Spring 2018

On Time: In Political Thought and Scientific Observations

Listed in: , as COLQ-203


David S. Jones (Section 01)
Theresa A. Laizer (Section 01)
Andrew Poe (Section 01)


From evolution and extinction, to nuclear holocaust and the Anthropocene, our scientific understanding of time and Earth history suggest real political effects. This course offers an interdisciplinary approach to the concept of time, exploring both the ways we conceive of time scientifically and the political consequences of such conceptions. Is there a changing material basis to our human conception of time? What logics and observations undergird such interpretations? How could our changing conceptions of time and natural history reorient our understanding of the human and political agency? What possible notions of agency (emancipatory or authoritarian) appear in the wake of such transformations? Engaging such questions requires a diverse array of resources, and this course will approach these problematics with theories and observations from political science and geology. We will trace the parallel development of politically theoretic and scientific ideas on time, encountering how these discourses contend and inform each other. Possible readings include scientific arguments about time from Hutton and Lyell to Kelvin, Patterson, and contemporary Earth historians, as well as political reflections on the concept of time, including Whitehead and Bergson, to Benjamin, Lyotard, and Meillassoux. Through these literatures, we aim to uncover how specific political problems may be linked to particular scientific notions of time and history, and ways we might respond in our contemporary politics. This course will have both seminar and laboratory components.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professors Poe and Jones.

If Overenrolled: Preference to juniors, and then a mix of seniors and sophomores and first years.


Science & Math for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018