Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology (syllabus for 2015 graduate course)

Many links won’t work because they point to a blog accessible only to the students in the course.

Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology

A Problem-Based Learning Approach

Spring 2015

Graduate Consortium of Women’s Studies

I. Quick access to key information and links to bookmark on your browser

followed by

  • II. Information to get started, orient yourself at the start of the course, and refer back to from time to time.
  • III. Contract: Course requirements and assessment.
  • IV. Schedule of classes: What is expected each session and why — how each session contributes to the unfolding of the course. (This section starts with links to specific sessions).
  • V. Bibliography (with links to pdfs)
  • POST-IT the start of each component in your printed version of this syllabus
Instructors Peter Taylor, UMass Boston Programs in Critical & Creative Thinking Program, Public Policy, and Science in a Changing World, peter.taylor@umb.edu, Office hours before class, Bldg 7 Rotunda, by signup:http://ptaylor.wikispaces.umb.edu/PTOfficeHours
and
Kim Surkan, Women’s and Gender Studies, MIT, ksurkan@MIT.EDU, Office hours TBA
Class time & location Bldg 1-134; Thursdays 4-7pm, 2/5-5/14

  • Spring break varies among campuses so access-from-a-distance to class 7A and 8 will be possible and class 7B does not require students’ physical presence. Arrangements may be made for snow day meetings on google hangout (set-up instructions)
Glitches in online materials — report using this form
Blog http://grst15.wordpress.com BOOKMARK THIS!

  • Access this syllabus and links (on top and on top right) to key pages, including session by session instructions, PBL cases, readings, and instruction on assignments and participation items.
  • Post reflections on the course process, annotated bibliography entries, visual aids for presentations, draft and revised products from cases, peer comments, and whatever else seems appropriate to share.
  • Access to Bibliographies, Evaluations and other materials from past offerings of the course.

II. Information to get started, orient yourself, and refer back to from time to time

Description

What can we learn about science and technology—and what can we do with that knowledge? Who are “we” in these questions?—whose knowledge and expertise gets made into public policy, new medicines, topics of cultural and political discourse, science education, and so on? How can expertise and lay knowledge about science and technology be reconciled in a democratic society? How can we make sense of the interactions of living and non-living, humans and non-humans, individual and collectivities in the production of scientific knowledge and technologies?

The course takes these questions as entry points into an ever-growing body of work to which feminist, anti-racist, and other critical analysts and activists have made significant contributions. The course also takes these questions as an invitation to practice challenging the barriers of expertise, gender, race, class, and place that restrict wider access to and understanding of the production of scientific knowledge and technologies.
To prepare yourself to challenge such barriers the course provides an opportunity to re-engage with yourself as an avid learner and inquirer. What makes this re-engagement possible is a combination of:

  • the tools and processes used for inquiry, dialogue, reflection, and collaboration;
  • the connections we make among the diverse participants who bring diverse interests, skills, knowledge, experience, and aspirations to the course; and
  • our contributions to the topics laid out in the scenarios from which each problem-based learning (PBL) case begins. PBL is an approach that allows you to shape your own directions of inquiry and develop your skills as investigators and prospective teachers. At the same time the PBL units engage your critical faculties as you learn about existing analyses of gender, race, and the complexities of science and technology–learning is guided by individualized bibliographies co-constructed with the instructors, by the projects of the other students, and by your own reflection on the experience.

Students from all fields and levels of preparation are encouraged to join the course.

Overview

We are familiar with there being fields of art and literary criticism, but, despite the importance of science and technology in society, “science criticism” is not a widely accepted enterprise. With the goal of promoting a wider range of engagements in science and technology, this course stimulates interdisciplinary inquiry, pedagogical, conceptual and practical innovation, and epistemological self-consciousness through provocative PBL cases that put into play a variety of resources. These resources might include: the diverse interests, skills, commitments, and passions of the instructors and the students; annotated bibliographies, syllabi, and review essays—especially material contributed by feminist, anti-racist, and other critical analysts of science and technology; the rich personal and intellectual connections made easier in this internet age; and the instructors’ experience in stretching students beyond disciplinary and conceptual boundaries. The last course project provides the opportunity for you to develop your own cases for teaching, prepare grant proposals for further inquiry or activist engagement, or construct syllabi around topics in feminist and critical studies of science and technology.

Throughout the semester we navigate between, on one side, your divergent, reticulating explorations of the implications that each of you sees in the cases and, on the other side, adisciplining of these explorations by building audiences and collaborations around individual and shared knowledges and tools. You also navigate between generating a product for each case and practicing processes of reflection, dialogue, and articulation of identity(/ies). These different aspects of the course experience are animated by a profound question of practice: “What can we do with the knowledge we generate for ourselves and others.” Of course, what can we do depends on who “we” identify with (which field, discipline, research project, social group, level of expertise…). The question also requires us to convince some audience of our knowledge claims and of the value of our questions for further inquiry. To that end you have to address the bodies of substantive knowledge most relevant to your individual inquiries (guided by review essays in anthologies/handbooks, original scientific literature and informants identified by the instructors) and to translate that knowledge into terms digestible by to the rest of us with different levels of expertise around diverse (sometimes divergent) bodies of knowledge.

The PBL approach taken in this course makes the schedule of classes look incomplete—it doesn’t meet conventional expectations of weekly topics, readings, and pre-defined assignments. Browsing the links on the blog will give some feel for what might lie ahead, but the essence of the course is that we make the road as we travel. Of course, now we have done this before in the Graduate Consortium, we can show future students what happened previous times. But each offering, each collaboration of students will result in a unique construction.

Key Texts

Required:
Hackett, E., O. Amsterdamska, et al., Eds. (2008). The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press. (If your library has it available on ebrary, there’s no need to get a printed copy.)

Recommended as sources to borrow from a library or refer to in the GCWS office (Building 14N Room 211, MIT), where there are copies:
Clarke, A. (2005). Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory after the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage.
Creager, A., E. Lunbeck, et al., Eds. (2001). Feminism in Twentieth-Century Science, Technology, and Medicine. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Kleinman, D. L. and K. Moore, Eds. (2014). Routledge Handbook of Science, Technology, and Society. Abingdon: Routledge.
Law, J. and A. Mol, Eds. (2002). Complexities: Social Studies of Knowledge Practices. Durham, Duke University Press.
McNeil, M. (2007). Feminist cultural studies of science and technology. London: Routledge.

Recommended as a source for the process side of the course:
Taylor, P., J. Szteiter (2012) Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement. Arlington: The Pumping Station (online as paperback or pdf fromhttp://thepumpingstation.org/books or as paperback from other online booksellers)

ACCOMMODATIONS: Sections 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 offer guidelines for curriculum modifications and adaptations for students with documented disabilities. The student must present any adaptation recommendations to the professors within a reasonable period, preferably by the end of the Drop/Add period.

Students are advised to retain a copy of this syllabus in personal files for use when applying for certification, licensure, or transfer credit.

This syllabus is subject to change, but workload expectations will not be increased after the semester starts. (Version 30 Jan 15)

III. Contract: Course requirements and assessment

Requirements

A sequence of written assignments (which will average 800 words) and presentations on the PBL cases leading up to the last course project. Options for this last project include piloting PBL cases that students write (with the class serving as their students); a grant proposal (students get a chance to present drafts of grant proposals with the class serving as the jury); a course syllabus; or something else (by prior arrangement).

Participation requirements include active participation based on preparation and PBL inquiry between classes, interaction between classes through the blog, office hour conferences with instructors on your assignments and projects, commenting on each other’s drafts at least 3 times, submitting reflections on your experience of the process at least 5 times, and adding an annotated reference to the evolving bibliography on the blog at least 8 times.

It is expected that you will spend 6-8 hours per week outside class time reading, researching, reflecting, and writing. The course works by building from one case to the next so not being prepared or late submissions detract significantly from the learning possible in class sessions.

Grading: An unconventional assessment system complements the innovative pedagogy. The written assignments are commented on but not graded. The assignment is recorded as completed after you revise thoughtfully and resubmit in response to comments received on the initial submission from your peers and one or both instructors. You keep track of your submissions and revisions on your own copy of the assignment checklist. This system keeps the focus on interaction around written work and the presentations that emerge from participation in the unfolding dynamics of the course. The assessment system also accommodates the contingencies of your lives by allowing a fraction of assignments to be skipped without penalty. If you complete 80% of the written assignments and presentations (=10 of 13) and 80% of participation items (=30 of 37) you get 80 points for an automatic B+ and theRubric below is used to assign B+, A- or A. If you miss that target 5 points are assigned for each assignment submitted, revised in response to comments, or presentation made up to 48 points max; 1 point each participation item completed up to 32 max. Minimum points for each letter grade: A, 95; A-, 87.5; B+, 80; B, 72.5; B-, 65; C+, 57.5; C, 50.

Written assignments and presentations (3/5 of grade): Details are provided with each PBL case.

Participation and contribution to the class process (2/5 of grade): Additional details are provided on the links below or the Instructions page for the blog.
a. Attendance and Participation in class meetings based on Preparation between classes, including required reading (=14 items)

  • incl. punctuality, succinct sharing (when requested) at the start of class of highlights of readings and annotations added to the wiki, no cell phone calls

b. Syllabus “Treasure Hunt”, including posting and commenting on Learning Profiles by week 2
c. Annotated reference or resource (=person, organization…) added (regularly, not all in a clump) to the evolving bibliography on the blog (=8 items)

  • Annotations should convey the article’s key points as well as its connection to the student’s own inquiries and interests. Examples from past years are provided. Prepare first on your computer, then copy and paste the annotated reference into blog. Specify the category Bibliography.

d. Reflection on your experience of the course process and/or substantive contribution to discussion on the blog (5 items)

  • Interaction between class meetings is especially important in this course because we are based on different campuses and because of the evolving nature of the PBL experience. Specify the category ProcessReflection.

e. Minimum of two in-person or phone conferences on your assignments and projects–one before session 5, the other, with the other instructor before session 10 (= 2 items)

  • These are important for checking in, taking stock, getting a recharge, ensuring timely resolution of misunderstandings, and opening up significant issues about one’s relationship to the course material and objectives. If you are falling behind, conferences are especially important.

f. Exercises to prepare for class (in comments on designated blog posts, for sessions 2, 4, 7, 8; 4 items)
g. Peer commentary on other students’ draft products (3 times, by the session after posting; 3 items)

  • To indicate that you are commenting on a posted draft, insert your name using the “leave a comment” or reply option. Insert the commentary within 5 days in the same place. (Don’t comment on a draft if someone else already is, unless there are no others to comment on. Also, try to find a draft from someone you have not commented on before.)
  • To get the kinds of response you need, state what you are looking for at the top of your draft.

h. Assignment Checklist filled-in during semester and submitted with self-assessment on the rubric at the last session (1 item).
Bonus item: Participate in 4/23, 7-8.30pm Interactive lecture at the Cambridge Science Festival, MIT 1-134.

Rubric
If you qualify for an automatic B+, you get 80 points and the rubric to follow is used at the end of the course to add points (to move above a B+). For each quality “fulfilled very well” you get 2 additional points. If you “did an OK job, but there was room for more development/attention,” you get 1 point. If “to be honest, this was not fulfilled,” you get 0 points. Submit your own self-assessment with the assignment checklist in the last class.

  • 1. A sequence of assignments paced more or less as in syllabus (and revisions timely),
  • 2. often revised thoroughly and with new thinking in response to comments.
  • 3. Projects innovative, well planned and carried out with considerable initiative, and
    • 4. indicate that you can extend tools and processes from the course to your specific situation so as to better “subvert the barriers of expertise, gender, race, class, and place that restrict wider access to the production of scientific knowledge and technology.”
  • 5. Written assignments and report on final course product clear and well structured,
    • 6. with supporting references and detail, and professionally presented.
  • 7. Active, prepared participation and building class as learning community, including
    • 8. leading or participation in student-student activities and helpful peer comments on drafts,
    • 9. reflections and discussion on the course process, contributed to the blog, and
    • 10. well-annotated contributions to evolving bibliography.

IV. Schedule of classes: What is expected each session and why — how each session contributes to the unfolding of the course

Classes will generally begin with a warm-up and check-in, e.g., sharing of highlights of reflections and annotations added to the blog or a reflective activity, except weeks 1, 14, and weeks when there are presentations.

Week 1, 2/5, Introductions: The basic rhythm and experience of the course introduced by instructors and alums. Everyone begins to get to know each others’ interests
Preparation:
Obtain required texts
Take a first look at PBL (Project-based learning)
Review evaluations from previous offerings
Bring laptop or tablet (if you have one) and activate connection to MIT wifi.
Session:
1a. PBL and the rhythm of the course
1b. Very brief overview of the four cases that make up the course
1c. Carry over from one case to next, or beyond the course? —depends on experiences as well as tangible outcomes (image)
2. Opening up questions, a 60-minute case: Making connections from near and far in place, time, practice, and culture
(Opening up = today & homework; Shaping connections to focus in = next class, in which the first case will be laid out.)

  • a. Note that this activity and the course as whole is about gender, race, and the complexities of science and technology. In the spirit of complex connections, introducing Eric Wolf’saccount of changes in the Mundurucu in the Amazon as rubber began to be used in Europe in C19 shows how people very distant in space can have their cultures profoundly shifted by connections, especially those made around new technologies and the commodities they give rise to.
  • b. Activity (for guest alums of the course as well as current students): Place the description of the video at http://papertiger.org/node/751 in a wide context by tracing connections from near and from far in place, time, practice, and culture. (Don’t watch the video at this point. Following your own interests and curiosity, use the internet to learn more about who, when, where, why, what led to this video for the different players involved, what followed from this, and so on. Use the blackboard to put up post-its recording what you find out and what further questions arise.) [Photo to be taken of emerging map of connections]

3. Refreshments & Getting to know people bingo, http://wp.me/p1gwfa-gS

  • where the cells of the bingo include items that students can talk about regarding their own background etc. + the connections they have drawn for #2b + questions about the course experience to share with peers and get perspective on from alums.

4a. Reassurance: There will be a Focusing In phase next week after the Opening Up of this session and prep for session 2.
4b. First look at 4Rs (Taylor et al. 2011) and Probe-Connect-Create Change-Reflect frameworks for building a supportive community for learning.
4c. Walk through links needed for preparation for session 2, which includes:

  • Syllabus “Treasure Hunt”, including posting Learning Profile and commenting on those of others.
  • Blog (including Blogging instructions for posting)
  • PBL Case 1
  • KQ exercise on inquiries (part. item f1)
  • Reading and preparation for Check-in = 1-minute report on a reading

5. Critical Incident Questionnaire (submitted online at http://bit.ly/CIQ1e or on paper)

Week 2, 2/12, Case 1–Moving from Ks & Qs on 60-minute case from session 1 to Qs for do-able inquiry related to Case 1
Preparation:
Complete syllabus “treasure hunt” to acquaint yourself with, and raise questions about, requirements, the blog, and the syllabus, as well as interact around Learning Profiles.
Take a first look at PBL guided tour
Read Case 1, “In what ways can we learn to teach/engage others to interpret the cultural dimensions of science?”
Read Haraway, Teddy bear patriarchy
WORK DUE: Identify questions for further inquiry (participation item f1).
Bring laptop if you have one
Session:
Warm-up: Small group discussion of questions raised about requirements, the syllabus, the wiki, etc.
Whole-class discussion of questions raised from small groups
Check-in (=succinct reports) on findings from inquiry between classes or required reading
Introduction to KAQ
Workshop on designing the resource guide required by case 1
Plus-Delta review of session 2

Week 3, 2/19, Case 1 (completed). Presentation of Guides for Teaching/Engaging Others to Interpret the Cultural Dimensions of Science
Preparation:
Prepare Guides for teaching/engaging others to interpret the cultural dimensions of science.
WORK DUE: Presentation=Asmt. 1; Guide = Asmt. 2
Session:
Warm-up: Supportive listening on readiness—or otherwise—to give presentation
Presentations
Each presentation followed by Plus-Delta response

Week 4, 2/26, Responding to Case 2 & In-class research with coaching by the instructors
Preparation:
Read Case 2, “Case-based learning as a productive approach to generating wider engagement in the production of science and technology,” read Werskey’s article (referred to in the case), do warm up, complete initial KAQs, and post selections on the blog.
WORK DUE: KAQs (Part. item f2; Peer comments on draft guide (for 3 of 4 cases during semester = Part. item g)
Bring laptop if you have one
Session:
Dialogue Hour Process (includes Warm-up) on responses to case 2 and inquiry on that case
Probing each other’s KAQs

Week 5, 3/5, Case 2 (cont.) Presentations on work-in-progress towards GCWS panel visit
Preparation:
Continue research and prepare work-in-progress presentations.

  • Preparing work-in-progress presentations, hearing yourself deliver them, and getting feedback usually leads to self-clarification of the overall direction of your project and of your priorities for further work.

Read Moore, K., D. L. Kleinman, et al. (2011). “Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach.” Theory and Society 40: 505–532.
WORK DUE: Revision of Asmt. 2 in response to comments
Work-in-progress presentation (Asmt. 3) (during class)
First instructor conference before class 5 (=participation item e)
Annotated references or resources, two expected by class 5 (=participation item c)
Reflections on course, one expected by class 5 (=participation item d)
Session:
Warm-up: Supportive listening on readiness—or otherwise—to give W-I-P presentation
Work-in-progress presentations, each followed by Plus-Delta responses

Week 6, 3/12, Case 2 (completed.) Presentations to the GCWS Panel with Q&A on process and products
Preparation:
Continue research and prepare presentations to the GCWS Panel.
Read Heintzman, Love in the time of STS (=a product from Case 2 in 2013)
WORK DUE: Presentation=Asmt. 4; Product = Asmt. 5
Session:
Presentations
Each presentation followed by Plus-Delta response
Mid-semester evaluation (<a href=”Critical Incident Questionnaire) (Responses to be posted to the blog)

Spring break varies among campuses so access-from-a-distance to class 7A and 8 will be possible and class 7B does not require students’ physical presence.

Week 7A, 3/19 Case 3, Initial thinking by students
Preparation:
Begin case 3, “TBA”
Read Chapter 3 in Clarke, A. (2005). Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory after the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
WORK DUE: Situational maps on TBA (Part. item f3)
Peer comments on draft Case 2 product (for 3 of 4 cases during semester = participation item g)
Session:
Warm-up: Format TBA (according to student preference)
Check-in (=succinct reports) on findings from inquiry between classes or required reading
Presentation and discussion of situational maps made by students.
Discussion of methods of further inquiry for the case

Week 7B, 3/26, Progress report on inquiry for Case 3

  • = in office hours or on blog post & check-in with one of the instructors (in office hours or by phone) about case 3.

Preparation:
Continue research on case 3
Read TBA
WORK DUE: Case 2 Product (=Asmt. 5) revised in response to comments

Week 8, 4/2, Instructors’ work related to Case 3
Preparation:
Read TBA (Taylor, P. J. (2009). “Infrastructure and Scaffolding”?)
Session:
Check-in (=succinct reports) on findings from inquiry between classes or required reading
Kim’s and Peter’s mini-lectures related to Case 3: TBA

Week 9, 4/9 On PBL as a feminist pedagogy (a rapid PBL while inquiry for case 3 continues)
Preparation:
Continue research on case 3
Look ahead to Case 4, which needs volunteers to present on week 11
Readings for Week 8 Rapid PBL (below).

Bring laptop if you have one
Session:
Warm-up: Freewrite then share in Pair then Small group mini-dialogue
Rapid PBL: “Building on the experience of this course, formulate six principles or questions for developing a feminist and/or anti-racist pedagogy about science”

  • By the end of the session (or very soon after), post principles or questions as a comment/reply to the relevant blog (= participation item f4)


Week 10, 4/16 Case 3 (completed), Presentations
Preparation:
Read TBA
WORK DUE: Asmt. 6; TBA = asmt. 7
Session:
Presentations
Each presentation followed by Plus-Delta response

Weeks 11-13, Practice presentations for final projects

  • = grant proposals, teaching cases, syllabi, curriculum units, etc.
  • For students who present in the early weeks, the expectation that your project will not be as developed as for students who present later.
  • The class will act as a jury to review and ask questions on any grant proposal. Presenters of cases/syllabi/units should use their time slot for a mini- activity and discussion.

Week 11, 4/23 Practice presentations for final projects
Preparation:
Start final projects, post paragraph overview of project by 4/20, and sign up on designated blog post for Practice presentation for final project (Presentation =Asmt 8)
Prepare for other students’ practice presentation as requested in materials they pre-circulate on the blog.
Second instructor conference before class 11 (=participation item e)
WORK DUE: Peer comments on draft Case 3 product (for 3 of 4 cases during semester = participation item g)
Session:
Warm-up: Format TBA (according to student preference)
Practice Presentations
Each presentation followed by Plus-Delta response

Interactive lecture, as part of Cambridge Science Festival, “50 whys to look for genes: Pros and complications”
4/23, 7-8.30pm, in same place as the classroom

Week 12, 4/30 Practice presentations for final projects
Preparation:
WORK DUE: Case 3 Product (=Asmt 7) revised in response to comments
Session:
Warm-up: Format TBA (according to student preference)
Practice Presentations
Each presentation followed by Plus-Delta response
Week 13, 5/7 Practice presentations for final projects
Preparation:
WORK DUE: Asmt. 9 = Draft report for instructor and peer commentary, posted to same post as the paragraph overview.
Session:
Warm-up: Format TBA (according to student preference)
Practice Presentations
Each presentation followed by Plus-Delta response

Week 14, 5/14. Taking stock of course: Where have we come & where do we go from here?
Preparation:
Peer commentary due on draft final project report (= last chance for participation item g)
Assignment checklist submitted (=participation item h)
Bring laptop if you have one
Session:
Dialogue Process
Final course evaluation GRSTeval.doc (or online TBA)

5/21
WORK DUE: Post final products (Asmt. 9), revised in response to comments on draft.

V. Bibliography

in development
Clarke, A. (2005). Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory after the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, Chapter 3
Haraway, D. J. (1989) “Teddy bear patriarchy: Taxidermy in the garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-1936,” in Primate visions (originally published in 1984/5 in Social Text 11: 20-64)
Heintzman, K. (2013). Love in the time of STS.
Moore, K., D. L. Kleinman, et al. (2011). “Science and neoliberal globalization: a political sociological approach.” Theory and Society 40: 505–532.
Taylor, P. J. (2009). “Infrastructure and Scaffolding: Interpretation and Change of Research Involving Human Genetic Information.” Science as Culture 18(4): 435-459.
Taylor, P. J. (2012) “Teaching and Learning for Reflective Practice,” p. 240-259 in Taylor and Szetiter (2012)
Werskey, G. (2007). “The Marxist Critique of Capitalist Science: A History in Three Movements?” Science as Culture 16(4): 397-462.

Contributions from students 2009, 2011, and 2013 & 2015.
Other bibliographic resources 2009, 2011 (feminist epistemology).

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