Steven W. Collins
Examines the role of public policy in managing the tradeoffs between benefits and risks of new technology. Discusses how to evaluate U.S. technology policies against the standards of democracy, economic efficiency, and social justice.
Explores the institutions, politics, and policy processes involved in the conduct of scientific research and technological development in the US. Topics include the federal and state roles in science and technology (S&T), history of US science policy, and controversies in such areas as bioethics, governance of the internet, science and engineering education, and protection of intellectual property. Special attention will be given this quarter to the political and technical challenges associated with the changeover to renewable energy, a focus of the current Obama Administration's science and technology policies.
Student learning goals
Identify the key stakeholders in US science and technology policy.
Describe the process by which federal science and technology policies are made and implemented.
Describe the historical development of science and technology policy in the US, culminating with the approaches and priorities of the current Obama Administration.
Understand the possibilities and limitations of renewable energy technologies; be able to assess their prospects and to propose coherent, feasible policies for securing future energy supplies.
Develop capacity to identify and analyze problems in science and technology, propose policy solutions, and communicate results orally and in the form of a written policy brief.
General method of instruction
Seminar format, with a high level of student participation expected.
This course is recommended for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. As a 400-level course, it builds on a foundation of knowledge of government, history, and economics. Students should have done coursework in at least one of the following subject areas: American government, politics, economics, political economy, US history, public policy, and STS (science, technology, and society). Familiarity with the conventions and style of social science writing is also expected.
Class assignments and grading
Short reading response essays, Informed, intelligent class participation, Policy brief (~10 pages, 15 pages for graduate students) on an issue in science or technology for which a policy action is thought to be necessary, and oral presentation of brief. Short in-class quizzes.