Science, Technology, and Society

History 182A/AT

Spring 2018
2040 VLSB (Valley Life Sciences)
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-3:30
Class Number: 

Where do modern science and technology come from? How and why do they change? How is their credibility established — or challenged — in modern societies? How do they interact with the rest of our culture? The course examines these and other related questions using historical case studies from different periods. We shall discuss the emergence of science as a defining dimension of modernity, and its relations to other cultural traditions such as magic, religion, and art. We shall pay particular attention to the evolution of artifacts and technological systems such as industrial machinery, weapons, computers, and contraceptives. The aim of the course is for you to learn about how science and technology shape the way we live and, especially, how they are invariably shaped by historical and social circumstances. At the end of the course, you will be able to think historically about science and technology, and thus engage effectively with questions of technoscientific change — or lack thereof.

The course draws approaches and materials from both STEM and the social sciences. Throughout, we emphasize historical development. Scientific ideas and technological artifacts are not timeless, and they did not drop from the sky. A main course goal is to practice thinking historically; assignments and examinations call on those skills. The course is aimed at students of all majors; no scientific knowledge is presupposed.

Running parallel to History 182A is History 182T, intended for students interested in teaching elementary or secondary school science and math. Students in the "T" course will attend the regular 182A lectures and a special section; this section will focus on techniques, skills, and perspectives necessary to apply the history of science in the juvenile and adolescent science classroom, including pedagogy, devising lesson plans for their classrooms, finding reliable historical information, and writing. History 182T satisfies a requirement for the Cal Teach minor and counts toward a State of California teaching credential. If you are interested in History 182T, please contact Jessica Jones ( Cal Teach enrollment starts in mid-October with Phase I enrollment for Spring 2018.