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Course Syllabus:: Making Security: Science, Technology, and the Governance of Threats

Making Security; Science, Technology, and the Governance of Threats

This summer, I am a Guest Professor at the University of Vienna’s Department of Science, Technology, and Society. I’ll be teaching a course called, “Making Security: Science, Technology, and the Governance of Threats.” I am super excited about this course, as it is the first time I will actually be teaching students with prior STS training! Run over less than a month, I had to be very picky in the types of readings I got the students to do so that they could still get the main ideas within STS and Security, but not get too stuck in the many debates that this area of research opens up. All comments are very welcome!

Content, Aims, and Methods

Emerging science and technology present potential problems for how states understand what counts as a security concern and what should be done about it. In this course, we work through the different ways that states think of science and technology as security concerns, how becoming concerned is tied to particular methods for governing those concerns, and how what counts as a security concern changes over time and space. We will explore a range of S&T areas (e.g. biotechnology, nuclear, cyber, and ‘mundane’ ones like string, water bottles, and phones), institutional mechanisms (export controls, norms, secrecy), and methods for handling S&T that is seen as anomalous within the existing system. For each class, students will be encouraged to find current news stories that speak to the topics under study. Every time I have taught courses similar to this, the news, (perhaps unfortunately) always delivers stories for easy analysis. Students will be central to the design of later parts of the course, where they will identify areas of S&T that they think are [not] of concern and then actively unpack the ways a state might [not] see the concern, and how to change the ways a state ‘sees’ concerns such that this area of S&T is [not] seen. The course culminates in a research paper that examines the context specificity of a technology of security concern, a governance mechanism for seeing concerns, or method for changing what counts as a security concern. Several excursions will be organized, access permitting, to international security governance bodies based in Vienna.

You can find the syllabus here.