Course Syllabus

Science, Technology and Society

OLIT 500-001 -- Fall, 1999

Dr. Jan Gamradt

Credit Hrs: 3


Prereq.: Grad or Non Degree

Home page:

Course page:

Phone: 277-6427

Office: Educ. Office Bldg. 107

Office Hrs: Tuesdays 11 - 12:15; Thursdays 2:15 - 3:45


Introduction and overview Welcome to OLIT 500 - Science, Technology, and Society! This trans-disciplinary seminar will provide an opportunity to read, reflect upon, and discuss ideas drawn from the emerging field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). STS scholars study the social, cultural, and institutional context of science and technology using perspectives and methods derived from the social sciences and the humanities. The focus of this course is on the interrelationships between technology, science, society, and education (defined broadly to include non-school and adult learning settings). A key issue to be explored concerns the question of how knowledge, expertise, and authority are constructed within cultural and subcultural groups. Another issue for investigation concerns the relationship between emerging technologies and the nature of "the self" in society. How might the material and technological environments in which we live alter our notions about, and experience of, our individual identities? What are the implications of changing notions about the self (and hence, human nature) for teaching, scholarship, parenting, social policy formation, and organizational life? Masters and doctoral students from all graduate programs are welcome. However, the class will be conducted as a doctoral level seminar.

Graduate study in STS should enhance your ability to make well-informed, creative, and ethical judgments about the implications of new and existing technologies for educational policy and practice. The course is designed to give you a chance to engage in wide-ranging, exploratory reading, combined with collegial discussion and analysis of philosophical, methodological, theoretical and policy-related issues.

One goal of the course is to help you further develop your ability "to think with wise circumspection about a technological society" (Postman, 1992, Technopoly, p. 4). After completing the course, you should able to recognize and articulate key ideas and issues associated with several approaches to the sociocultural analysis of science and technology (referred to in this course as "perspectives"). A second goal is encourage you to take a close, critical look at different ways of investigating the social effects of technological change. Part of the course will be devoted to examining the strengths and weaknesses of research methods and strategies commonly employed in STS studies.

Class attendance is an essential part of this course. However, if you must miss a class (or a part of a class) please ask a classmate to take notes for you, collects handouts, and generally fill you in on what you missed. Please do not call me to explain your absence from a particular class, but do call a fellow student. Unless formal arrangements have been made for you to take the course at a distance, missing more than two class periods will be serious cause for concern and may result in a reduction of your final grade for the course by one full grade.

Course texts (Required; available at UNM bookstore)

Hess, D. (1995). Science and technology in a multicultural world: The cultural politics of facts and artifacts. New York: Columbia University.

Gergen, K. (1991). The saturated self: Dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.

Gamradt, J. and others (1999). Readings and Handouts for Science, Technology and Society (OLIT 500-001). College of Education Photoduplication Center. (Wait for class announcement before purchasing.)

The following texts are recommended but not required:

Porter, David(1997). Editor, Internet culture, New York: Routledge.

Stefik, M. (1997). Internet dreams: Archetypes, myths and metaphors. Cambridge: MIT.

Spring, Joel (1992). Images of American life: A history of ideological management inschools, movies, and television, Albany, NY, State University of New York.

Course requirements

Your grade will be based on your participation in seminar discussions, your level of critical engagement with the subject matter (as illustrated in an academic product), and completion of independent readings (demonstrated in your annotated bibliography and mini-review).

  1. We will be reading and discussing a set of readings, including two course texts and selected supplementary readings. Please come to class prepared to actively discuss and critique each week's reading assignment.

II. Develop an individualized reading plan for the semester. In formulating your independent reading plan, rely on sources cited in Science and Technology in a Multicultural World, the "Anthropology of Technoscience" online bibliography (, and the OLIT 500 course bibliography. By September 30, submit a brief description of 1) the topic you plan to investigate, 2) the articles, chapters, and/ or books you plan to read, 3) an academic product you will produce to illustrate what you have learned and/or to help other people learn about your topic this term. [This product will be shared with classmates during the last few weeks of the term.] And 4) the reasoning behind your plan. If your interests shift during the semester, you can revise and resubmit your plan.

  1. Prepare an annotated bibliography summarizing the materials you have read on your own, or provide some other type of record of your independent reading work (notes, outlines, etc.). If you choose to create an annotated bibliography, your summary of each article or chapter should be no more than 200 words in length. Reading areas should focus intensively on a well-defined problem, issue or research topic in science technology studies. Specifically, I recommend that you choose one of the following three areas of focus: a) research and scholarship focusing on visual, digital, and/or media literacy, b) history of psychology or another field that has had an impact on social and organizational life, c) group and individual differences, culture, and technological change, d) public understanding of science, e) ethnographic studies of techno-science (science, high-tech organizational life, or biomedicine), f) Internet culture.
  2. Pick one area and develop your expertise in that area. As this is a graduate seminar, your aim should be to develop a high degree of mastery of the topic you choose to investigate.

  3. If you wish to be considered for an "A" grade in the course, write a brief, 5-page "mini-review" and synthesis of the materials read for your independent reading project.

Additional resources


J. Davies, Educating Students in a Media-Saturated Culture. Lancaster, PA: Technomic, 1996.

Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. New York: Routledge, 1991.

Don Ihde, Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction. New York: Paragon House, 1993.

Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital, New York: Vintage, 1995.

N. Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage, 1992.

Clifford Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway, New York: Doubleday, 1995.

Selected Social Science and Humanities Sources

Chronicle of Higher Education

Etcetera: A Review of General Semantics

History of Science

Human Organization


Journal of Applied Philosophy

Journal of Medical Humanities

Journal of Popular Culture

Journal of Social Policy

Journal of Social Issues

Knowledge and Society (not available at UNM)

Science, Technology and Human Values

Social Studies of Science

Last update: November 24,2000