Undergraduate Course: Controversies in Medicine, Technology and the Environment (STIS10009)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The course offers a range of analytical tools to address controversies, broadly understood as any instance of disagreement around scientific, technological, medical or environmental issues. Students will be exposed to different methods that will enable them to better understand how the actors involved in the controversies and their arguments evolve over time. By introducing historical, sociological, philosophical and political science perspectives, we seek to help students overcome simplistic views of controversies as easily solvable debates between truth and falsehood. We also present controversies as involving actors outside the scientific community and reflect on normative agendas for not only studying but also critically intervening in controversies. Each method will be illustrated with concrete examples from the literature on Science and Technology Studies. At the end of each session, students will be able to test the methodologies by collaboratively analysing the controversy around the cloning of Dolly the sheep.
Each week introduces a different set of analytical tools for examining controversies, illustrated by empirical cases. Approaches for studying controversies include Actor Network Theory, historical sociology, Social Network Analysis, feminist theories of science and technology, discourse and frame analysis, and Deleuzian philosophy. Case studies include fracking, ecofeminism, cold fusion, the Challenger launch decision and the cloning of Dolly the sheep, among others.
The course is taught through lectures followed by practical symposia. Students are required to complete two readings per week in advance of the lecture. Lectures provide students with a rich background to the readings (i.e. they do not duplicate the readings) and broaden students┐ repertoire of empirical cases. Discussion of the readings enables a deeper understanding of both the conceptual tools and empirical cases.
During the practical symposia, students will apply the analytical tools they learn each week to the controversy around the cloning of Dolly the sheep. They are encouraged to engage with the controversy, including adopting competing perspectives in order to develop their critical skills and ability to convey complex ideas to an informed audience.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Assignment 1: An essay applying at least one of the methodologies of analysis to a controversy of your choice (up to 3000 words, 75% marks).
Assignment 2: Students will choose between a) a blogpost, or b) a policy brief in which they will critically analyse a controversy of their choice and convey this analysis to an informed, non-academic audience (1500-2000 words, 25% marks).
||All students will be invited to submit an abstract prior to the deadline for each assignment and, if they do so, will receive feedback from the course organiser. The aim of the assessment is to allow you to develop your own ideas and topics, demonstrate your ability to analyse and synthesise relevant issues, as well as drawing on evidence and applying relevant literature.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Understand the principal theories and concepts used to analyse controversies
- Review the work of Science and Technology Studies scholars on scientific, technological, medical and environmental controversies
- Use at least two of the methodologies/analytical approaches to a controversy of their choice
- Critically evaluate and consolidate knowledge in their chosen controversy
- Convey the above to an informed, non-academic audience
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||Controversies; Medicine; Sociology; Science and Technology Studies; Policy; Public Engagement
|Course organiser||Dr Miguel Garcia Sancho Sanchez
Tel: (0131 6)50 6518
|Course secretary||Mr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197