Before Getting Started
Please take some time to reflect upon our course materials as a whole.
Consider the ideas and arguments covered throughout our fifteen weeks together.
Have any particular readings, discussions, documentaries/clips, topics/themes grabbed your attention more than others?
Did you find one or more of our week’s course materials particularly relevant to, or helpful in making better sense of, historical or current issues relating to STEM?
Were there any concerns or arguments in course materials that you felt ‘missed the mark’ or perhaps provided a framework or piece of evidence that you would like to take the opportunity to thoughtfully critique?
Please select two distinct course materials and:
1.) Develop an argument that expands on and/or critiques one course material by way of comparison/contrast with a second course material
2.) Apply the chosen course materials to a particular historical or contemporary topic/question concerning ideas, values, and/or practices relating to STEM.
In other words, please use two specific materials from our course to compose either a compare/contrast essay, OR an essay applying course materials to a particular STEM-related issue/question.
Our final is not meant to serve as an extended outside research paper.
You are not required to conduct research beyond the scope & materials of our course.
The goal of our final papers is to consider the strengths and limitations of particular frameworks and ideas presented in our course: either theoretically in a compare/contrast fashion, or empirically by way of their application/relevance to historical or ongoing concerns in STEM.
Examples From Past Papers
If one was intrigued by the epistemological debates between traditional and social constructionist analyses, two options might present themselves: one might choose to further elaborate the implications, strengths, and limitations of the contrasting approaches to the study of STEM, OR one might like to pick up the arguments developed in one or more of the particular schools of thought (functionalism, actor-network theory, etc.) and elaborate on the significance of that school of thought in the context of debates about the U.S. response to COVID-19.
Perhaps you were intrigued by our discussions concerning the role of race or gender in STEM – how such concepts and their classifications are or are not illuminated via biologically determinist or socially constructionist frameworks; perhaps how gender and race as social identities matter to the ideas and practices embedded in particular STEM fields or applications?
Perhaps some of our course materials can be used to better illuminate aspects of the discussions swirling around questions of scientific funding and its connection to objectivity?
Do any of our course materials provide particularly poignant insights into the positive or negative role of geneticization and modern conceptions of the ‘self’?
How might course materials speak to issues of expertise and decision making in the context of climate change? What positive or negative consequences might result from taking a positivist or relativist position vis-à-vis questions of expertise?
Are there important STEM ‘black boxes’ still in need of substantial unpacking and further analysis?
What about the ethical considerations (and potential conflicts of ethics) relating to various technological objects and their applications?
Is there any hope for Pluto being a planet??? (I kid!!)
The sky (and beyond!) is the limit here!
Please be sure to include direct textual evidence in support of any central claims made in the final paper.
Insofar as technical terminology (‘jargon’) is necessary, please be sure to briefly explain what specific concepts mean.
Please aim for approximately 6-8 double-spaced pages. Times New Roman 12 pt. font.
Please include a separate works cited page.
Any citation style/format is fine – just aim to be consistent.
Due: Friday May 6th by end of day (11:59 pm) under Canvas Assignments.
While a final exam constitutes a serious component to any class, please use the opportunity to explore an angle, topic, or question from any course material that excites, puzzles, or otherwise intrigues you – make this your own unique final paper and have fun with it!