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Spring 2019

ISF Courses

ISF 50 Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence
  • TTH 2-3:30
  • Kelkar
  • Barrows 110
  • 3 Units
  • Class Number: 31941

It’s hard not to open a newspaper or magazine today and see claims being made for artificial
intelligence. Advocates argue that software programs will now be able to even perform creative
jobs (as opposed to just routine ones) and that this is both a matter of celebration and concern.
Critics argue that these claims are hyperbolic, while others argue that they are too close to reality
and an indication of how much autonomy we have ceded to machines. In this course, we will pick
apart all of these claims. We will ask: how have different human societies conceived of
“intelligence,” natural or artificial, and how has this varied with place and time? How have
different technical experts been influenced by the time, place, constraints, and patronage they
operated under? How does contemporary AI intersect with regimes of calculation, capitalism,
standardization, gender, and speech? The class will be interdisciplinary in method as well as
subject: we will study technical and popular material, philosophy and empirical work, engineering
and social science literature, as well as science fiction.

 

The course satisfies the Philosophy and Values and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Breadth requirements.

ISF 100 A Introduction to Social Theory and Cultural Analysis
  • TTH 12:30-2PM
  • Bhandari
  • Cory 277
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 22719

My goal in this course is to equip students with some of the most important classic and modern social scientific theoretical ideas for the following purposes:

--to see the nature and determinants of social life in new ways and in historical context

--to give students tools to grasp the nature of the social problems and developments that their own research will explore

--to get us to think about the new concepts and theories we shall have to create to make sense of the possibly epochal developments in AI, biotechnology and energy systems.

 The course will be interdisciplinary in two ways: we shall study the ideas of the great pre-disciplinary theorists (Marx, Weber and Durkheim), and I have assigned widely respected and cited works that are still often not taught because they fall in the interstices of two or more departments or disciplines. Yet these works will show us that many of our greatest social problems cannot be tackled productively without an interdisciplinary approach.

 

ISF 100A

Fall 2017

Rakesh Bhandari

Acting Director, Interdisciplinary Studies

GSI’s: Ella Belfer, Sophie Major

 

My goal in this course is to equip students with some of the most important classic and modern social scientific theoretical ideas for the following purposes:

--to see the nature and determinants of social life in new ways and in historical context

--to give students tools to grasp the nature of the social problems and developments that their own research will explore

--to get us to think about the new concepts and theories we shall have to create to make sense of the possibly epochal developments in AI, biotechnology and energy systems.

The course will be interdisciplinary in two ways: we shall study the ideas of the great pre-disciplinary theorists (Marx, Weber and Durkheim), and I have assigned widely respected and cited works that are still often not taught because they fall in the interstices of two or more departments or disciplines. Yet these works will show us that many of our greatest social problems cannot be tackled productively without an interdisciplinary approach.

Expect to do eight hours of reading a week; there is no other work in this course but to attend lectures and sections and to take the exams which will test reading knowledge on the basis of questions asking for only short answers. The reinforcement of what you learn should happen through your use of select concepts and theories in further course work and of course your own research. 

 

Class Meeting Time and Office Hours 

Please be on time on to class and section. OH for this class will be on at 267 Evans at F 11-1. I’ll also have additional OH posted on the ISF website that you are free to try to crash.

Attendance and Reading

Attendance at all lectures and sections is required. The assigned reading should be completed before the following class. No laptops or electronic devices allowed in the lecture hall without a valid exception.

Grade

Section attendance: 10% of Final Grade; Each midterm: 15% of Final Grade; Final Exam: 30% of Final Grade You will be allowed for the final a cheat sheet of hand-written notes on one side of an 8” by 11” piece of paper.  

Honor Code:

The student community at UC Berkeley has adopted the following Honor Code: “As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others.”  The expectation is that you will adhere to this code both inside the classroom and outside. Reviewing lecture and reading materials and studying for exams can be enjoyable and enriching things to do with fellow students.  This is recommended.  However, unless otherwise instructed, homework assignments are to be completed independently and materials submitted as homework should be the result of one’s own independent work. 

The University code of ethics is very severe on academic misconduct, i. e. plagiarism and cheating. All written work submitted for a course, except for acknowledged quotations, must be expressed in the student's own words. It must also be constructed upon a plan of the student's own devising. Work copied without acknowledgement from a book, from another student's paper, from the internet, or from any other source is plagiarized. Plagiarism can range from wholesale copying of passages from another's work to using the views, opinions, and insights of another without acknowledgement, to paraphrasing another person's original phrases without acknowledgement. All sources must therefore be documented and all usage of other material must be clearly cited in your papers. Plagiarism and cheating will have dramatic consequences for you, from failing the assignment to failing the entire course. All cases will also be referred to the Student Judicial Affairs, which can impose a variety of sanctions that can extend all the way to University expulsion. Please feel free to ask your instructor about how to integrate secondary materials into your own writing. For a full copy of the University code, see: http://sa.berkeley.edu/code-of-conduct. For guidelines on plagiarism, see: http://sa.berkeley.edu/cite-responsibly

 

Required books: They can be found here https://calstudentstore.berkeley.edu/courselisting/index/loadMaterials. Please use only the editions specified. I have created a pdf of the Olle Häggstrom book on account of the difficulty in finding a used copy (see files in b-courses where many of the course readings can be found). 

 

 

Tue., Jan. 22

Module I: Classic Social Theory and Human Nature

 

Thu., Jan. 24 Gianfranco Poggi on Karl Marx; Ann Cudd “Is Capitalism Good for Women?”;   Victoria Bateman https://unherd.com/2017/11/capitalism-suffering-crisis-care/?=sideshare

Tue., Jan. 29 Poggi on Emile Durkheim; Maurice Godelier “What is Society?”

Thu., Jan. 31 Poggi on Max Weber; Enzo Traverso “Discipline, Punishing, Killing”

 

Tue., Feb. 5 Olle Häggstrom “Engineering Better Humans”, pp. 38-84; Mark Walker “Transhumanism”.  Recommended movie: “Gattaca”

 

Thu., Feb. 7 First Midterm

Module II: Capital

 

Tue., Feb. 12 Robert Allen Industrial Revolution: A Very Short Introduction skim entire

Thu., Feb. 14 Marx, Capital, Preface, Afterword, Chapters 1-3; recommended movie: “The Young Karl Marx”

Tue., Feb. 19 Marx, Chapters 4-6

Thu., Feb. 21 Marx, Chapters 7-11

Tue., Feb. 26 Marx, Chapters 12-15

Thu., Feb. 28 Marx, Chapters 16-32

Tue., Mar. 5 Marx, Capital, pp. 383-482

 

Thu., Mar. 7 Second Midterm

Module III: Western Modernity

 

Tue., Mar. 12; Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View  from the Future, pp.ix-34; Haggstrom, pp. 1-37; Richard Fisher “The Perils of Short-termism: Civilization’s Greatest Threat”    

  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190109the-perils-of-short-termism-civi...

 

Thu., Mar. 14 Oreskes and Conway, pp. 35-80

Tue., Mar. 19 Häggstrom, pp. 140-170 and 226-251

 

Thu., Mar. 21 Third Midterm

 

Spring Break (read as much of Lewis and Maslin as possible)

 

Module IV: The Anthropocene

 

Tue., Apr. 2 Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin, The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, pp. 1-188; https://www.artpapers.org/amitov-ghosh-the-great-derangement/ (recommended)

 

Thu., Apr. 4 Lewis and Maslin, pp. 189-294

Tue., Apr. 9  Lewis and Maslin, pp. 295-441

Thu., Apr. 11 Fourth Midterm

Module V: Technology and Society

 

Tue., Apr. 16 Jamie Susskind, Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech, pp. 1-88 Recommended: Episodes of “Black Mirror”

Thu., Apr. 18 Susskind, pp. 89-152

Tue., Apr. 23 Susskind, pp. 153-256; Zeynep Tufecki “It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech” https://www.wired.com/story/free-speech-issue-tech-turmoil-new-censorship/

Thu., Apr. 25 Susskind, pp. 257-312

Tue., Apr. 30 Susskind, pp. 313-366

Thu., May. 2 Review and Evaluations

 

FINAL: 1/3RD on Susskind; 2/3rd comprehensive.

 

ISF 100 C Language and Identity
  • MWF 1-2
  • Xu
  • Cory 247
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 25137

This course examines the role of language in the construction of social identities, and how language is tied to various forms of symbolic power at the national and international levels. As the saying goes, “A language is a dialect with an army and navy” – but how so? Questions about language have been central to national culture and identity, and the languages we speak often prove, upon close examination, not to be the tongues of ancestors but invented traditions of political significance. People have also encoded resistance into non-official and ambiguous languages even as the state has attempted to devalue them as inferior forms of expression. Drawing on case studies from Southeast Asia, Europe, Canada, and the U.S., we will pay special attention to topics such as the legitimization of a national language, the political use of language in nation-building processes, the endangerment of indigenous languages, and processes of linguistic subordination and domination.  This course will be interdisciplinary in its attempt to understand language in terms of history, politics, anthropology and sociology. We will not only study how language has been envisioned in planning documents and official language policy, but also analyze how speakers enact, project, and contest their culturally specific subject positions according to their embodied linguistic capital. 

ISF 100 K Health and Development
  • TTH 9:30-11AM
  • Quamruzzaman
  • Davis 534
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 26519

Development is often defined as a process of economic growth. Only recently there has been a growing disagreement about this definition and scholars argue that development should be understood as a process of improving human conditions. Health is an important indicator of human development. It is still not conclusive whether economic growth automatically translates into better population health and whether healthy population is a precondition of economic growth because there are other factors that affect both health and development. This course will focus on this debate and examine social, political, demographic and epidemiologic determinants of health in relation to levels of economic development.

ISF 189 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research Methods
  • TTH 12:30-2PM
  • Quamruzzaman
  • LeConte 385
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 19720

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 3-4PM
  • Xu
  • Latimer 121
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 31763

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
  • MW 10-11AM
  • Xu
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17491

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 2-3PM
  • Bhandari
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17492

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
  • TTH 8-9AM
  • Kelkar
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17493

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
  • TTH 2-3:30
  • Quamruzzaman
  • Evans 2
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 17494

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.