Anthropology 455: An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies


Spring 2006

Room SH560

Mondays 2-5


  • Christopher Kelty, ckelty (at) rice (dot) edu, SH580


This class is an introduction to the field of ``Science and Technology Studies.'' The premise of this class is that science and technology are an integral part of contemporary societies -- just as culture, politics and economics are built in to contemporary science. Science, technology and society may therefore be analyzed together, using methods and theories of the social sciences and humanities. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of this interdisciplinary field by reading research and theoretical works drawn from anthropology, history, sociology and philosophy; some of the major innovations in the field will be studied in depth. The class will simultaneously analyze examples and problems that illustrate how to apply these works to the contemporary world. Examples will span a wide range of disciplines from computer science to biomedicine, but no prior scientific knowledge or technical expertise is assumed. The goal is for students to become skilled at analyzing science and technology from a social and cultural standpoint, and to cross some of the assumed and traditional boundaries between scientists, humanists and social scientists.

Open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students.

Requirements: Students are required to attend all classes, complete all reading assignments, and participate in discussion. Depending on the size of the class, students will write reading response papers each week or every other week, and will be expected to read the responses of the other students. One book review assignment will be due after spring break.

Required Texts (at the Bookstore):

  • Bruno Latour,Science in Action, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.

  • Steven Shapin and Simon Shaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.

  • Mario Biagioli, ed. The Science Studies Reader, New York: Routledge, 1999.

  • Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott, Michael Gibbons Rethinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty, Malden MA: Polity Press, 2001.

  • Aihwa Ong and Stephen J. Collier eds.Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics As Anthropological Problems, Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2005.

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Christopher Kelty
Last modified: Sun Jan 12 12:47:19 CST 2003