Taught by Michael A. Dennis at Cornell University, Spring 2000
 Description and Textbooks

 Outline of Topics

Description and Textbooks
This is a course about US science and politics during the second half of the twentieth century. As such, it is a course about the world we currently inhabit and read about in the newspapers, watch on television, and see on the web. Beginning with the mobilization of American science during World War II and the Cold War, and continuing through the increasing commercialization of technical knowledge, we will examine the various interactions among government, science and the law. Some of the issues we will address include: the militarization of American science; the relation of science and government regulation; the science and politics of the environment; changing notions of privacy with respect to information and bio-technology; and the politics of genetic knowledge. 

Required Books: Available at the Campus store or

Don Delillo, White Noise

Daniel S. Greenberg, The Politics of Pure Science

Sheila Jasanoff, The Fifth Branch (FB) 

Sheila Jasanoff, Science at the Bar (SB) 

Stuart W. Leslie, The Cold War and American Science

Additional materials are available in a reader from Gnomon Copy [273-3333] or on reserve in Uris. Many underlined terms refer to links on our class web page at:

Requirements: In addition to regular class attendance, there will be a take-home midterm, a research paper [10-15 pages] due on the last day of class, and a take-home final exam. 

Outline of Topics

25 January                        Introduction

27 January                American Science in World War II
                       Greenberg, Chapters 3-6. 

1 February                Does Vannevar Bush Really Matter?
                       Greenberg, Chapter 7-8; Bush Report. 

3 February                Images of the Scientist 
                        R. Merton, Normative Structure of Science, in Merton, R. K. (1973 ). The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Pages 267-278; Polanyi, M. (1962). "The Republic of Science: Its Political and Economic Theory." Minerva 1(Autumn): 54-73. 

8 February                The Struggle over Atomic Energy
                        Smith, A. K. (1965). A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists' Movement in America, 1945-47. Cambridge, MIT Press. Pages 128-173. 

10 February                The Militarization of American Science?
                        Leslie, Chapters 1-4. 

15 February                Oppenheimer and the Problems of Secrecy
                     "In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer"

17 February                        Big Science
                        Weinberg, A. (1961). "Impact of Large-Scale Science on the United States." Science 134: 161-64; Greenberg, Chapters 9-11. 

22 February                The Space Race
                        Leslie, Chapters 5-8; Mitroff, I. I. (1974). "Norms and Counter-Norms in a Select Group of Apollo Moon Scientists: A Case Study of the Ambivalence of Scientists." American Sociological Review 39 : 579-595. 

24 February                My Government went to the  Moon  and all I got were rocks!
                        Smith, M. L. (1983). Selling the moon: The U.S. Manned Space Program and the triumph of commodity scientism. The Culture of consumption: critical essays in American history, 1880-1980. R. W. Fox and T. J. J. Lears. New York, Pantheon: 175-236. 

29 February                Expertise: Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals
                        Jasanoff, SB, Chapters 1-4. 

2 March                Expertise in/and Congress
                        Jasanoff, FB, Chapters 1-3. 

7 March               Patenting Life? Diamond v. Chakrabarty
                        Jasanoff, SB, Chapter 7. On owning one's own DNA, see the following article in Salon

9 March                     Intellectual Property: Owning Ideas  ?

14 March               Universities and Industry
                        Djerassi, C. (1993). "Basic Research: The Gray Zone." Science 261(20 August 1993): 972-973; Krimsky, S., L. S. Rothenberg, et al. (1996). "Financial Interests of Authors in Scientific Journals: A Pilot Study of 14 Publications." Science and Engineering Ethics 2(4): 395-410. 

16 March                The Politics of Technology
                        Noble, D. F. (1978). "Social Choice in Machine Design: The Case of Automatically Controlled Machine Tools, and a Challenge for Labor." Politics and Society 8: 313-347; Winner, L. (1986). The Whale and the Reactor. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. 138-154. 

28 March                Is it Working?
                        MacKenzie, D. (1990 ). Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance. Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press. Pages 340-381; Hersch, S. M. (26 Sept 1994). Missile Wars. The New Yorker: 86-99. 

30 March                Technological Failure: The Challenger Explosion
               Rodgers Report; Figert, A. E. and T. F. Gieryn (1990). "Ingredients for a Theory of Science in Society: O-Rings, Ice Water, C-Clamp, Richard Feynman, and the Press." Theories of Science in Society. S. Cozzens and T. F. Gieryn. Bloomington, Indiana University Press: 67-97. 

4 April                Regulatory Science
                        Jasanoff, FB, Chapters 4-5. 

6 April                Regulating Pollution
                        Jasanoff, FB, Chapters 6-7. 

11 April                Systemic Problems: HIV 
                        Wachter, R. M. (1992). "AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Health." The New England Journal of Medicine 326(2): 128-133; Epstein, S. (1996). Impure science: AIDS, activism, and the politics of knowledge. Berkeley, University of California Press. Pages 235-264. 

13 April                New Reproductive Technologies
                        Mead, R. (1999). "Eggs for Sale." The New Yorker: 58-65; Talbot, M. (11 July 1999). "The Little White Bombshell." The New York Times Magazine: 38-43, 48, 61-3. 

18 April                The Human Genome Project and the Issue of Genetic Engineering
                        Gottweis, H. (1997). "Genetic Engineering, Discourses of Deficiency, and the New Politics of Population." Changing life : genomes, ecologies, bodies, commodities. P. J. Taylor, S. Halfon and P. Edwards. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press: 56-84; Fortun, M. (1998). "The Human Genome Project and the Acceleration of Biotechnology." Private Science: Biotechnology and the Rise of the Molecular Sciences. A. Thackray. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press: 182-201; Stolberg, S. G. (1999). "The Biotech Death of Jesse Gelsinger." The New York Times Magazine: 137-140, 149-150. 

20 April                Information Highways? A Role for Government?
                        Auletta, K. (16 August 1999). "Hard Core." The New Yorker: 42-69; Finding of Facts  in Microsoft Suit. 

25 April                Privacy: On-line and Inside
                        Diffie, W. and S. Landau (1998). Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption. Cambridge, The MIT Press. Pages 125-150; Davies, S. (1997). "Re-Engineering the Right to Privacy: How Privacy had been Transformed from a Right to a Commodity." Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape. P. E. Agre and M. Rotenberg. Cambridge, MIT Press: 143-165. 

27 April                        Science and Democracy
                        Jasanoff, S. (1996). "Is Science Socially Constructed--And Can It Still Inform Public Policy." Science and Engineering Ethics 2: 263-276; Ezrahi, Y. (1994). "Technology and the Illusion of the Escape from Politics." Technology, Pessimism, and Postmodernism. Y. Ezrahi, E. Mendelsohn and H. P. Segal. Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press: 29-37. . 

2 May                Science and its Publics
                        Delillo, White Noise.

4 May                        Research Papers Due. 

17 May                        Final Exam Due 

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