Join the teaching team for “Sense and Sensibility and Science,” a popular Big Ideas course in its sixth year. Taught by an interdisciplinary faculty team of Saul Perlmutter (Physics), Alison Gopnik (Psychology), and John Campbell (Philosophy), the course aims to equip students with the tools of scientific critical thinking. Students learn about the many ways humans are prone to fooling ourselves, and about the techniques scientists have developed to prevent bias and work productively with uncertainty. This spring, the team will expand its well-established curriculum by developing additional materials for teaching these ideas in a data science context.
The teaching team is looking for graduate student instructors who have a passion for active learning and who want to make the world a better place, especially those with experience in scientific research, statistics, data science, mediation, philosophy of science, and/or who have worked on policy questions that require scientific input.
About the Sense & Sensibility & Science Course
Every day, we need to make decisions as individuals, as groups, and as a society, where our choices depend on understanding facts about our world. Yet, it can be difficult to find out exactly how our world works, and how the systems and processes within it interact – especially when those processes involve human behavior. It is too easy for us to fool ourselves, and to end up believing things about the world that just aren’t true. Fortunately, science has developed a variety of tools to sidestep the ways we trick ourselves and to help us make better decisions.
Our vision is a future where everyone can use scientific reasoning to mind our own biases, be aware of what we don’t know, and deliberate together about problems big and small. For example, we avoid fooling ourselves in some cases by testing apparent relationships between variables with statistical tests and using blinding procedures in research studies. Or we use probabilistic language (and thinking) to stay open to a claim being found to be wrong. Our curriculum also includes techniques for group decision making that help students deliberate better, even with those they might disagree. We teach the tools of scientific thinking in a straightforward, user-friendly way, with activity-and-discussion-based experiential learning, so that students can easily apply them in personal and civic life. As a GSI, you’ll use active learning techniques to teach these tools to Berkeley students, helping them navigate a world rife with misinformation and contentious public debate.
The team is seeking motivated graduate students with experience in teaching active learning courses. Candidates can come from a variety of backgrounds, including (but not limited to) the sciences, psychology, philosophy, education, and public policy. A variety of skills, background knowledge, and forms of expertise are desirable, but not required. These could include: familiarity with statistics, philosophy of science, experience conducting scientific or social scientific research, and experience with policy that requires science. This year, the team is looking for some of the applicants to have experience in data science or in the teaching of data science (ideally in addition to the skills listed above) to help us create more new curriculum materials for the course.
To learn more about the course, please visit sensesensibilityscience.com/
If you are interested in joining the team, please complete this short questionnaire:
The department will schedule interviews at the end of September, and plan to fill the positions by the end of October. For questions or further information about the course, the hiring process, or other matters please email sensesensibilityscience@