Universität Wien FIND

233044 SE Risk in Contemporary Society (2019S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 23 - Soziologie
Continuous assessment of course work

Details

max. 25 participants
Language: English

Lecturers

Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 07.05. 15:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien (Kickoff Class)
Thursday 13.06. 14:00 - 17:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 17.06. 13:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Wednesday 19.06. 14:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 24.06. 13:00 - 16:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Tuesday 25.06. 12:30 - 16:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Thursday 27.06. 14:00 - 17:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

Risk and uncertainty are ubiquitous concepts in the study of science and technology: decisions involving uncertainty are at the heart of expertise, innovation, and governance. Furthermore, the failure of large technological systems and the blame game typically following accidents provide ideal sites to study the consequences of risky technologies for regulation, knowledge management, and the politics of expertise.
This seminar provides an introduction to the phenomenon of risk from sociological, historical, and cultural perspectives. We will explore how ideas of safety, reliability, and probability shape our understanding of risk, and address the assumptions underlying and influencing the practices of risk assessment and regulation. We will focus on the role of communication, trust, and legitimacy in risk management and regulation, and debate which democratic policy instruments might facilitate stable, consensual decisions in contemporary societies. We will ask questions such as: What constitutes a risk and for whom? Who gets to decide what risks are worth taking? What constitutes credible information and what role do experts play?
This seminar provides an introduction to qualitative studies of risk. Major approaches to studying risk from cultural, social, and historical perspectives are presented, in order to complement the predominantly quantitative representation of hazards in contemporary data-driven societies. In addition to theoretical essays, we will discuss a selection of specific case studies.

Assessment and permitted materials

To pass the seminar, students are expected to complete the following tasks:

- Participation. As this is a seminar and not a lecture, your active engagement is required. Mere attendance is not enough. Make sure you attend each meeting prepared to ask questions, and comment on someone else’s questions.
- Preparation for each session. For all sessions (except for the kick-off session), there are required texts. Read these and write your short reflections (maximum 400 words) before the session. Note that due to the compressed character of the seminar, it is highly recommended that you start these early, ideally right after the kick-off session. Your reflections should include: a brief summary of what you see as the key points in the texts, your own thoughts and/or criticisms, as well as two questions for discussion in the class. You do not have to respond to each reading separately; rather, what you should try is connect the readings in your response: how do they relate, compare, contrast? You can also try to link the particular text to the wider themes of the course (this will become easier the further along you get). Your reflections should be sent to the instructor by e-mail (s.schmid@gmx.at) and uploaded in Moodle (http://moodle.univie.ac.at) no later than 6pm the evening before each session.
- Oral presentation (15 minutes) accompanied by a 1-2 page handout, done alone, in pairs, or groups, depending on class size. This presentation should be based on one of the optional readings provided on the syllabus, or students can propose a different topic (to be agreed upon with the instructor in advance). Students will be asked to register for a presentation date during the first meeting on May 7. Please submit your powerpoint slides on Moodle by 6pm on the day before your presentation. Oral presentations will be given throughout the seminar.
- Course paper. To complete the course, students must submit a final paper (3,500-4,000 words) addressing the main theme of the course. This can relate to the oral presentation (and feedback) but the work must be done on an individual basis. The essay title must be agreed on with the instructor before the end of the course. The paper must include a cover page, table of contents, and full set of references. The essay itself should clearly state the chosen question, its relevance to the course, and the conceptual framework for the analysis. It should also reach a clear set of conclusions regarding the academic and/or policy-related significance of the paper. Papers should be sent to the instructor by email (s.schmid@gmx.at) and uploaded to Moodle no later than July 25th, 2019.

'This course uses the plagiarism-detection service Turnitin for larger assignments.'

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The grading scheme is based on a total of 100 points. These points will be awarded in relation to students’ performance in meeting the course learning aims in the different obligatory tasks.
The maximum number of points to be acquired for each task is:

Participation: 15 points, assessed individually, feedback by lecturer;
Session preparation: 20 points, assessed individually, no feedback;
Oral presentation: 25 points, assessed individually, feedback by lecturer;
Final paper: 40 points, assessed individually, feedback on request;

Minimum requirements
A minimum of 50 points is necessary to successfully complete the course. Failure to meet the attendance regulations, to deliver course assignments on time or to adhere to standards of academic work may result in a deduction of points.

Grades
100-87 points Excellent (1)
86-75 points Good (2)
74-63 points Satisfactory (3)
62-50 points Sufficient (4)
49-0 points Unsatisfactory (5) (fail)

Attendance
Presence and participation is compulsory. Absences of four hours at maximum are tolerated, provided that the lecturer is informed about the absence. Absences of up to eight hours in total may be compensated by either a deduction of grading points or/and extra work agreed with the lecturer. Whether compensation is possible is decided by the lecturer.
Absences of more than eight hours in total cannot be compensated. In this case, or if the lecturer does not allow a student to compensate absences of more than four hours, the course cannot be completed and is graded as a ‘fail’ (5), unless there is a major and unpredictable reason for not being able to fulfil the attendance requirements on the student’s side (e.g. a longer illness). In such a case, the student may be de-registered from the course without grading. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate this in a timely manner, and to provide relevant evidence to their claims if necessary. Whether this exception applies is decided by the lecturer.

Important Grading Information
If not explicitly noted otherwise, all requirements mentioned in the grading scheme and the attendance regulations must be met. If a required task is not fulfilled, e.g. a required assignment is not handed in or if the student does not meet the attendance requirements, this will be considered as a discontinuation of the course. In that case, the course will be graded as ‘fail’ (5), unless there is a major and unpredictable reason for not being able to fulfill the task on the student's side (e.g. a longer illness). In such a case, the student may be de-registered from the course without grading. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate this in a timely manner, and to provide relevant evidence to their claims if necessary. Whether this exception applies is decided by the lecturer.
If any requirement of the course has been fulfilled by fraudulent means, be it for example by cheating at an exam, plagiarizing parts of a written assignment or by faking signatures on an attendance sheet, the student's participation in the course will be discontinued, the entire course will be graded as ‘not assessed’ and will be entered into the electronic exam record as ‘fraudulently obtained’. Self-plagiarism, particularly re-using own work handed in for other courses, will be treated likewise.

Examination topics

Reading list


Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 23.08.2019 12:48