Introduction to Science, Technology and Society

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Introduction to Science, Technology and Society Professor Peter Ross

STS 201 Office: Bldg. 1, Rm. 325

Fall 2013 Phone: (909) 869-3036

CRN 73421, 4 units e-mail:

Class meetings: M, W, F 9:15-10:20 Office hours: M, W 1-2; F 2-3

Location: Bldg. 5, Room 262 and by appointment

Science, Technology, and Society (STS) is an interdisciplinary area of research and teaching which focuses on the interrelation between science and technology (on the one hand) and society (on the other). STS takes this complicated interrelation as its object of study. Consequently, topics in STS include: (1) scientific epistemology; (2) interrelationship between science and technology (on the one hand) and public policy (on the other), and (3) public understanding of science (including public trust of scientific expertise). We’ll work our way through these topics.
Required Readings:

M. Bridgstock, D. Burch, J. Forge, J. Laurent, and I. Lowe, Science, Technology, and Society: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Most other readings for the course will be available in class; in a few cases, readings are available on the web.
Course Goals:

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Delineate intellectual foundations of science, including describe how science is different from pseudoscience, and how innovative scientific research is different from textbook science.

  2. Discern ways in which societal practices and attitudes influence the development of science and technology, for example, how local, national, and global political interests affect scientific inquiry and technological development.

  3. Discern ways in which science and technology impact society, for example, how they impact conceptions of our relation to the environment.

Requirements and Grading:

4-5 short response papers: 40%

"Tell me what you know" quizzes 15%

Term paper: 25% due Wed. 12/11, abstract due Mon. 11/18


Final exam 25% in class Mon. 12/9, 9:10-11:10

Write-ups of 2 professional presentations 10%

Attendance and participation: 10%

Short response papers: during the quarter you will be assigned 4-5 reading response papers. These papers are 1-2 pages long, and will be focused to answer specific questions about particular readings; these papers will be due a class or two following their assignment. They will be graded on the basis of clarity of reasoning and demonstrated effort. The primary goal of these papers is to engage you with some of the basic problems presented in the course.
Term paper: this paper is 2000 words (about 7-8 pages double spaced with 1" margins) with a 150 word abstract. A draft of the abstract, which must include a thesis statement, is due about three weeks prior to the due date of the paper; you should talk to me about your thesis prior to turning in your abstract. The goal of the term paper is for you to work out a sustained argument for a thesis.

Final exam: the final will be a comprehensive, essay-question exam.
Policy on late short response papers: late papers will be marked down according to the following guideline: for every class the paper is late, it is automatically marked down one whole grade (that is, if a paper due on Monday is turned in on the following Wednesday, it will be marked down one grade, for example, from an A to and B). Exceptions to this policy will be made only in the case of documented illnesses.
"Tell me what you know" quizzes: these will be explained in class.
Professional presentation write-ups: attend two professional presentations--either on or off campus--related to STS. Write 1-2 pages stating the presenter’s basic claim, and broadly describe some evidence given for this claim.
Tentative schedule for reading assignments ('' means the reading will be provided in class):

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