Series editor(s): Professor Ted I. K. Youn.
Subject Area: Sociology and Public Policy
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|Title:||Teaching sociology to science and engineering students: some experiences from an introductory science and technology studies course|
|Volume:||16 Editor(s): Harriet Hartman ISBN: 978-1-8485-5298-2 eISBN: 978-1-84855-299-9|
|Citation:||Trevor Pinch (2008), Teaching sociology to science and engineering students: some experiences from an introductory science and technology studies course, in Harriet Hartman (ed.) Integrating the Sciences and Society: Challenges, Practices, and Potentials (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Volume 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.99-114|
|DOI:||10.1016/S0196-1152(08)16005-7 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Article type:||Chapter Item|
The sociology of science and technology, although a lively field (Lynch, 1993; Shapin, 1995; Pinch, 2006), continues to be little taught within American sociology departments. The practitioners are often to be found within interdisciplinary Science and Technology Studies (S&TS) programs and departments. S&TS is a newly emerging discipline. In 2007 for the first time the NRC in the US included it as an “emerging discipline” within its annual ranking exercises. This peculiarly “interdisciplinary discipline” (in other words it has interdisciplinary roots largely in sociology, philosophy, history, political science, law, anthropology, cultural studies, and feminism, but has now formed a sufficiently stable body of canonical works, handbooks, PhD programs, and the like that it is becoming institutionalized as a new discipline in its own right), takes science, technology, and medicine as its object of study and examines its knowledge, practices, and embedding in culture and society using largely humanistic and social science methods. Often the practitioners of S&TS have their first degrees in the sciences or engineering and a higher degree in the humanities and social sciences. Many S&TS departments, as well as teaching their own majors, and offering capstone courses, carry out a service role teaching engineering and science students. These latter students often take S&TS courses to meet humanities distribution requirements. In the past they may have taken courses on Shakespeare and the like but now they look for something a bit more relevant to their careers. Such courses present an unusual opportunity to teach fundamental sociological ideas to scientists and engineers. For these students it is often their first and perhaps only encounter with the world of academic sociology. In this chapter I report on the experiences of developing and teaching one such course, “What is Science?”. I offer this account in the hope that other teachers may benefit from what I have learnt in my 14-year experience of offering this course.
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