STS 301 section 400 Syllabus
Fall 2010

Catalog description:  Develops an understanding of the social character of scientific activity. Through the study of current work by leading historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science, students develop a comprehensive grasp of the social foundations of modern scientific inquiry.

Contact information:

  • Email: (I try to respond to emails within 24 hours on class days) or ask questions on the Blackboard discussion board.
  • Office phone 864-656-5356 but I get emails sooner than phone messages
  • Office Hardin B06.  My office hours are MWF 10:10 to 11:00 and Wed. 12:20 to 1:10 but I am happy to make appointments for other times.

Expectations: This is an internet-only course.  It has no regular class meetings but students are expected keep up with the work on a weekly basis.  You have flexibility when you do the work, but you cannot skip a week and then catch up.  You must take the tests on the assigned day (unless you contact the professor, in advance if possible, about very special circumstances).   Your tasks are to:

  •  read assigned books and web sources and do research
  • listen to short audio files about the ideas covered in class (posted in mp3 form)
  • participate thoughtfully in the Blackboard discussion board
  • write essay exams and papers that must be submitted in Microsoft Word or RichText format

Academic Integrity:  As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson's vision of this institution as a "high seminary of learning."  Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others.  Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree.  Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.  This includes representing someone else's work as your own or handing in the same paper to two different courses without permission of the instructor.

It is cheating to copy portions of a paper, exam, or discussion board posting from a book or web site or from online class notes or discussion board postings, even if you change a few words, unless the words are quoted and the source is given.  It is poor writing for more than about 20% of your paper to consist of quotes.  You may discuss the papers and exam with other students before you start writing but the work you submit must be entirely your own.

This syllabus is a contract between the professor and the students.  The professor reserves the right to make changes in special circumstances, but will discuss any changes with the students.

Required books:  Reading should be done by the class day listed in the schedule.

four papers
Blackboard discussion board
final exam
Your numerical grade out of 100 points will be converted to final letter grades by the system 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, below 60=F.  

The participation policy for this course is as follows:  Students are expected to do all assignments by the deadlines assigned or make special arrangements with the professor in advance.  You are responsible for the material in the assigned readings and the course web pages listed on the syllabus.  If unexpected problems arise please contact the professor as soon as possible.  Any student who has not submitted two papers and at least 5 Blackboard discussion board postings by Oct 6 will be dropped from the course.

Blackboard discussion questions (bb) will be posted at least once a week on the Blackboard learning system.  This is a required assignment for the course, rather like the journals some other courses assign.   The goal of the Blackboard discussion is to allow more discussion of the reading and the lectures than is possible in class. You can read comments left by others and add your own for everyone to read.  You may respond to directly to the question asked or respond to another student. Forums will be closed to further comments after the paper is due for each book.  I reserve the right to add more (earlier) deadlines for the Blackboard questions if no one posts until the last day or two before two papers.

Your participation in this system will be graded on the basis both of quality and quantity. Contributions to the internet discussion should be thoughtful comments on the reading and/or the professor's notes  and/or the comments of other students, usually one or two paragraphs long (150-400 words).  Posts will be graded and averaged. The average grade will be adjusted as follows:  if you make more than 20 posts, add 10% to the discussion board grade.  If you make fewer than 15 posts deduct 10% from the discussion board grade.  If you make fewer than 10 posts deduct 50% from the discussion board grade.

Papers: You will write a paper of 6-10 double-spaced pages after reading each book.  These papers are not simply book reviews.  What I want you to do is to discuss the arguments made in the book and then discuss an issue the book raises for the future.  In the "issues for the future" section of your paper, you should do additional research to further illuminate the issue you think important.

Higher grades will go to papers that exhibit logical thinking, an analytical framework, specific evidence, the ability to inform and communicate, sound organization, and a concise and coherent argument. Late papers will be penalized five points for each calendar day late.  Very late papers will be penalized no lower than a 65 if the paper merits at least a 75.

Class Schedule:  Note that additions will be made to this schedule as the term progresses, please check it frequently.  Assignments are due by midnight on the date given but please do not leave start your assignments at the last minute; I will not be available to help with technological problems after 9 pm.

Material to Cover
Assignments Due
Aug. 18-20
Introduction (audio in Blackboard content), what is STS (audio), Why the Future Doesn't Need Us
Aug. 23-27
Abelson 1-3
Aug. 23 bb 1
Aug. 30-Sept. 3
Abelson 4-6
Aug. 30 bb2 due
Sept. 6-10
Abelson 7-8 and conclusion
Sept. 13-17
Weiner part 1 Sept. 13 paper 1 due and
last day to do bb 3-5
Sept. 20-24
Weiner part 2
Sept. 27-Oct. 1
Weiner part 3 and epilogue
Oct. 1 last day to do bb 6-10
Oct. 4-8
Skloot introductory material and part 1
Oct. 4 paper 2 due
Oct. 11-15
Skloot part 2

Oct. 18-22
Skloot part 3 and afterword
Oct. 22 last day to do bb 11-16
Oct. 25-29
Scott introduction and part 1
Oct. 25 paper 3 due
Nov. 1-5
Scott part 2

Nov. 8-12
Scott part 3

Nov. 15-19
Scott part 4
Nov. 19 last day to do bb 17-22
Nov. 29-Dec. 3
Lessons from the Luddites (three pages)
Nov. 29 paper 4 due
Dec. 3 last day to do bb 23-28
Dec. 8
Final Exam
Dec. 8 final exam due

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For Pam Mack's Home Page see: Pamela E. Mack

This page last updated 8/20/2010