Race and Science OpenCourseWare: A Free Undergraduate Social Science Course Exploring Race and Racism by MIT

Published Feb 05, 2009

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Science has been used--and abused--to justify racist assumptions throughout history. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology addresses this subject in 'Race and Science,' an OpenCourseWare examination of race in the context of scientific discourse. Students interested in or currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology may find valuable information in this free online course.

Race and Science: Course Specifics

Degree Level Free Audio Video Downloads
Undergraduate Yes No No Yes

Lectures/Notes Study Materials Tests/Quizzes
Yes Yes No

Race and Science: Course Description

Through much of human civilization, the assumption that different skin colors corresponded to biological distinctions was widely accepted. This misconception about racial inequalities led to the formation--based on race and backed by science--of a hierarchy of human populations. However, although scientific discourse bears responsibility for creating historical prejudices, it has also played a vital role in disproving them. 'Race and Science,' a course from MIT's Anthropology department, investigates the link between science and race, both in a historical and contemporary context. This lecture course was taught on the MIT campus by Professor Stefan Helmreich, who makes his lecture notes available online for OpenCourseWare students. Specifics topics covered in the lectures include Darwinism in Nazi Germany, eugenics, genomics, colonialism and Native America, citizenship, the Los Alamos incident, Afrofuturism and race in cyberspace. A major question posed by the course is whether or not racial logic has changed in our current scientific climate.

Students may access lecture notes, essay assignments and an extensive reading list for this OpenCourseWare. To study the negative and positive impacts of science on racial perceptions, visit the science and race course page.

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