The undergraduate Course Thread on Sciences and Society begins with the understanding that the pressing problems of our time are simultaneously scientific and social, technological and political, ethical and economic. Beyond the confines of traditional disciplines–and in addition to the student’s major or minor–the Sciences and Society Course Thread helps Berkeley undergraduates investigate the complex relationships between these perspectives and practices, which are too often kept apart. It offers the opportunity to understand how science, technology, and medicine change our horizons of political possibility (as with social media and revolution) and social (in)justice (as with the promise and perils of egg donation and transnational surrogacy). It also help us understand how social and ethical commitments, historical processes, and political formations help shape what will count as authoritative knowledge and viable technologies. The Course Thread on Sciences and Society was mentioned as exemplar of new model of undergrad education in the L&S Faculty Forum report on Re-imagining Undergraduate Education at Berkeley.
The kinds of topics students will find in this Course Thread include the histories and futures of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human; race, identity, and genetics; the politics of access to medicines at home and globally; global environmental politics, social justice, and sustainable development; and much more. With courses in departments including Integrative Biology, Rhetoric, History, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Ethnic Studies, Engineering, Geography, Anthropology, and many more, the Sciences and Society Course Thread helps Berkeley undergraduates develop new kinds of interdisciplinary literacy that are become increasingly important to our engagements in the contemporary world.
The Course Threads Program is run by the Townsend Center for the Humanities.