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Fall 2019

ISF Courses

ISF 10 Enduring Questions and Great Books of the Western Tradition
  • Mondays 12-2PM
  • Bhandari
  • Hearst Annex B5
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 24411

This course is a broad survey of major canonical works (“Great Books”). These texts offer responses to central questions that, across the disciplinary divides, continue to inform contemporary work in the social sciences and the humanities. By considering these enduring questions, we seek to examine core issues of the liberal arts as they find expression across what would later become disciplinary divisions. 

ISF 100 A Introduction to Social Theory and Cultural Analysis
  • MWF 2-3PM
  • Kelkar
  • Wheeler 212
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 22074
Discussion Sections:

101: M 3-4 PM
102: M 10-11AM
103: T 9-10 AM
104: T 3-4 PM

This course, required of all ISF majors but open to all students, provides an introduction to the works of foundational social theorists of the nineteenth century, including Karl Marx and Max Weber. Writing in what might be called the “pre disciplinary” period of the modern social sciences, their works cross the boundaries of anthropology, economics, history, political science, sociology, and are today claimed by these and other disciplines as essential texts. We will read intensively and critically from their respective works, situating their intellectual contributions in the history of social transformations wrought by industrialization and urbanization, political revolution, and the development of modern consumer society.

ISF 100 G Introduction to Science, Society, and Ethics
  • TTH 12-2 PM
  • Bhandari
  • Mulford 240
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 32560

In our time of dizzying change, questions of value and fact often get mixed up. We'll see this to be the case in three of the most important contemporary developments: germline editing of embroys and bioengineering generally, climate change and decision-making by algorithms. There are obvious ethical questions at stake in these developments: intergenerational justice, fairness of engineered advantages, external costs imposed on third parties, and possible responsibility of systems for outcomes, to name a few. While this course will create room for explict ethical discussion around these developments, it will also aim to understand in social scientific terms the nature of ethics and ethical dispute in society. What role does ethics play in society? How does ethics inform scientific practice? What are the sources of ethical dispute? Can ethical disputes be resolved rationally? We'll pursue these questions not in the abstract but in the context of the said controversies: climate change, algorithmic decision-making and genetic engineering. No prior scientific knowledge is presumed.  

ISF 100 I Consumer Society and Culture
  • MWF 1-2 PM
  • Xu
  • Wheeler 102
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 31166

Following Weber, Veblen, and Bourdieu, social scientists often emphasize consumers’ motivations to establish or display their status. In many ways, consumption defines our lives – our identities as consumers are even more important, some would argue, than our identities as workers or producers. But what are the implications of a society in which “you are what you consume?” In this class, we will address: Under what conditions does a “consumer society” develop?  What does global commodity chain tell us about colonization, global inequality, and environmental injustice? How can we shape the life cycle of basic commodities—from raw materials to iPhones, from creation to destruction--in a socially sustainable way? This course will be interdisciplinary in its attempt to understand consumer society and culture in terms of political economy, geography, history, anthropology and sociology. It is divided into six major segments: "Consumption and Inequality," "Consumption, Meaning and Identity," "Global Commodity Chain," "Consumption in Contemporary China,” “Critiques of Consumer Society," and “Environment, Sustainability, and Social Justice”. The goal of this course is to provide students with a broad overview of debates and theories about consumption, and to provide them with an opportunity to explore a consumption-related topic themselves

ISF 189 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • MWF 9-10 AM
  • Kelkar
  • Cory 237
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 19186

This class is an introduction to research methods, leading students through different units built around specific learning goals and practical exercises.  The course is designed to teach a range of research skills, including (but not limited to) the ability to formulate research questions and to engage in scholarly conversations and arguments; the identification, evaluation, mobilization, and interpretation of sources; methods and instruments of field research (interviews, questionnaires, and sampling) and statistical thinking; and the construction of viable arguments and explanation in the human sciences.   At the same time, the course is designed to help students identify their own thesis topic, bibliography, and methodological orientation in preparation for ISF 190.

ISF 189 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • MWF 3-4 PM
  • Xu
  • Cory 237
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 19187

This class is an introduction to research methods, leading students through different units built around specific learning goals and practical exercises.  The course is designed to teach a range of research skills, including (but not limited to) the ability to formulate research questions and to engage in scholarly conversations and arguments; the identification, evaluation, mobilization, and interpretation of sources; methods and instruments of field research (interviews, questionnaires, and sampling) and statistical thinking; and the construction of viable arguments and explanation in the human sciences.   At the same time, the course is designed to help students identify their own thesis topic, bibliography, and methodological orientation in preparation for ISF 190.

ISF 189 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • TTH 9:30-11 AM
  • Quamruzzaman
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 19188

This class is an introduction to research methods, leading students through different units built around specific learning goals and practical exercises.  The course is designed to teach a range of research skills, including (but not limited to) the ability to formulate research questions and to engage in scholarly conversations and arguments; the identification, evaluation, mobilization, and interpretation of sources; methods and instruments of field research (interviews, questionnaires, and sampling) and statistical thinking; and the construction of viable arguments and explanation in the human sciences.   At the same time, the course is designed to help students identify their own thesis topic, bibliography, and methodological orientation in preparation for ISF 190.

ISF 190 Senior Thesis
  • TTH 2-3 PM
  • Quamruzzaman
  • Barrows 186
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 16924

The ISF Senior Thesis requirement is the capstone experience and final product of the ISF Major.   The thesis is a sustained, original, and critical examination of a central interdisciplinary research question, developed under the guidance of the ISF 190 instructor.  The thesis represents a mature synthesis of research skills, critical thinking, and competent writing. As the final product of a student's work in the major, the thesis is not the place to explore a new set of disciplines or research problems for the first time, but should develop methods of inquiry and bridge the several disciplines that students have developed in their Course of Study.

ISF 190 Senior Thesis
  • MW 10-11 AM
  • Xu
  • Dwinelle 104
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 16926

The ISF Senior Thesis requirement is the capstone experience and final product of the ISF Major.   The thesis is a sustained, original, and critical examination of a central interdisciplinary research question, developed under the guidance of the ISF 190 instructor.  The thesis represents a mature synthesis of research skills, critical thinking, and competent writing. As the final product of a student's work in the major, the thesis is not the place to explore a new set of disciplines or research problems for the first time, but should develop methods of inquiry and bridge the several disciplines that students have developed in their Course of Study.