Research skills: What is good science?
Full course description
Students in the first year of the European Studies curriculum have encountered numerous studies of the integration of Europe, European identity, and the history and formation of the European Union. For the researchers who compose these studies, this type of work is usually considered to be "scientific." But what does it mean to describe research as scientific? Are the social sciences "science" in the same way that the natural sciences are? Can researchers subject the social world to the same methods and expectations that are used to know the natural world?
This research training provides students with ideas and concepts that will help them reflect on these questions. We begin by studying the work of the philosophers Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper who studied the nature of scientific knowledge: what it is, how it develops and progresses, and how it is verified. From there we move to questions concerning the nature of social scientific knowledge and the divide between the social and the natural sciences. We conclude by reviewing and comparing the paradigms, methods, and conceptual frameworks that characterize the discipline of European Studies.
This course will enable students to think seriously about how the development and verification of knowledge can be studied across different disciplines while also giving students important concepts and perspectives that can help understand the philosophical dimensions of European Studies.
Skills element: • Mastering demanding philosophical texts; • Writing analytic answers; • Carrying out differentiated academic debates. Content element: • Learning about some fundamental philosophical and methodological approaches to science/social science; • Appreciating the complexity and elusiveness of concepts like “objectivity”, “fact” and “observation”.
To be announced. Please see course manual.