Teaching STS: Controversies

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This is an extension of a previous post about teaching STS. So, teaching controversies is a mainstay of STS; if you need a good film to show, check out “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” replete with Steve Fuller weighing-in on intelligent design … and their are courtroom re-enactments and even a decent biology lesson for students that don’t have a strong background in basic genetics and/or evolution.

Of great interest for us is this: the film underscores the utility of theory in face of lame counter-factuals (which uninformed students tend to accept or privilege during discussion). Additionally, there is an incredible discussion, especially for high school or undergraduate students, about the difference between science and non-science. But, better than all of that, there is an implicit display of “truth” in three different forms — which makes for excellent discussion post-film — between “law truth,” “science truth,” and “religious truth,” which is great to show how truth is context-specific and what constitutes truth in law, science, and religion is only rarely overlapping.

Also, I have a handout already made to help students to navigate the documentary. Write me if you you’d like a copy or if you’ve used this clip for your own courses (send to: njr12 at psu.edu).

Lastly, if you’re already teaching Sismondo’s Introduction to Science and Technology Studies, the chapter on “Controversies” can be used with the film because midway through the chapter, Sismondo describes a set of 5 circumstances under which controversies can be “closed up” and those map onto the film wonderfully, making the bridge between in-class reading and an out-of-class film easy.

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This entry was posted in New Ideas, Old Ideas, STS, Teaching, Theory by Nicholas. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

2 thoughts on “Teaching STS: Controversies

  1. Pingback: Teaching STS: Controversies | Melike Şahinol

  2. Pingback: Teaching the Public Understanding of Science with Ancient Aliens | Installing (Social) Order

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