Current Graduate Courses

 IHPST Graduate Courses 2021-22 (mode of delivery still to be determined)


HPS1000H:  Introduction to History and Philosophy of Science Pro-Seminar

Brian Baigrie

Day & Time: Fridays 12-2
Course description:  The HPS1000H Pro-Seminar (2021-22) will be dedicated to experiment (a form of reasoning) that is now widely regarded as the ultimate factfinder in science. What are the grounds for the conviction that experiments are the ultimate factfinders? On what grounds can be it claimed that experiments are uniquely privileged with respect to factfinding? How can we sort out experimental success from experimental failure? Given the richness and diversity of experiment across different fields of inquiry (the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, the social sciences, etc.), can we even have a general (philosophy) of experiment

We will explore the philosophy of experiment (and its historical construction) through case studies (Kuhn referred to this as teaching philosophy by example), starting with Bacon and Boyle and through the study of primary course material attempt to unpack some of the historical circumstances and cultural determinants that institutionalized experiment as our best defense against uncertainty.

HPS1500H Research Paper (MA students only)

HPS1500H Research Paper provides MA students the opportunity to undertake original research in the social and humanistic studies of science, technology, and medicine with the goal of developing the student’s capacity to effectively engage and contribute to existing scholarly literature.  IHPST graduate students who wish to take HPS1500H must draw up a detailed course plan with a member of the IHPST graduate faculty who is prepared to provide supervision, and submit a Request for Reading and/or Research form that must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. NOTE: HPS1500H can be taken in the fall or the winter term.


HPS2003H:  Introduction to the History of Biology

Marga Vicedo

Day & Time: Mondays 10-12
Course description: This course provides an overview of selected major developments in the history of the life sciences, mainly in evolution and genetics in the late 19th and 20th centuries.  It also examines key historiographical questions in the history of science.  Each week we focus on one historical event and also on one historiographical issue in the history of science, but we will strive to connect them to earlier events and debates. The readings include primary sources, secondary sources, and historiographical discussions. We learn to interpret primary texts and use secondary literature in developing historical arguments.


HPS3009H:  Slavery, Medicine and Science in Historical Perspective

Lucia Dacome

Day & Time: Thursdays 10-12
Course description: This course examines historical entanglements of science, medicine, and slavery. It articulates a critical reflection of both the many ways in which medicine and natural inquiry supported the institution of slavery and the settings in which slavery was integral to the production of modern medical and natural knowledge. At the same time, the course aims at casting light on the epistemic role of enslaved individuals and communities in the histories of science, medicine and technology. In recent years, a growing number of scholars have examined the institutional apparatuses of imperial science and medicine, paying special attention to the mobility of individuals, knowledge, practices, objects across the globe. However, the place of slavery in historical processes of production, movement and transfer of natural and medical knowledge has only started to be explored. This course draws attention to entanglements of slavery, science and medicine in different settings and regions. It considers how the study of these entanglements can potentially shift our perspective on the way we think and write about our discipline. Key themes and topics include the examination of the place of slavery in histories of: medicine and anatomy; gender and generation; medical experimentation; collecting and natural history; the rise of racial science and the making of collective identities; bodies, violence and the archive.


HPS3010H:  Social Epistemology

Jossi Berkovitz

Day & Time: Tuesdays 10-12
Course description: Traditionally, epistemology has dealt with the ways in which an individual acquires knowledge through perception and reasoning. However, in recent years it has become apparent that the traditional discussions of knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, fail to capture important aspects of the social dimension of knowledge. We acquire most of our beliefs from the testimony of others, including experts, and from social institutions that are in charge of the generation of knowledge. The relatively recent branch of philosophy that deals with the social dimensions of knowledge is called social epistemology. It has developed through dialogue with the history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge, anthropology, and philosophy of science. The course will provide an introduction to social epistemology, in general, and social epistemology of science, in particular. It will deal with various aspects of the nature of knowledge from this new perspective, including issues such as the development of scientific knowledge, ‘knowledge that’ (something true) vs. ‘knowledge how’, the influence of social and cultural factors on scientific methodology, scientific rationality and scientific knowledge, scientific realism vs. social constructivism, distributive cognition, holism vs. methodological individualism, trust, expertise, consensus, distributive epistemic injustice, and feminist epistemology.


HPS4020H: Postcolonialism and the Global Turn in Science & Technology Studies

Elise Burton

Day & Time:  Tuesdays 2-4
Course description: This seminar introduces graduate students to the role of postcolonial theory in generating a “global turn” in histories of science and the multidisciplinary field of science & technology studies (STS). We will analyze and discuss the key critiques of historical and social studies of science by postcolonial scholars, debate the theoretical and methodological significance of ideas like “global perspectives,” the “Global South,” and “non-Western science” in STS. To evaluate the impact of these ideas on the field, we will review recently published case studies applying postcolonial approaches to histories of science, technology, and medicine. Students will also have the opportunity to compare these approaches with the related but distinct concepts of decoloniality emerging from Indigenous studies, and to consider how postcolonial STS can inform their own ongoing research.”


HPS4011H:  Cognitive Technologies: Philosophical Issues and Debates

Karina Vold

Day & Time: Fridays 10-12
Course description: Many technological developments have brought with them significant changes in both the modes and scope of human thinking, including how we learn, how we remember, and how we perceive and engage with the world. This seminar will introduce graduate students to philosophical issues and debates that arise from the development of cognitive technologies. We will analyze and discuss key epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues that sit at the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of technology, and neuroethics. Topics covered will include situated views of cognition, cognitive artifacts, cognitive enhancement, and artificial intelligence.

HPS4040H:  Computing and Information from Babbage to AI

Chen-Pang Yeang

Day & Time: Tuesdays 12-2
Course description: In this course, we examine the history of modern computing and information technology and science from the calculating engines during the Industrial Revolution to today’s Artificial Intelligence.  We concentrate on their technical developments, political, institutional, and cultural contexts, and societal implications.  We review the central scholarly works and selected primary sources on the subject.

HPS4300H:  The Historian’s Craft: Sources, Methods and Approaches

Nikolai Krementsov

Day & Time: Thursdays 12-2
Course description: This graduate seminar offers an introduction to the principles of research in the history of science, medicine, and technology (HSMT). Through a close examination of classic texts and recent publications in the field, it focuses on sources, methods, and approaches in the practice of HSMT. We will explore the major genres—history of ideas, individuals, institutions, disciplines, and networks—as well as the main modes of analysis—intellectual, social, and cultural—employed in the field. The seminar will emphasize the development of skills essential to the profession—good writing, attentive reading, analytical thinking, concise presentation, academic debate, and historiographic and methodological knowledge. Each week, we will examine in depth a particular genre or level of analysis based on assigned readings and book presentations.