Objective: The course entitled “Description of controversies” is aimed at introducing students, on admission to the School, to the rather vague universe of scientific and technical research. The aim is to learn how to map out subjects which are often the subject of an advanced technical appraisal and which, at the same time, have become somewhat complex issues combining legal, ethical, economic and social dimensions. The course therefore develops aptitudes for qualitative surveying and gives students a vital complement to their skills in formalizing, modelling, analysing and calculating as required elsewhere in their other courses.
Programme: (End and evaluation of 1st semester course C9301)
Students work in groups of five, comprising a “head of controversy”, a “statistician”, a “webmaster” and two “reporters”. Each group is required to choose a controversial issue on which it will have to collate comprehensive documentation combining the various types of media (newspapers, the Web, specialized magazines, professional periodicals and “grey” literature, etc.) which it will have subsequently to analyse. Students are not required to adopt a particular stance or to give their opinion as experts, but rather to describe as carefully as possible the whole range of positions, the dynamics of debates, the technical arguments exchanged and their interpretation by the various media, together with the reasons for such developments. At the end of the year, the study of each “controversy” will give rise to a restitution in the form of a website accessible through the School’s Intranet. The site will be the subject of an evaluation which will take account of the quality of the documentation, the relevance of the argumentation and the choices of presentation which will have to meet the criterion of the most appropriate approach to the specificity of the “controversy” studied.
In addition to a number of lectures provided by external contributors, the course will be based on small groups of students working in close collaboration with their tutors and using the tools developed in the library. These classes will introduce the students to methods for following up the “controversies”, the fundamentals of the sociology of sciences and technology and the philosophy of scientific argumentation, the analysis of the media as well as new methods of “scientometrics” and “virtual geography” increasingly developed on the Web.
Last Modification : Wednesday 11 July 2012