Science Socially Constructed

History 103S.002

Fall 2012
Day & Time: 
F 10-12P
Daniel Robert is a PhD candidate in American history/history of science & technology at UC Berkeley and is writing an environmental, technological, and political economic history of electrical power in California from 1879 to 1929.

Scientists and technologists from Archimedes to Zuckerberg have had an enormous influence on the societies of which they were a part. Yet, even as these individuals influenced society, they were also influenced by it and embedded within it. Through a study of the current historiography, this course will examine the links between scientists, technologists, and societies of the past and explore how science and technology—supposedly so objectively factual—can still be historicized as a social construct just like anything else. How have specific historical periods, with their religious, political, and economic aspects, affected the scientific claims and technological devices made during that period? How have these claims and devices been received, reconstituted, or rejected by other members of society, and why? By examining how historians of science and technology have answered these questions, students will develop the analytical and methodological techniques to apply to their own topics of interest. Like science and technology, readings will not be constrained by national boundaries, but will range across European, American, and colonial contexts. The time period covered will be wide-ranging but the theme consistent. Requirements include intellectual engagement with weekly readings, participation in discussion, and a final paper due at the end of the semester, which can be used to explore a 101 topic.