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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robin Datta
POL S 410
Seattle Campus

Technology, Politics, and the State

Relationships between politics, technological change, and development of multinational corporations. Considers whether the relations between political and economic systems of industrial societies have been fundamentally altered by the increased importance and interdependence of government, experts, and new technological possibilities for intervention in social life.

Class description

Robert Pool argues in his Beyond Engineering: How Technology Shapes Society that "modern technology is like a Great Dane in a small apartment. It may be friendly, but you still want to make sure there's nothing breakable within reach. So to protect the china and crystal, governmental bodies, special interest groups, businesses, and even individuals [demand] an increasing say in how technologies are developed and applied." In this course we will explore the complex relations between Pool's Great Dane, the apartment, and the inhabitants of that apartment—between technology, society, politics, and policy.

Beginning with an examination of theories of technology, we’ll proceed to a consideration of the impact of technology on society and conclude with a focus on contemporary technological conundrums that place demands on policy. Case studies will include, the politics of technological artifacts (Enola Gay), the impact of Social Media on the process of political change (Arab Spring), and the policy and political challenges of drone-based remote warfare.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

There will be some lecture but primary emphasis will be placed on seminar participation, presentation, and discussion.

Recommended preparation

Text: John Street, Politics and Technology. The Guilford Press, 1992.

Additional readings will be placed on Electronic Reserve and/or linked to the course website.

Class assignments and grading

Students in this class will lead seminar discussions, research, write, and present a seminar paper on a technological problem, and take a final exam.

Research Paper & Presentation (30%), Midterm (20%), Final Exam (30%), Reading and Seminar Response Blog + Seminar Participation (20%)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
http://www.polisci.washington.edu/home.html
Last Update by Robin Datta
Date: 05/23/2011