Science and Technology in the Making: Entering the World of the Laboratory
Full course description
Students will be introduced to the way experimental research programs are set up and how they involve negotiations, interests, and have political as well as cultural relevance. The Science Studies perspective that we will use, involves a close look at the actual way scientists work in establishing facts. Facts are not discovered by scientists in any simple sense of the word. Their establishment results from complex processes involving heterogeneous networks of scientists, machines, techniques, institutions, publication pressure, intellectual property rights, political interests, skills, corporate labs versus public labs, role of industry, state and military, commercialization, knowledge, strategies, choices, patents, ethical conflicts, controversies, innovations, etc. Establishing facts, in other words, is a heterogeneous mixing of humans and non-humans, facts and artefacts, fictions and realities. Therefore, we will take a closer look at this process. Additionally, the course includes discussion sessions with scientists from the life sciences as well as a in-depth interview by students (in teams) in a lab to study real science-in-action. In terms of knowledge to be acquired, students are expected, at the end of the course period, to have an advantaged understanding of the way science in action actually functions. This includes their internal functioning, the way they fulfil various functions in modern societies (industry, state, commerce and military) and the way they relate to the wider scientific community and sustain links with industrial contexts.
The primary aim of this course is to help students to understand the complexities involved in producing and the disseminating of scientific knowledge. In essence, this course is an introduction to science studies at three levels: a micro-analytical perspective on the complexities involved in the processes of building up scientific facts; a meso-analytical perspective on the altered institutional ecologies; and a macro-analytical perspective on the role of industry, the state and society at large.
Students are expected, by the end of this course, to understand how science is actually functioning, including their internal organization, how they fulfil various functions in modern societies, and the way they relate to industry, government and other scientific centres.
- Kleinman, D.L. (2003). Impure Cultures: university biology and the world of commerce. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
- Sismondo, Sergio (2010). An Introduction in Science andTechnology Studies. 2nd revised ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.