Anthropology of Science, Technology, and the Environment

Download 25.1 Kb.
Date conversion10.07.2018
Size25.1 Kb.
Anthr 230

Anthropology of Science, Technology, and the Environment

Winter 2006

Tuesday/Thursday 11 am -12:20 pm

TL B 1

Professor Kathleen Lowrey Teaching Assistant Michelle Borowitz

13-5 Tory Building 13-11 Tory Building

492-2514 492-5899

Office hours: 1:30-3:30 Tu Thu 12:30-1:30 Tues, 11-12 Fri

& by appointment
In this course we examine the relationships between science and culture, technology and culture, and the environment and culture. We consider these relationships across time (from prehistory to the present) and across space (via select cross-cultural examples). Participants will complete the course with an anthropological understanding of the ways that science, technology, and the environment shape culture and of the ways that culture shapes science, technology, and the environment.


A coursepack is available for purchase at the University bookstore. Every course participant will come to every class session having done the assigned reading (if any) and ready to take attentive notes (especially on days when material will only be presented in lecture format). Additionally, course participants who are in the “discussion group” for a particular class session will come prepared to speak up and express thoughtful reactions to, questions about, or critical perspectives on, the reading for that session. Groups will be assigned a COLLECTIVE grade for the class-wide quality of discussion on their assigned day. The class will be divided into 12 groups with 15-20 members in each group. During the second class session, you will turn in a sheet indicating when you would prefer not to be scheduled, and you may indicate a first and second preference for what set of readings you would particularly like to discuss. We will prioritize the former restrictions and do our best to accommodate the latter ones.

Other than readings, all course assignments are in-class assignments. If you are unable to write any exercise, quiz, exam, or essay due to illness, you must obtain an absence slip signed by University Health Services or your physician and present it within two working days of the missed class. In case of absence due to family emergency or religious conviction, you must present an absence slip notarized by the Records Division, Examinations and Timetabling, Office of the Registrar. There will be no "make-up" assignments; instead, the weight of the excused assignments will be added to the weight of the final exam. Missed assignments that are not excused will receive a mark of zero.

If you are absent from the final exam due to illness or emergency you must apply to write a deferred final exam (see the University Calendar for fees and regulations governing Deferred Final Examinations.). Contact the Anthropology Department office (492-3879) to confirm your attendance and to obtain the date, time, and location of the exam. If you fail to write the final exam as scheduled and fail to apply to write the deferred final exam you will be assigned a mark of zero.


Discussion participation 15%

In-class exercise 5%

First quiz 5%

Midterm 25%

Second quiz 10%

In-class essay 15%

Final 25%

Total: 100%

Determination of final grades

The grading system is composed of letter grades (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, and F). According to the grading guidelines, a 200 level course should have a median (50th percentile) of B and a mean (average) of 2.83 out of 4. All assignments and examinations will be given a numerical grade, and the average reported when they are returned to students. At the end of the course, letter grades will be assigned using the recommended distribution: 5% A+, 7% A, 12% A-, 15% B+, 16% B, 14% B-, 11% C+, 8% C, 5% C-, 3% D+, and 2% F.

Specialized Support and Disability Services

Students who require accommodations due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support and Disability Services, 2-800 SUB / 492-3381 (telephone) or 492-7269 (TTY).

Academic Integrity

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour that could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Week 1 Introduction

Tuesday January 10th Course overview

Thursday January 12th Seife, Charles. “Nothing comes of nothing” and “Nothing ventured” (pp. 25-82) from Zero: The biography of a dangerous idea. HAND IN DISCUSSION PREFERENCES.
Week 2 The West and the Rest?

Tuesday January 17th Guest Lecturer: Mrs. Hafizah Yahya.

IN CLASS EXERCISE: using an abacus

Thursday January 19th Teresi, Dick. “Mathematics: the language of science” (pp.

21-79) from Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science – from the Babylonians to the Maya.

Week 3 Comparative knowledge systems

Tuesday January 24th Case study: the Khipu (selections from Marcia and Robert

Ascher, Code of the Quipu: pp. 12-35, 109-116, and 157-166). group 1

Thursday January 26th Magic, Science, and Religion Lecture & FIRST QUIZ

Week 4 The back-story

Tuesday January 30th Human origins. Gosden, Chris. “Continental Prehistories” (pp. 47-81) from Prehistory: A Very short Introduction group 2

Thursday February 2nd Human technologies. Bahn, Paul. “Technology, How did people live?, and How did people think?” (pp. 22-50) from Archaeology: a Very Short Introduction. group 3

Week 5 Innovation and mass culture

Tuesday February 7th Aura and authenticity. Benjamin, Walter “The Work of Art

in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (as excerpted in Garner). group 4

Thursday February 9th Consumerism and popular culture. Paul Rudnick and Kurt Andersen, “The irony epidemic: The dark side of Fiestaware and the Flintstones” Spy (March 1989). group 5


Tuesday February 14th Review session

Thursday February 16th MIDTERM EXAM
Week 7 Reading Week

Tuesday February 21st No class

Thursday February 23rd No class
Week 8 Science, modernism, and late modernism No reading.

Tuesday February 28th Geology, evolution, social statistics, relativity.


Thursday March 2nd Nuclear power, space exploration, climate change. Lecture

Week 9 Environment and environmentalisms

Tuesday March 7th Martinez-Alier, Joan. “Currents of Environmentalism” from Environmentalism of the Poor: A study in ecological conflicts and valuation. group 6

Thursday March 9th Basso, Keith. “’Speaking with names’: Language and landscape

among the Western Apache”.

Cultural Anthropology 3(2) May 1988: pp. 99-130. group 7
Week 10 The body: gender, race, and medical science

Tuesday March 14th Laqueur, Thomas. Pp. 1-19 of Making Sex: Body and gender from the Greeks to Freud. group 8

Thursday March 16th Jackson, Mark. “Changing depictions of disease: Race, representation, and the history of ‘mongolism’” from Ernst and Harris, eds. Race, science, and medicine, 1700-1960. group 9
Week 11 Technology and disability

Tuesday March 21st Clark, Andy. “What are we?” and “Bad borgs?” from Natural Born Cyborgs group 10

Thursday March 23rd Guest lecture, Dr. Jie Chen
Week 12 Clones and Rebels

Tuesday March 28th Recombinant DNA technology and cloning


Thursday March 30th Raymond, Eric “A Brief History of Hackerdom” from DiBona,

Ockman, and Stone, eds. Open Sources: A View from the Open Source Revolution group 11

Week 13 Virtual Worlds

Tuesday April 4th Bartle, Richard. “Introduction to Virtual Worlds” from Designing Virtual Worlds group 12

Thursday April 6th IN-CLASS ESSAY
Week 14 Conclusion

Tuesday April 11th Review session

Week 15 EXAMS

9 am Wednesday April 19th: FINAL

The database is protected by copyright © 2017
send message

    Main page