Steven W. Collins
Introduces the historical development of science and technology and their interaction with social, cultural, and political forces across time and space.
Turning points in the global history of science and technology, from the classical civilizations of Europe and Asia to the contemporary era. Special attention will be given to the sources of invention and innovation, role of science and technology as drivers of social and cultural change, and ways in which scientific knowledge and inventions connect across time and space.
Student learning goals
Gain insight into the nature of invention and innovation as forces of economic, social, and cultural change.
Understand how political, social, and cultural context shapes the practice of science and focuses inventive activity.
Deepen historical understanding of the classical civilizations of Greece, Rome, and China, the Islamic Renaissance, the scientific and industrial revolutions in Europe, and the spread of science-based industrialization worldwide in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Apply course concepts to an in-depth study of a particular scientific idea or technological artifact chosen by the student (with the class as a whole studying the history of flight).
General method of instruction
Blend of lecture, video, and discussion (whole class and small group)
No prerequisites. Previous coursework in history, especially world history, would be helpful but isn't required. Past courses in science, computing/software, and business (especially management of innovation) will have given students a sense of the challenges of producing, using, and managing scientific knowledge.
Class assignments and grading
Homework questions, research paper (7-8 pages) on the history of a technology or scientific idea (topic chosen by student from list of suggestions provided by instructor); one or two exams. In some variations of the syllabus, weekly quizzes replace the midterm, and the final exam is take-home.