Fall 2010 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
The goal of this course is to teach you to think critically about the nature of technology and its role in our lives and our society. In part this requires cultivating a healthy skepticism about two common, unreflective positions on technology: (1) the fanatical techno-boosterism of many science and technology magazines, in which technology is seen as the key to heaven on earth, and (2) a knee-jerk, slack-jawed, doom-and-gloom luddism and technology-bashing. While there is much to appreciate and much to be critical of in modern technology, both appreciation and criticism ought to be thoughtful and well-grounded.
This course will focus on four major sets questions: (1) What is technology? How do we define it, study it, understand its relation to nature and humanity? (2) What is the relation of science to technology? Are they wholly distinct, or are modern science technology best understood under the shared heading of "technoscience." What can we learn about one from the other? (3) What is the impact of technology on society and ethics? How should we think about this impact? Where is technology beneficial, and where is it problematic? (4) What is the impact of technology on human lives, ordinary, cognitive, and aesthetic? Does it degrade or improve? Does it make us smarter or hold us back? Do art and technology serve fundamentally different goals, or do they have important features in common?
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
College-level reading and writing of academic texts are pre-requisite. Must be willing to think critically and participate in class discussions.