The goal of my teaching practice is to foster active learning with an emphasis on building student skills in research design.
New Undergraduate Course in Summer 2016
The History of Big Data (History, University of California Berkeley) Syllabus
In a 2008 article for Wired Magazine, Chris Anderson predicted the “end of theory,” stating “this is a world where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace every other tool that might be brought to bear…. with enough data, the numbers speak for themselves.” “Big Data” refers to the ability of society to harness information at a large scale in novel ways to extract new insights or create new forms of value. How did data get to be so big? Does ubiquitous monitoring, recording and analysis indeed spell the end of theory? This course examines the evolution of the idea of “big data” and observations pertaining to the so-called information explosion. Drawing on historical accounts of the development of scientific knowledge and practices and systems management, we consult scientific articles and works by historians, sociologists, and anthropologists of science to provide multiple perspectives on the story of quantification and the rise of big data in diverse fields of physical, biological, and social sciences and the humanities. Upon completion of the course, students will 1) identify and articulate multiple perspectives on how looking at the world through a lens of numbers has developed and 2) recognize and critically analyze areas where historically constructed ideas about big data inform contemporary events.
Guest Lecturer on Democratizing Biotechnology and Science and Public Participation syllabus module
Course Description: Be it bugs, buildings, or bits, what humans imagine and construct is tightly interconnected with the societies they live in. This course provides an overview of the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) as a way to study how our knowledge and technology shape and are shaped by social, political, historical, economic, and other factors. We will learn key concepts of the field (e.g. how technologies are understood and used differently in different communities) and apply them to a wide range of topics including geography, history, environmental and information science, and others. Questions this course will address include: how are scientific facts constructed? How are values embedded in technical systems? Can non-humans have agency? Is it possible to dissociate science and politics? What is scientific evidence and how do we use it?
In Fall 2013, I co-taught a course in the Science, Technology and Society Initiative at the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA), University of Massachusetts, Amherst entitled Participatory Digital and Visual Research with Associate Professor Krista Harper (Anthropology and Public Policy). The course involves graduate students in team ethnography of a national project called Futurescape City Tours. Organizers in six North American cities hosted engagements where citizens and stakeholders learned about urban applications of nanotechnology and its relation to the future of cities.
As policymaking becomes global in scale, new tools are needed to include and engage citizens
worldwide in political processes. This course explores the role of citizen deliberation in science and technology policy by analyzing the global governance of biodiversity. Students apply research methods to design, examine and critique a small group technology assessment exercise involving citizen recruitment, issue education, discussion facilitation, dissemination and evaluation.
Adopting a studio approach to balance theory with practice, students planned a Massachusetts site for the international citizen deliberation called World Wide Views on Biodiversity coordinated at global sites by the Danish Board of Technology in which citizens made recommendations on issues relevant to policy discussions at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (Cop 11) planned for September 2012. Select students elected to extend the work of the course and implement project plans as a summer independent study and participated in the global citizen consultation on Sept. 15, 2012 hosted at the Museum of Science Boston.
While at New York University, I taught a Masters level course at the Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), known for its pioneering work in demonstration and research in the field of interactive media. The aim of this course is to explore and draw inspiration from the scientific process, its representations, and data. What does it mean to use the “scientific method”? What is the purpose and value of data produced in experiments? How “true” are representations crafted with data, and who wants or needs to know about scientific results? What do we gain by incorporating scientific data or visualization into our own work? The Spring 2009 version focused on cases from emerging and converging scientific and technological fields: nano, bio, & info. The goal is to cultivate purposeful science communication and to encourage critical responses to scientific and technological practice in modern culture.