Courses Offered by Affiliated Faculty

AFRC/SOCI   307-401            Dorothy Roberts        

Race, Science, and Justice

This course draws on an interdisciplinary body of biological and social scientific literature to explore critically the connections between race, science, and justice in the United States, including scientific theories of racial inequality, from the eighteenth century to the genomic age. After investigating varying concepts of race, as well as their uses in eugenics, criminology, anthropology, sociology, neuroscience, and medicine, we will focus on the recent expansion of genomic research and technologies that treat race as a biological category that can be identified at the molecular level, including race-specific pharmaceuticals, commercial ancestry testing, and racial profiling with DNA forensics. We will discuss the significance of scientific investigations of racial difference for advancing racial justice in the United States.             


AFRC/SOCI   338/620 338/660         Tukufu Zuberi

Exhibiting the Black Body

This course concerns the exhibiting of Black Bodies in Museums and gallery spaces. We will trace the evolution of public history from the "Cabinets of Curiosity" in 18th and 19th Century Europe, through to the current institutional confirmation of the vindications traditions represented by Museu Afro Brasil (Sao Paulo, Brazil), National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington.), and the Museum of Black Civilization (Dakar, Senegal). We will give particular attention to "why these representations at these times in these places?." In the process of addressing these questions we will give voice to the figures who conceived the curatorial content from those with the colonial mentality, to those with the abolitionist and nationalist and Pan-African visions.


AFRC/SOCI   535  305/533   Spring  Tukufu Zuberi

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

Race and ethnicity are, above all, both converge as system of ideas by which men and women imagine the human body and their relationships within society. In this course we will question the concept of race and ethnicity and their place in modern society (1500 - 2020). While the course reviews the pre-1500 literature our focus will be on the last 500 years. This course reviews the research that has contributed to the ideas about ethnicity and race in human society. The review covers the discourse on race in political propaganda, religious doctrine, philosophy, history, biology and other human sciences.


HSOC 145      Fall      Projit Mukharji

Comparative Medicine

This course explores the medical consequences of the interaction between Europe and the "non- West." It focuses on three parts of the world Europeans colonized: Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Today's healing practices in these regions grew out of the interaction between the medical traditions of the colonized and those of the European colonizers. We therefore explore the nature of the interactions. What was the history of therapeutic practices that originated in Africa or South Asia? How did European medical practices change in the colonies? What were the effects of colonial racial and gender hierarchies on medical practice? How did practitioners of "non-Western" medicine carve out places for themselves? How did they redefine ancient traditions? How did patients find their way among multiple therapeutic traditions? How does biomedicine take a different shape when it is practiced under conditions of poverty, or of inequalities in power? How do today's medical problems grow out of this history? This is a fascinating history of race and gender, of pathogens and conquerors, of science and the body. It tells about the historical and regional roots of today's problems in international medicine.

Taught once every academic year. Open to all students, fulfills two sector requirements.



HSOC/STSC 219                  Fall      Sebastián Gil-Riaño           

Race, Science, and Globalization

This course examines how the practice of sorting humans into distinct races is connected to the rise of modern science and to the economic globalization sparked by Columbus’ arrival in the Americas in 1492. By examining the trajectory of race in science from the Iberian conquest of the Americas until the present, we will examine the ways in which colonial logics and structures persist into the present and the ways they’ve been disrupted by various revolutionary, anti-colonial, and anti-racist movements. Along the way, we will observe how cultural ideas about race have been woven into the conceptual fabric of modern scientific disciplines such as anthropology, biology, psychology, and sociology and how these disciplines have sought to redeem themselves from their racist pasts. 

Usually offered in the Fall semester.


HSOC 248      Spring              Ramah McKay

Health, Politics, and Social Movements

What is the relationship between health and social movements for race, gender, or political justice? How do political, economic, and social struggles intersect with, impede, or give rise to new demands for health, changing medical practice, or intensified or ameliorated experiences of disease? Recently, such questions have animated news headlines and popular media as responses to COVID have occurred simultaneously with popular protest, social mobilizations, and heated debates regarding race, police violence, and social policy. Moreover, convergences of popular protest, health crises, and health action can be observed in historical accounts and in widely disparate geographical examples. This course asks what such instances have to offer our understandings of health politics today. It explores this through two questions: how have questions of health and medicine been taken up or influenced by political and social movements in diverse historical and geographical spaces? And, how have scholars thought about the relationship between social and political mobilizations and health access and practice? Drawing from examples from around the globe, the course will ask students to master conceptual tools and core questions used to analyze the relationship between health, political mobilizations, and social movements. Course materials will include scholarly readings, news media accounts, films, and popular and fictional writing. This course is offered in alternate years and is capped at 26. Seminar.


HSOC 258                  Fall                  Projit Mukharji

Law & Medicine: Global Themes

The course will explore the complex relationship between Law and Medicine in the modern world. It will cover a range of themes such as the regulation of quackery, forensic science, medical malpractice, medical patents and biopiracy etc. The course will be historical in its orientation and roughly cover the period from the late seventeenth century to the present. It will also focus particularly on the Majority World, looking especially at case studies from Asia and Africa.

 New course potentially offered every other year. Open to all students, explores.


HSOC/STSC 338      Spring  Sebastián Gil-Riaño

Hybrid Science

What role did science and medicine play in the creation and growth of the Spanish and Portuguese empires? And why was the creation of science and health institutions crucial to the revolutionary movements for independence in Latin America? This course examines science and medicine in Latin America by attending to the ways that knowledge of nature and health has been central to the political struggles of the countries in this region. A crucial dynamic shaping the history and culture of this region is the interplay between the healing practices and cosmologies of European settlers, indigenous Americans, and the descendants of African slaves. Bearing this interplay in mind, the course explores how Latin America has been a fertile site of scientific creativity. It also examines the ways in which Latin American scientists and medical experts have refashioned concepts and practices from Europe and North America to fit local circumstances. 

Usually offered in the Spring Semester.


HSOC 452      Fall      Meggie Crnic, Ph.D.

Race and Medicine in America

Race has been, and remains, a central issue to the delivery and experience of healthcare in America. This course will explore a variety of issues and case studies to examine how the patient-doctor relationship has been negotiated, defined, and contested upon the basis of race. Although this is taught as a Capstone course, no prior research experience is required or expected. This course is designed to further develop students’ research, analytical and writing skills in a collaborative atmosphere.

Seminar, enrollment limited to 16 students.


LAW   734-001            Spring              Dorothy Roberts           

Reproductive Rights and Justice

This course will explore the law governing reproductive health and freedom in the United States from both reproductive rights and reproductive justice approaches. According to If/When/How, “The reproductive rights framework is a legal model that serves to protect an individual’s right to reproductive decision making. The reproductive justice framework employs a broader, intersectional analysis that emphasizes the ways that race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age, and immigration status can affect a person or community’s reproductive lives.” We will therefore discuss both court decisions that focus on adjudicating constitutional rights and scholarship and advocacy that seek to promote social justice. We will also take a broad view of reproductive health and freedom that extends beyond access to abortion to include regulation of pregnancy and birth, parenting, adoption and foster care, assisted reproductive technologies, contraception, and sterilization.

Class Discussion: All students are expected to read the assigned materials, attend class, and be prepared to participate in class discussion every week. To facilitate discussion, a different panel of students will help to lead the discussion each week. You should be prepared to answer questions about and comment on the readings for the day your panel is designated. Others may join the discussion as time permits. If you anticipate missing class on the day of your panel, please let me know as soon as possible.


MSSP 609        Fall      Nicole Sansone           

 InvisibleInjustices: How Policy and Bureaucracy Create (and Hide) Difference and Power

How does the design of everyday objects and systems in our social word —from the workplace to the civic sector—produce variation in our political participation to promote or stifle the collective project of social justice? Systemic injustice expresses itself in everything from software interface designs to paper passport applications. Using these objects and others, this course focuses on the ways in which power operates through and within aesthetics to create and enforce difference and produce the inequalities that demand a collective reimagining of our world. What might we learn from these “aesthetic assemblages” of power and difference, and their manifestations in current social policy?

 In this course, we will work with case studies from a range of politically urgent topics—mass incarceration, immigration reform, healthcare inequity—through the lens of critical theories and pedagogies that center the lives of those communities most impacted by discriminatory social policy. Students will learn to apply the thinking of scholars such as Fred Moten & Stefano Harney, Dean Spade, and Mel Chen towards their own social justice-informed approaches to social policy and practice. Through independent study projects, students will explore their own unique areas of interest beyond the scope of this course to rethink how critical theory can shape and be shaped by on-the-ground, everyday practices.



Synchronous discussion sections on Thursdays 8pm-9:30pm


MSSP   710      Fall      Ezekiel Dixon-Román

Democratizing Data: Critical Data Studies in Algorithmic Governance

With the advent of digital technologies and the increasing power of computational analytics, the proliferation and ubiquity of data production has increased at exponential rates enabling new possibilities for social analysis. This course will examine the emergence of democratizing data – the movement to make government and other data more widely or publicly available and its potential enabling for democratic possibilities. The types of data being made available, through various analytic systems, and the ways in which their accessibility and inaccessibility is contributing to reconfigured power relations, will be described. The paradigmatic tensions and shifts that have emerged in the debates on “Big Data,” such as deductive versus inductive reasoning and the challenges posed to statistical sampling theory, will be interrogated. The appropriation of machine learning and predictive analytic algorithms for social analysis will be critically explored. Issues related to the ethical and legal use of administrative data, particularly data related to patient, client, student, and taxpayer information will be considered, as well as from internet-based sources including social media. Potential solutions to data security challenges will be additionally considered.

Methods for web-scraping of data, analysis of web traffic data, and the use of social networking data in the modeling of social phenomena and public opinion will be examined. Students will learn how to make results accessible to non-technical audiences via data visualization tools, such as web-based data dashboards and web-based maps. These topics will be discussed for the analysis of health, education, and social policy as well as their implications for questions pertaining to race, gender, class, sexuality, dis/abilities, age, and youth culture. This course will develop students’ knowledge of computational and data analytics and its applications for social policy analysis.


MSSP   780      Spring  Ezekiel Dixon-Román

Policy & Difference in Postmodernity

Social constructions of “difference” permeate the institutions, spaces, and assumptions of our society. These social constructions include but are not limited to the racialized, gendered, sexed, classed, and dis/abled constructions of the body. By leaning on postmodern thinkers such as Iris Marion Young, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Ernesto Laclau, and Michel Foucault, this seminar course will begin by engaging the questions of what is “difference” and how is “difference” discursively constructed and reproduced in society. Using a postmodern lens, the remainder two-thirds of the course will engage various social science text that deal with the varieties of “difference” (i.e. race, gender, class, sexuality) and the explicit and/or implicit policy implications of these works. Thus, we will critically engage policies such as welfare, affirmative action, economic policies of taxation, and same-gender marriage among others. The underlying questions throughout the course will be to what extent does social policy enable the possibilities of freedom, justice, and democracy for the “Other”, the deviant, the abject, the marginalized, those of assumed “difference”? And, to what extent does policy constrain those possibilities at the same time?

School of Social Policy & Practice,


MSSP   701                  Spring  Ezekiel Dixon-Román

Race, Technology & the Body

The history of the relationship between race and technology has long been fraught. On the one hand, the sociopolitical formation of race constituted black and brown bodies in juxtaposition to the logics of reason that the instruments of post-Enlightenment technicity were built. On the other hand, as Wendy Chun argues, the discursive formation of race was a technology in and of itself that was designed to hierarchize and differentiate bodies as well as to make black and brown bodies extracted technologies for labor and Capital. This seminar will explore this deeply enmeshed history between race and technology by engaging text in the history of science and philosophy, critical theories of technology, cybernetics, and critical theories of difference. These texts will range in topics from the transparent subject to surveillance studies to algorithmic bias to the speculative fiction of Afrofuturism. The text will include both scholarly written products as well as media and popular culture. Students will learn about the history of philosophy and technology in relation to race and the (em)body as well as how to examine for speculative futures.

School of Social Policy & Practice, Spring Semester


PHIL   025      Quayshawn Spencer   

Philosophy of Science

What counts as a scientific theory? What counts as evidence for a scientific theory? Are scientific inferences justified? Does science give us truths or approximate truths about a world that exists independently of us? How can we know? Does it matter? These are all perennial questions in the philosophy of science, and the goal of this course is to look at how philosophers have answered these questions since the scientific revolution. In addition to reading classic work by philosophers of science, we will read material from living and dead scientists in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the philosophical questions that have troubled the most brilliant scientists in Western science.

Offered Every Year; satisfies SAS's math & natural science sector requirement


PHIL   291      Quayshawn Spencer   

Philosophy of Race

Historically, philosophical questions about race have been about the nature and reality of race, the nature of racism, and social or political questions related to race or racism. In fitting with that history, the first part of the course will focus on the nature and reality of race, as understood in biology and as understood by ordinary people. We will begin by looking at biological race theories from Francois Bernier in 1684 to Pigliucci and Kaplan in 2003. Next, we will look at the philosophical work that has been done on the nature and reality of race as ordinarily understood in the contemporary United States. We will discuss racial anti-realism, social constructionism about race, and biological racial realism from well-known philosophers of race like Anthony Appiah, Sally Haslanger, and Joshua Glasgow. The second part of the course will focus on the nature of racism and social or political questions related to race or racism. In our discussion of racism, we will cover, at least, intrinsic racism, extrinsic racism, and institutional racism. In our discussion of social or political issues related to race or racism, we will look at whether any US racial groups should be used to diagnose, study, or treat genetic disorders.

SAS, undergrad seminar, Philosophy, Every year


PHIL   525      Quayshawn Spencer   

Race and Biology

For the last four centuries, scientific research has provided our most reliable understanding of the world. Although the scientific revolution started modestly with attempts to understand stellar movement, we now know the age and constitution of the universe, the basis of heredity, and we can make and break chemical bonds at will. By all appearances, science seems to have made substantial progress from the scientific revolution to the global scientific enterprise of the 21st century. This course is about how science has generated this knowledge, and whether it has been as progressive and reliable as it seems. We will consider methodological issues such as the sources of scientific knowledge, objectivity, the growing importance of computation in the natural sciences, and the nature of modeling. We will examine products of scientific research: explanations, models, theories, and laws of nature. And we will discuss questions about science and values, including whether non-scientific values can and should enter scientific research, the relationship between science and religion, and the role of the public in guiding the scientific enterprise.

SAS, graduate course & undergrads with permission, Philosophy, Every two years


PHIL   558      Quayshawn Spencer   

Science and Objectivity

Graduate course & undergrads with permission, Philosophy, Every two years


PHIL   XYZ    Quayshawn Spencer   

Metaphysics of Race

Graduate course & undergrads with permission, SAS, Philosophy, Every two years (new graduate course)


SOCI   339/632           Fall      Tukufu Zuberi

Demography of Race

This course will examine demographic and statistical methods used to capture the impact of racial stratification in society. This course covers the skills and insights used by demographers and social statisticians in the study of racial data. A key challenge facing researchers is the interpretation of the vast amount of racial data generated by society. As these data do not directly answer important social questions, data analysis and statistics must be used to interpret them. The course will examine the logic used to communicate statistical results from racial data in various societies. We will question the scientific claims of social science methodology by extending the critical perspective to biases that may underlie research methods. We will discuss good and bad practices within the context of the historical developments of the methods.



STSC   082      Fall      Andi Johnson

Sport Science in the World

The science of sport occupies a peculiar space in the world today. On the one hand, sport science may seem to be just a niche field where teams of physiologists, psychologists, geneticists, engineers and others work to make already very athletic people go “faster, higher, stronger.” On the other hand, the work of sport scientists intersects everyday with far-reaching questions about how categories of sex, age, race, disability, and nationality are—and have been—defined, measured, challenged, or maintained. Sport scientists weigh in on debates over what kinds of physical activity or bodies are “clean,” what kinds of performance are “natural” or even human, and what kinds of sporting spaces or equipment are “fair.” We’ll read and discuss historical, sociological, and anthropological accounts of sport science of the past 120 years, cross-cutting and connecting different national contexts.

16-person seminar, designed for first- and second years, no pre-requisites


STSC   289      Spring  Sebastián Gil-Riaño

Technologies of Self and Society

As European empires expanded in the late eighteenth century, “social science” began to emerge in the lexicons of Western societies. Since these early beginnings in European imperialism, the social sciences have sought to represent, alter, and govern human existence while struggling to define “society” as something separate from “nature”. This class examines how questions concerning the proper management of self and society are central to the ambitions and dilemmas of modern social sciences. We begin by tracing the origins of social science in late-eighteenth century thought and their professionalization in the nineteenth century. Continuing through to the twentieth century, we will observe how core social science disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and psychology attempted - in the name of anti-racism - to carve out distinct niches in opposition to biology and genetics. The course also examines the dramatic growth of the social sciences during the cold war period thanks to military funds. Our examination of cold war social science will focus on how social scientists began carving up the world into different “area” of study and how they became increasingly oriented towards re-making individual psyches and societies in the “third world” to fit the image of an industrialized “West”. The course will conclude by examining calls from indigenous scholars and scholars in the global South to decolonize social science.

Usually offered in the Spring Semester