything they do, show everything they can, tell every story they want? What are their responsibilities? Fueled by international decolonization, especially anthropological museums have been heavily criticized over the last decades. Not only for constructing an image of indigenous peoples that is far away from reality, but also for owning and presenting certain types of objects, such as human remains, sacred items, burial goods, items of cultural significance and other so called “sensitive objects”. In reaction, museum practice is slowly changing and guidelines (and in some cases also legal solutions) appear.

In this course we will look at three interconnected topics:

a) the current debate on repatriation and restitution of human remains and other museums objects,

b) the question if sensitive objects can/should be used for research?

c) the question if sensitive objects can/should be presented in exhibitions?

Teaching will include a theoretical and historical introduction to the topic, complemented by a number of documentary films. A number of sessions will then be used for student presentations of case studies and their discussion. Active engagement with these case studies (including contacting people involved) will be encouraged.

 

Summer Semester 2015


Prof. Dr. Veronika Lipphardt: Knowledge in Context. An Introduction to Science Studies