Universität Wien FIND

233044 SE Power, politics, and technology in the 21st century (2019W)

STS in action

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

Registration/Deregistration

Details

max. 25 participants
Language: English

Lecturers

Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 17.10. 11:30 - 13:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien (Kickoff Class)
Thursday 31.10. 11:30 - 14:45 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Thursday 07.11. 11:30 - 14:45 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Thursday 21.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Thursday 05.12. 11:30 - 14:45 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Thursday 23.01. 11:30 - 16:45 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

In recent years, the intersection of politics and technologies in democracies have become problematic in new ways. We can hardly open a newspaper without reading, say, enthusiastic reports on how ‘big data’ and/or artificial intelligence will finally defeat human illnesses, or how smart technologies can mitigate the globe’s most urgent problems. Next to these enthusiastic reports, we might also encounter critical voices who underline that big data is biased and therefore more likely to be beneficial for some groups rather than others; or we might read urgent pleas to impose a global moratorium on genome editing, so as to save humanity from being undone. The red line that cuts across these examples are substantial debates on the promises, threates, or agency of emerging technologies, our human capacity to oversee and direct these technologies, and a collective soul searching on how this could or ought to be accomplished in practice.
How can STS help us to engage with this new imbroglio between technologies and politics in democracies at the beginning of the 21st century? This will be the guiding question of our seminar.

The seminar’s ambition is to deepen our knowledge on some theories and sensitizing concepts that scholars in STS and in related fields of inquiry have developed to engage with the myriad topics at the intersections between 'technology' and 'politics', and to make a collective effort to transform some of these theories and concepts into tools that can help us unpack the entanglements of politics and technologies. Thus, the seminar seeks to strike a middle ground between engagements with theoretical traditions in STS and methods. Many of the examples used in class will relate to biotechnologies and the life sciences. However, students are allowed and also encouraged to adapt some of the concepts and tools discussed in class to think through other technologies.

In terms of methods, the seminar will be divided into two parts:
- In the first part, we will explore various ways in which STS has engaged with politics and technology, at times also paying an eye on literature from related disciplines. We will organize this along a set of themes and topics. These topics will include: 'identities, imaginaries, and imaginations,' 'power, politics, and the Political,' 'governance of and through technologies,' 'issues, frames, and problematizations', and 'spaces and scales' of governance.

In each session, we will discuss a set of core literature that all have to read in advance. In class, we will combine input (from student groups and the lecturer), with ample time for in-depth-discussions, and 'ateliers' in which we will try to put the readings into practice.
- In the second part, we will put to practice some of these modes. We will work on case studies (either alone or in a group), in which we will adopt the sensitizing concepts elaborated in the first part.

Assessment and permitted materials

Course Assessment
To pass the seminar, students are expected to complete the following tasks:
- Prepare and present two oral inputs on the mandatory literature of a class (as group work), supporting this input by a handout or slides (handed in through email in the morning of the class).
- Write and hand in:
Two (one A4 page long each) reading reflections, in which you act as a critical (yet empathic) reviewer of the mandatory literature discussed in class; and
A (one A4 page long) post-class reflection, in which you report on an artefact, such as a newspaper report or a tweet, that you think exemplifies what we have discussed in class
- Prepare a short presentation of your case, what you take it to be an instance of, and how you plan to engage with it, and present it in class in January 2020 (either alone or in a group)
- Write a seminar paper (of 3.000- 4.000 words), in which you engage with an empirical case with the help of lenses discussed in class (either alone or as a group work), submitting this by February 28, 2020

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Grading Scheme
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:

Two oral inputs: 20 points, Assessed as group work, Feedback on request;
Two reading reflections, and a post-class reflection diary: 15 points,
Assessed individually, Feedback on request;
Short presentation of your case: 15 points, Assessed individually/as group work, Feedback by lecturer;
Seminar paper: 40 points, Assessed individually/as group work, Feedback on request;
Active participation in class: 10 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: We 16.10.2019 15:48