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Science, Medicine, Technology and Society

Contagions, Virality and Disease
Illustration Credit: Czarlyn Trinidad (NT '21)

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The theme of this program connects the urgency of the present moment to their interdisciplinary study in the liberal arts. Understandings of the ‘contagious’, the ‘viral’, and ‘disease’ have provoked debate throughout history, across literature, media, and cultural expression, and woven through religion and theories of the self. This cluster of courses, which may be taken individually or in combination with each other, focuses on a central issue of our time across various historical, cultural and discursive contexts.

Perfect for the student interested in medical or health career paths, these courses will help students complete core requirements as Tulane undergraduates, including: service learning, race and inclusion, and writing. They will build students’ fluency in a range of disciplines and engage the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies in order to understand and address current crises in new and surprising ways.

Learn more about The Science, Medicine, Technology and Society Working Group in Liberal Arts.

Courses Include:

  • HISU 2100: History of Medicine in the U.S. (early summer)

    Dates: June 01-July 02 (5 weeks; online) MTWRF, 12:00-1:30 pm
    Tuition $3,420: (3 credits)
    Instructor: Karissa Haugeberg (History)

    Students in this course will study the social dimensions of medicine in world history, with a focus on U.S. history. We will examine how ordinary people have been affected by pandemics, advances in medical technologies, and changing ideas about healthcare. Students will consider how ideas about medicine have been shaped by economic, military, political, and social transformations in U.S. and world history. In addition to reading scholarly essays and books, we read fiction, listen to podcasts, and watch films to better understand our past and our present. Counts toward the Race and Inclusion, Tier 1 Writing, and Textual and Historical NTC core requirements.

  • DMPR 3910: Contagious Surveillance

    Dates: May 17-28 (2 weeks; online) MTWRF, 1:00-5:00 PM
    Tuition: $4,560 (4 credits)
    Instructor: Jacquelyne Howard (Technology and Women History)

    This seminar examines the historical and contemporary relationships between contagions and practices of modern surveillance. This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary theories of surveillance studies such as discipline, control, capitalism, media, and data privacy during times of crisis, as it relates to race, gender, and inclusion. Seminar discussions will include cases where patriarchal power and racialized systems were used to promote perceptions of security, fear, exposure, and control. As praxis, students will use rapid response research strategies to design and produce a digital media project that uses technology tools such as maps, visualizations, textual analysis, and/or audio-visual production. These products will analyze how surveillance technology is used during health crises to control bodies as it relates to concepts of race, gender, and power. Digital media skills will be taught in this course. All technical skill-levels are welcome. Counts toward the Race and Inclusion NTC core requirement.

  • JWST 2811: Trauma and Its Inheritance

    Dates: June 01-July 02 (5 weeks; online), MTWRF 2:00-3:30 PM
    Tuition: $3,420 (3 credits)
    Instructor: Merissa Nathan Gerson

    “Trauma” has become a buzz word, tossed around casually, but what does it really mean? This class will look at trauma, inherited trauma, and ways in which large terrors, horrors, and atrocities impact the construction of culture, relationships, lives, and communities. When a horror passes, is it gone? Where do the wounds of Covid 19, the loss of life to a pandemic, and the total reorganization of the world go when no longer acute? What about murders, when no longer a shock, do their impacts disappear? Who is impacted by the leftovers of slavery, wars, genocides, and more? And how?

    Deconstructing accepted narratives that bypass horror, this class will look at ways in which the erasure of history is normalized, and how to begin to pay attention to what “lies beneath.” This will look at the psychology of trauma, PTSD, and intergenerational trauma and will include personal history projects, and local historical exploration of the documentation and memorialization of the good, and the bad, of what came before us. Additionally, this course will address intercultural ideas about how to heal these wounds.

  • ENLS 3630: Writing Science: Communicating Covid-19

    Dates: July 06-August 06 (5 weeks; online) MTWRF, 11:00-12:30 PM
    Tuition $4,560 (4 credits)
    Instructor: Mary Glavan

    Science explains the world, but writing explains science. In this course, students will learn to write about science in ways that are clear, reasonable, and inclusive. Good writing is not simply about grammar; it is also about conveying sound information, reasoning ethically, and in many cases, promoting justice. The course centers on Covid-19, and students will crowdsource research on vaccines, mask mandates, reopenings, and other student-generated topics. Because all writing is political, our work will directly address inequities in underserved communities. Each student will choose a single topic to compose a persuasive scientific essay, and then translate their argument into writing targeted at the public: memes, op eds, and public awareness websites. Bonus points if you go viral! This course has a Tier 2 Writing Intensive option towards NTC requirements.

  • COMM 3811: Spectacular Afflictions: Viral Media & Disability

    Dates: July 06-August 06 (online), MTWRF, 3:00-4:30 PM
    Tuition: $3,420 (3 credits)
    Instructor: Krystal Cleary

    This course examines the intersection of media representations and technologies and discourses about disability and health during Covid-19. Our interdisciplinary approach to virality will thus include analyses of three interconnected themes: the disabled/sick body as a chronic public spectacle; viral media; and the mediation of pandemic life. We will approach disability as an identity, social category, analytic, and axis of power that intersects with race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship. Disability helps us understand our viral times and, as such, our course will include discussions of "crip wisdom"–the knowledge generated by scholars and activists with disabilities and chronic illness–for surviving and thriving in a public health crisis. At the nexus of media studies and critical disability studies, students will learn about the historic exhibition of bodily difference and its legacy in contemporary media from reality television to inspirational memes. Our media analysis well extend to mediated representations of life during Covid-19 (such as Netflix's Social Distance) and how media is coming to culturally define the pandemic (Zoom and Netflix's Tiger King).

  • SOCI 2220: Sociology of Medicine

    Dates: May 17-May 28, (2 weeks; online) MTWRF, Time: 1:00-5:00 PM
    Tuition: $3,420 (3 credits)
    Instructor: Mariana Craciun

    Few institutions compare to medicine in their expertise and power over human life, health, illness, and death. This class is an introduction to the social scientific analysis of medicine, health, and illness. We will discuss the current organization of health care financing, how experts and non-experts define illness, and how such definitions vary across time and place. We will illuminate disparities in health and ask what the role of social factors is in shaping people's life chances. In addition to reading scholarly articles, we will rely on popular media, writing by physicians themselves, TED talks, and documentaries, to deepen our understanding of medicine, illness, health, and society.

Registration for current Tulane students:
Registration information for non-Tulane students:

Contact Information
For additional information about School of Liberal Arts Summer Programs, please contact Kendre Paige.

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