New Courses for Fall/Winter 2022-2023

Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2022

HPS442H1: Science of Whiteness in the Middle East & Its Diasporas

Course instructor:  Elise Burton (24 Seminars)

Tuesdays 2-4

This research seminar traces the historical response of Middle Eastern societies and diasporas to Western scientific discourses of race and ethnicity from the 19th century to the present. We examine notions of racial classification and hierarchy as they emerged in Islamicate and European imperial contexts and their scientific application to Middle Eastern populations. We further investigate how the nationalist ideologies of modern Middle Eastern nation-states relied on and perpetuated race science. Finally, we consider the experience of Middle Eastern migrants to Europe and North America and their engagement with scientific definitions of Aryan, Caucasian and white racial identity. 

Prerequisites: A minimum of 4.0 course credit or instructor’s approval
 Recommended Preparation: 1.0 credit in HPS, History, Philosophy, NMC, Anthropology, Sociology, or related humanities fields
 Depth Requirement Status: This is a Humanities course
 Breadth Requirement: Society and its Institutions (3)

Winter 2023

HPS331H1: Global History of Mapping Sciences

Course instructor: Adrien Zakar (24 Lectures, 10 Tutorials)

Fridays 10-12

Maps are pervasive in our world: so indispensable, and so disposable that thousands are made, used, and discarded every day. Yet not long ago, maps were both rare and strange technological things. When and why did modern mapping systems come into being? Behind this transformation lie contentious stories of objects and people, makers and users, global forces and local dynamics, metropoles and colonies, and technologies and cultures. Focusing on the modern period, each week illuminates maps and their importance in our world by focusing on a keyword, such as power, territory, worldmaking, boundaries, imperialism, capitalism, literacy, verticality, and countermapping. 

Distribution Requirement Status: This is a Humanities course
Breadth Requirement: Society and its Institutions (3)

HPS340H1:  The Limits of Machine Intelligence

Course instructor: Karina Vold (24 Lectures, 10 Tutorials)

Tuesday 1-3
 With the recent headline-making breakthroughs in deep learning neural networks (DNNs), it might seem that we are on the cusp of living with artificial systems that match or exceed human intelligence. But there remain longstanding philosophical challenges around the definition of intelligence that AI researchers use, how they measure the performance of their systems, and what DNNS could really be capable of, that still need addressing. For example, how close are DNNs to passing the Turing test? How close are we to building general intelligence and what do we need to get us there? How can we draw fair and meaningful comparisons between artificial and biological systems? We will draw on material from the history and philosophy of science to evaluate and inform current debates around the limits of AI. For example, we’ll consider what kinds of explanations DNNs can provide. We’ll also look at how debates between the rationalists and empiricists (e.g. Locke, Hume, and Kant) inform current debates between AI nativists and empiricists. This course explores these questions through contemporary texts across the fields of philosophy of science, artificial intelligence, comparative psychology, and cognitive science, among others.  

Prerequisite:  Completion of 4.0 credits including 0.5 credit in any HPS/ PHL/ COG course, or the permission of instructor 
 Recommended preparation:  HPS220H1, HPS255H1, PHL342H1, COG250H1  HPS250H1
 Distribution Requirement Status: This is a Humanities course
 Breadth Requirement: Society and its Institutions (3)