Anthropology Department

Science, Environment and Technology Studies (SETS)

Within Reed’s curriculum, the SETS track within Anthropology brings a uniquely anthropological lens to the broad array of topics covered in critical science and technology studies and environmental studies. Such a focus acknowledges the importance and centrality of interrogating the diversity of cultural understandings and practices involved in relations between humans, technology, scientific practice, and the environment. Anthropology’s central concepts and methodological approaches provide unique perspectives on diverse human interactions with physical and biological elements (ranging from chemicals, geological formations, forests, water, animals, microbes, computer codes), the production of scientific knowledge based upon these interactions, and emerging technologies. This work informs critical analysis of science and environmental policies, as well as related social phenomena, conveyed in the teaching and advising in SETS within the Department of Anthropology. Anthropological approaches to science, environment and technology issues require specific programmatic approaches, including a proficiency in ethnographic methods, such as participant observation, structured interviews, and field notes, as well as a familiarity with anthropology’s foundational conceptual frameworks.

The Anthropology-SETS concentration allows students to bring together a rigorous foundation in anthropology with in-depth coursework in MNS fields and SETS-related courses across the college. Students should plan the concentration in close consultation with the adviser, seeking out a course of study in MNS fields and across the college that both fulfills group, divisional, and major requirements and explores the relationship between science, environment, technology, and society from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The concentration must be approved by the students’ adviser when the major is declared. Students may petition the department for exceptions to the allied fields requirement.

Department Requirements

  1. Proficiency in a non-English language demonstrated by successful completion of secondary education in that language, successful completion of two units of college-level courses at a second-year level or one unit at a higher level, successful completion of a language placement examination approved by the department, or approval of the department.
  2. A minimum of seven units of anthropology coursework, including a) Anthropology 211, b) one area course, c) one 400-level course, and d) two SETS anthropology courses.
  3. Junior qualifying examination.
  4. Anthropology 470 (SETS-focused thesis)

Allied Field Requirements

A minimum of five units of courses from the Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. One unit must be from an upper-level course, defined as a course beyond the first-level or introductory sequence (see below for specific departments). These units must be college-level courses, with at least half taken at Reed. Students may not use test scores to fulfill this requirement. Prerequisites may be required for these courses. Allied field courses must be from at least two of the following disciplines:

  • Biology (upper-level coursework is courses beyond Biology 101 and 102).
  • Chemistry (upper-level coursework is courses beyond Chemistry 101, 102, and 201).
  • Physics (upper-level coursework is courses beyond Physics 101, 102, and 201).
  • Mathematics (upper-level coursework is courses at the 200-level and above).
  • Computer Science (upper-level coursework is courses beyond Computer Science 121 and 221; Computer Science 315 does not meet the allied field requirement).
  • Statistics (upper-level coursework is courses other than Mathematics 141). Two additional statistics courses are also required for the allied field requirement. A list of courses is below.
  • Another mathematical and natural science discipline approved by the anthropology department.

Statistics courses offered at Reed

  • Math 141 - Introduction to Probability and Statistics (Prerequisite: three years of high school mathematics)
  • Math 241 - Data Science (Prerequisite: Math 141 or equivalent)
  • Math 243 - Statistical Learning (Prerequisite: Math 141, or experience with linear regressions and programming.)
  • Math 343 - Statistics Practicum (Prerequisite: Math 243, or Math 241 with permission of the instructor.)
  • Math 391 – Probability (Prerequisites: Math 113 and 202)
  • Math 392 - Mathematical Statistics (Prerequisite: Math 391 or consent of the instructor)
  • Econ 311 - Survey of Econometric Methods (Prerequisite: Econ 201)
  • Econ 312 - Theory and Practice of Econometrics (Prerequisites: Econ 201 and Math 141 or similar introduction to statistics, or consent of the instructor)
  • Psych 348 - Research Design and Data Analysis
  • PoliSci 311 - Introduction to Quantitative Analysis in the Social Sciences
  • Soc 311 - Research Methods (Prerequisites: Soc 211 and one additional unit in sociology)
  • Soc 380 - Networks and Social Structure (Prerequisites for sociology credit: Soc 211; for political science credit: PoliSci 240 and one upper-level international relations course)

Anthropology of Science, Environment and Technology Studies Courses

  • Anth 201 Topics in Contemporary Anthropology: Anthropology of Global Health
  • Anth 201 Topics in Contemporary Anthropology: Global Political Ecology 
  • Anth 201 Topics in Contemporary Anthropology: Decolonizing Archaeology
  • Anth 308 Social History of Obsidian
  • Anth 3XX African Technoscience
  • Anth 341 Medical Anthropology
  • Anth 342 Language and Medicine
  • Anth 360 Country and City in Latin America
  • Anth 375 Anthropology of Science 
  • Anth 377 Labor, Value, and Land in India 
  • Anth 378 Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism
  • Anth 387 African Bodies: Medicine, Labor, Modernity
  • Anth 397 Media Persons Publics
  • Anth 442 Ontological Politics
  • Anth 465 Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity

SETS-related courses from across the college

Students are strongly encouraged to seek out complementary courses that speak to themes in science, technology and environmental studies that they are interested in. For example, the histories and cultural politics of environmentalisms; the ethics and efficacies of statistics and quantitative methods; the histories and cultural politics of medicine and/or public health; the nature, ethics and politics of the laboratory; comparative histories and philosophies of science; or critical media and technology studies.

From the 2019-2020 Catalog

  • ART 181 - Architectonic Structures
  • ART 190 - Art and Photography I
  • ART 195 - Digital Imaging/Processing
  • ART 196 - Digital Video/Interactive Art
  • ART 291 - Art and Photography II
  • ART 292 - Drawing with Light
  • ART 293 - Internet Literacy, Culture, and Practice
  • ART 294 - Photography in the Expanded Field
  • ART 346 - Introduction to Media Studies (Crosslisted with German 346)
  • ART 361 - Intermediate Photography and Digital Media
  • ART 365 - Intersection: Architecture, Landscape Sculpture
  • ART 374 - New Media/Old Media—Experiments in Optical Media and Computation
  • CSCI 315 Ethics and Public Policy
  • ECON 351      Environmental Economics
  • ECON 352      Natural Resource Economics
  • ECON 354      Economics of Science and Technology
  • ECON 391      Health Economics
  • ECON 392      Health in Poor Countries

  • HIST 240        World Environmental History
  • HIST 270        Introduction to American Environmental History
  • HIST 302        Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Change
  • HIST 310        Water and the American West
  • HIST 312        The Environmental History of the American West
  • HIST 313        Wildlife in America
  • HIST 317        The American Earth: U.S. Environmental History in the Twentieth Century
  • HIST 323        Rice in East Asia
  • HIST 339        Science and Islam: Global Histories
  • HIST 337        Battle of the Books: The Beginnings of the Modern Sciences
  • HIST 344        The Psychoanalytic Tradition in Historical Perspective
  • HIST 345        Whole Earths, Globalizations, and World Pictures
  • HIST 360        Histories of the Anthropocene

  • LIT 346           Introduction to Media Studies (also German 220/Art 346)
  • LIT 362           Red Sci-Fi: Science Fiction in Soviet Literature and Film (also RUS 362)
  • LIT 366           Literature of Destruction (also RUS 366)
  • LIT 375           Chinese Strange Writing: From Ghost Stories to Sci-Fi (also CHIN 375)
  • LIT 392           Nuclear Literatures: A Comparative Approach (also (RUS 392)
  • LIT 361           Decentering the Human (also SPAN 361)

  • PHIL 205        Introduction to Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 316        Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 318        Philosophy of Biology
  • PHIL 411        Advanced Topics in Metaphysics (Topic: The Metaphysics of Science)

  • POL 344         International Environmental Politics
  • POL 359         Weapons, Technology, and War
  • POL 368         Environmental Politics and Policy
  • POL 442         Nuclear Politics
  • POL 444         Global Risk Politics
  • POL 469         Food Politics and Policy

  • SOC 326         Science and Social Difference
  • SOC 350         Sociology of Science