Peter Sachs Collopy: Teaching

I teach university courses on media studies, U.S. history, the history of science and technology, and their intersections. Pedagogically, I’m interested in participatory education and in introducing my students directly to the texts and objects they’re studying. I put a lot of effort into my syllabi, and always appreciate when other instructors draw from them in developing their own courses.

I’m currently teaching The Evolution Debates, a general education history course at the University of Southern California on the intertwined histories of evolutionary thought in science, politics, and religion. It is based around extensive primary source readings and contact with the USC Libraries’ collections of rare books in natural history and theology.

In spring and fall 2016, I taught America in the Cold War World, 1945–1991 at USC. This upper-level undergraduate seminar brought together historiographical traditions from diplomatic history to American studies to make sense of how Americans lived their lives and exercised power during the Cold War. My students produced online exhibits of some of their research.

At the University of Pennsylvania, I developed and taught an introductory undergraduate seminar on Technology and Society in fall 2014. We used the history of technology to understand how technologies affect social relations, and conversely how the culture of a society shapes the technologies it produces.

In summer 2013, I developed and taught an undergraduate seminar on Cyberculture at Penn. Each class we discussed an aspect of the history, culture, and materiality of the internet, covering topics such as hackers, virtuality, sovereignty, and algorithms. I incorporated a variety of print and online texts, images, and videos into our discussions, as well as artifacts including a Sony portapak and an Apple II.

The previous summer, Jason Oakes and I taught Emergence of Modern Science, a history of science survey course, together at Penn. We focused on scientific spaces, tools, and practices by recreating experiments by Newton, Oersted, and Faraday, and by visiting Penn’s collection of rare books from the Scientific Revolution, the exhibit Wonders of the Microscope!, the Rittenhouse Orrery, the Wagner Free Institute of Science, and four panels of the ENIAC.