Science, Technology, Environment, and Time

History 285S.001

Spring 2017
Section: 
001
Instructor: 
Location: 
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 10-12
Class Number: 
16323
Units: 
4

This is a project-based research practicum for graduate students who want hands-on supervised experience working out answers to two general sorts of questions about science (including social science), technology, and the environment in relation to time:

  • What were things like in the past?
  • How do things change over time?

Historians have developed a collection of strategies for tackling these non-trivial questions. We will play them out in relation to individual research challenges around science (broadly understood), technology, and the environment since the late 18th century, each of which domains raises its own questions about time. The approach to temporality in this seminar will be historical, but in a broad-minded way that should be accessible to students in disciplines outside history who are willing to put in the time to learn about how practicing historians work. Questions anchored in the present with a historical or temporal aspect are fair game.

Our approach will balance individual and collective work. Each seminar participant will work on a research problem or project from their own area, in the company of others, sharing experiences and reflections. (I will be doing the same thing.) Students are encouraged to bring in methodological issues (especially around time) appropriate to their own field of research. The classical form of output will be a seminar paper of 30 to 50 pages, prototyping an academic journal article. Other forms of output can be negotiated: a digital humanities project, a briefing memo, etc. Prospective students with questions are welcome to contact the instructor (clcarson(at)berkeley.edu) after Nov. 15.