Universität Wien FIND

233045 SE Living in the "Plastic Age" (2019S)

Using Visual Methods to Explore the Place of Plastics in our Environment

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

Monday 04.03. 10:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien (Kickoff Class)
Monday 11.03. 10:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 18.03. 09:30 - 12:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 13.05. 09:30 - 12:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 20.05. 09:30 - 12:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 27.05. 09:30 - 12:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 17.06. 09:30 - 12:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Monday 24.06. 10:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien

Information

Aims, contents and method of the course

This seminar investigates the ways in which plastic is woven into contemporary societies and enacted through multiple cultural practices. Plastics have become an integral part of our lives and life itself seems almost impossible to imagine without them. The societal perception might be very positive, like for example modern technology clothing, it might have become seemingly indispensable, like the omnipresent plastic water bottle, or negative, like for example the current visions of the disposable plastic bags. But one object such as a plastic water bottle might be all at the same time: a personal health resource, a contested object, and a waste material. At the same time plastic has also become invisible, as it has managed to become an integral part of our life worlds. This in turn makes any intervention into ubiquitous cultural use practices complex.
The aim of this seminar is twofold: (1) It will be focusing on how we can as STS researchers address the question of ubiquity of plastics and investigate how each and every kind of plastics creates an assemblage of and realigns different actors (humans and non-humans) - and in the end creates a specific kind of 'reality'. This means asking questions: Through which practices do we encounter plastics in everyday life? How did the use of plastics shift over time and with it the meaning of specific 'plastic objects'? When and how do we 'see plastics' as being necessary and therefore 'in place' or as being dispensable or even harmful and therefore as potentially 'out of place'? (2) The seminar will engage in particular with visual methods for STS research in order to approach the issue of plastics in our environment.
This course is therefore both on plastics and society while at the same time being a course that reflects how to approach the topic from a visual methods perspective. Methodologically, this will be achieved through reading and discussing papers on plastics and the environment, investigating practices of understanding plastics (e.g. classifying and ordering plastics into different categories) and analysing how we 'see' plastic in campaigns against plastic pollution, policy material, but also how we can make plastics visible to ourselves. The course has a strong 'hands-on' component, asking from every student to ultimately produce a visual narrative (we will use the look-book approach outlined in the course) on plastics in the environment during the seminar.

Assessment and permitted materials

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

- Read the all literature listed as obligatory and, if possible, also the suggested readings listed for each scheduled session.
Write a summary of the readings for each class indicated with an * in the course handout; each reading summary should be about 900 words and include a summary of the texts’ main arguments and 2-3 questions that link the readings to the theme of the session. Summaries should be uploaded to the Moodle forum by Friday night? before each session.
- Participate actively in class discussions and group work.
- Prepare and guide the discussion in one of the seminar units.
- Take 5 pictures figuring plastics in your direct environment (e.g. at home, on your way from home to university, ….) with a short description ( approx. 5 lines about place & time, what kind of plastics it shows and why you took the picture); copy the picture into a word document and write the short description below (1 page for each picture + text) and upload the word file(s) to Moodle by 22 March 2019
- Produce regular entries into your personal plastics look-book (will be outlined in detail in class; in short: an image plus 400 words reflection which also refers to reading and discussion in class); you have to hand in 4 times 4 look-book entries (details will be further specified in class); the dates to upload them to Moodle are 8 April 2019, 29 April 2019, 17 May 2019, 14 June 2019 before midnight.
- At the end of the seminar you have to produce your personal plastics look-book: this means ordering the 16 look-book entries you have submitted in the course of the seminar with the aim to create a visual narrative. This should be introduced by a 2000 word essay which summarizes your reflections, using texts we have read and discussions we had in the seminar and a short 500 words conclusion specifying the main take aways. This should be uploaded to Moodle by 8 July 2019.

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

Produce a final version of the look-book: 35 points, assessed individually, feedback by lecturer;
Preparation for and active participation in seminar units:
15 points, assessed individually,feedback on request;
Preparing of the reading summaries and uploading them on time:
15 points, assessed individually, feedback on request;
Prepare and upload the collection of 5 pictures on time: 5 points,
assessed individually, feedback on request;
Prepare and upload the 4 time 4 entries into the look-book on time:
15 points, assessed individually, feedback on request;
Prepare and moderate the discussion in one seminar unit:
15 points, assessed as group work, 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