Your first major assignment is a group project in which you will design and lead one class. Groups will be determined on the first day of class and each will be assigned a topic area. As a group you will research a historical episode of your choosing within your topic area and, working closely with me, develop a plan for presenting it. After completing your week of instruction, you will write a short reflection piece about the experience.


Why are we doing this?
This assignment has two main objectives. First, it is a mechanism to allow you to use your own interests to guide the direction of the course. HPS is a staggeringly large, diverse field, and giving you the opportunity to shape the syllabus allows this course to be tailored to the individual interests of this particular class.

Second, this assignment prompts you to develop deep knowledge of a topic to complement the general kinds of understanding an introductory course necessarily emphasizes. We learn things most thoroughly when we teach them to others, and so by teaching a topic to your peers you will come to understand that topic in depth and will better appreciate how it reflects general course themes.


What are we doing?
This assignment contains both a group and an individual component

Group Component

  1. Topic statement and bibliography: This one-page document should explain what your topic is, why you chose it, and list the key materials you used to understand it, including the list of readings you would like to assign to your peers. Due two weeks before your assigned week.
  2. Lesson plan: One week before you are due to teach, your group should submit a detailed outline of what we will be doing in class. It should include the topics to be covered as well as any lectures, films, in-class activities, etc. Keep in mind that you have a great deal of flexibility in using both classroom and campus resources when designing your classes. Work closely with me throughout the planning process.
  3. Classroom component: The time you spend leading class is considered part of the assignment. Be sure that all members of your group are usefully engaged.

Individual Component

  1. Statement of importance: When your group submits its statement draft, you should individually produce a short (250 word) statement that describes why you think the topic your group chose is important.
  2. Post-teaching reflection: One week after you teach you will submit a 500-word reflection on the experience. The reflection should answer three questions: What did you learn in the process of the assignment? What did you think worked well? What might you have done differently?


First day of class: Groups are assigned
Three weeks before your teaching: Arrange a time to meet with me
Two weeks before your teaching: Topic statement and bibliography; Statement of importance
One week before your teaching: Lesson plan draft
Week leading up to teaching: Work with me to revise lesson plan
One week after teaching: Post-teaching reflection


Choosing a topic
The topic area assigned to you is very broad, and so you will need to narrow it down. Two things to consider as you do this are theme and disciplinary perspective.

Topic areas:

Scientific knowledge


I will assign you a topic area, but within that you are free to choose the specific examples you use and how you approach them. You must include a historical component, but you could decide to focus, for example, on the sociology of scientific knowledge, the anthropology of gender, or philosophy and politics. Confer with me as you narrow down your topic, as I can help you identify literature in these areas.


All told, this assignment constitutes 20% of your grade. That 20% decomposes as follows:
-        5% - Topic Statement and Bibliography
-        5% - Lesson Plan and Classroom Performance
-        5% - Statement of Importance
-        5% - Post-teaching reflection


A successful course module will…
-        identify a clear subject and theme within the topic area, articulate its relevance, and supply applicable readings;
-        develop a lesson plan that is clear, substantive, and which gets your colleagues to engage with the material;
-        use each member of the group effectively both during the planning phase and during class;
-        reflect on the experience in a way that shows critical engagement with the process from beginning to end.