Steven W. Collins
Explores how science and technology contribute to economic growth and human development, and how political processes shape and manage that impact. Examines historical and contemporary issues.
This is a graduate course intended for MAPS students interested in the impacts of technological innovation on business, the economy, and society. Key questions include: What are the sources of technological innovation? What causes an economy to grow, and what is the contribution of new technology to growth? Why do governments invest in scientific research? Through what political processes are science and technology policies made in the US and elsewhere? Can the policy process be made more democratic? Should it be? Historical and contemporary examples of technological innovation will demonstrate the interplay of science, technology, business organization, social and political institutions, and public policy in promoting and shaping technological change to serve human needs.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lecture and discussion, emphasizing the latter. Active and informed participation will be essential to success in the course.
Students should have taken BPOLST 500 before enrolling in this course. Appropriate undergraduate preparation includes an introductory economics sequence, courses in American politics, comparative politics, political economy, and history of technology.
Class assignments and grading
Students will complete a major research project. This may be a policy brief that advocates a solution to particular problem for which science and technology policy would be appropriate, or an in-depth case study of a particular technological innovation (or a problem associated with or caused by a technology) that explains the sources of the innovation, or problems associated with it, the role of public policy in shaping the outcome, and how public policy might have led to a more desirable outcome. The major project deliverable will be a report, 15-20 pages in length, including documentation. A professional-quality oral presentation of this research will also be required. In addition, there will be two or three question/problem sets based on assigned readings. In lieu of a final exam, students will meet with me individually for about 20 minutes at the end of the quarter to demonstrate orally that they have mastered the material; a list of review questions will be provided in advance.
Major research project Oral presentation of research project Problem/question sets Informed participation Oral final exam