January 2021

Being Human in STEM

Listed in: Anthropology and Sociology, as SOCI-250  |  Biology, as BIOL-250  |  Chemistry, as CHEM-250  |  Latinx and Latin Amer Studies, as LLAS-250

Moodle site: Course


Sony Coranez Bolton (Sections 02J and 03J)
Sheila S. Jaswal (Sections 02J and 03J)
Leah C. Schmalzbauer (Section 01J)
Josef G. Trapani (Section 01J)


(Offered as BIO 250, CHEM 250, LLAS 250 and SOCI 250) This is an interactive course that combines academic inquiry and community engagement to investigate identity, inequality and representation within Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields--at Amherst and beyond. We begin the course by grounding our understanding of the STEM experience at Amherst in national and global contexts. We will survey the interdisciplinary literature on the ways in which identity - race, gender, class, ability, sexuality- and geographic context shape STEM persistence and belonging. We will bring this literature into conversation with our own Amherst experiences. These challenging conversations require vulnerability, openness and the ability to tolerate discomfort. We will work from day one to build a brave space whose foundation is trust, accountability and growth. Students will design group projects that apply themes from the literature and our seminar discussions to develop resources and engage the STEM community, whether at the college, local, or national level. Course work includes critical reading and discussion, reflective writing, and collaborative work culminating in community engagement projects which students will share with the campus and the broader public. The class will meet synchronously most days for the remote January term and will also involve asynchronous small group work.

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. This course will be taught in two sections, each taught by a partnering of a scientist and a humanist/social scientist. Each section will be limited to 18 students due to the remote format and the discussion- and project-based nature of the class.

January Term. Professors Jaswal, Corañez Bolton, Schmalzbauer and Trapani.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to ensure a mix of majors and class years.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Community Based Learning


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022