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Changing Life: Genes, Ecologies, and Texts

Location: MIT

Wednesdays 5:00PM - 8:00PM

February 1, 2017 - May 10, 2017

In this course you will develop your abilities to expose ways that scientific knowledge has been shaped in contexts that are gendered, racialized, economically exploitative, and hetero-normative. The class will be structured through four projects that concern:

1)    Interpretation of cultural dimensions of science;

2)    Climate change futures;

3)    Genomic citizenry; and

4)    Students’ plans for ongoing practice.

The projects will also draw attention to topics such as museum display, science fiction, internet-mediated discourse, and will involve close reading and literary analysis of texts, whether in science, social studies of science, or science fiction. 

The projects will be undertaken in a Project-Based Learning format that allows students to shape their own directions of inquiry, skill development, and collegial support.  Students’ learning will be guided by individualized bibliographies co-constructed with the instructors, the inquiries of the other students, and a set of tools and processes for literary analysis, inquiry, reflection, and support.  By the end of the class, you will have 1) charted a path into an ever-growing body of work on the interpretation of sciences in contexts, to which feminist, anti-racist, and other critical analysts and activists have made significant contributions, and 2) formulated a personal plan for ongoing inquiry that troubles the boundaries of knowledge production in the academy and sciences.  Students from all fields and levels of preparation are encouraged to join the course; advanced study in the sciences or literary analysis is not required.



Peter Taylor is a Professor at UMass Boston, where he directs the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program and its Science in a Changing World track. He has co-taught four times for GCWS on Gender, Race, and Science using a Project-Based Learning format.  His books include Unruly Complexity, Taking Yourself Seriously, and Nature-Nurture? No.


Mary Baine Campbell is Professor of English at Brandeis University; she also teaches in Comparative Literature and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She has prepared two former GCWS courses and twice been a member of the GCWS Board of Directors.  Her books include The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400-1600Wonder and Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe

Earlier Event: February 1
Feminism and Islam
Later Event: February 1
Feminist Inquiry