May 20, 2022  
Catalogue 2021-2022 
Catalogue 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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STS 137 - Unpacking Climate Change (Un)Certainty

Semester Offered: Spring
1 unit(s)
The dissonance between the scientific and public understandings of uncertainty can manifest in many ways, but becomes most obvious during scientific controversies. As of late there seems to be a rash of scientific controversies dominating public discourse on all sides of the political landscape. We are seeing an Orwellian emergence of a “post-fact” politics that has normalized the denial of scientific evidence. Whether someone rejects the incontrovertible evidence for anthropogenic climate change or dismisses the numerous studies showing no causal links between childhood vaccinations and autism, it seems that consensus driven scientific evidence and authority are being regularly dismissed on the public stage. In this Grand Challenge course, we use the controversy surrounding the science of climate change as a way of examining the various ways people engage with uncertainty and the impact this has on the erosion of scientific authority. Although this course is firmly rooted in STS frameworks examining the social, political, and economic dimensions of science, it also involves some light quantitative analysis. Although students do not learn statistical methods, they are introduced to concepts like bell curves, standard deviation, and p-hacking. The goal is for students to become more literate and reflexive in how they engage scientific controversies like climate change. As with all scientific controversies, answers are never clear cut. Yet, the messiness isn’t always grounded in the science itself. By examining the social dimensions of this controversy students begin to identify and navigate other rhetorical forces at play. Jose Perillan.

Two 75-minute periods.

Course Format: CLS

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