Science and Technology in Contemporary Society

Using computers and nuclear weapons as case studies, this course will introduce you to important dimensions of science and technology in our society, namely

1. impact of technological development on everyday life,
2.
debates about the cultural significance of science and technology
3.
the ideological foundations and significance of scientific developments
4.
approaches to social policy in technological growth.

The class will function as a service-learning course that grants four credits. Members of the class will work with adolescent and adult residents from the North Capitol and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods of Washington, DC as part of a joint effort between Georgetown University and our community partners to bridge the "Digital Divide" between middle class and working class people in America. We will meet weekly with our community partners to share knowledge about computer technology, build and learn to use computer tools such as community webpages, enter, analyze and present research data using computerized data bases, and investigate the role of computers in potentially addressing social problems such as youth violence. As the final assignment for the class, the community partners, Georgetown students and professors will collectively prepare proposals to submit to various federal agencies for funding to support the program.

What will Georgetown students receive from this approach to the class?
1. a fourth credit for this course
2.
experience working with inner city youth in an ongoing service-learning project
3.
enhanced understanding of information technology
4.
knowledge of and experience writing a research grant proposal
5.
experience developing approaches to a major social policy issue.

Key Texts:

US Dept of Commerce, NTIA: Falling through the Net: A report on the Telecommunications Gap in America,

Hugh Gusterson, Nuclear rites: a weapons laboratory at the end of the Cold War

Stefan Helmreich, Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World

Lisa Yoneyama, Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space and the Dialectics of Memory

Gene I. Rochlin, Trapped in the Net: the Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization

Collection of readings about grant proposal writing.

Grading:
You will receive grades on three exercises.

1. Critical book review of Rochlin·s Trapped in the Net (30 points)
2. Midterm examination (40 points)
3.
Research Paper (30 points)

Critical Book Review: Prepare an analysis of Gusterson·s book highlighting and assessing the validity of key points. Limit of 5 pages typed, double-spaced.

Midterm Examination: You will prepare one question from a list of questions given to you on the last class prior to the examination date. You will write the answer during class on the examination date using notes, books etc. This will only cover material about nuclear weapons

Grant proposal: Write a 25 page typed, double-spaced grant proposal being developed as part of the "Bridging the Digital Divide" project. You will write and submit this paper as an individual even though you will be working with a group preparing the proposal.

Science and Technology in Contemporary Society
Project on "Bridging the Digital Divide"

The US Government has identified a "Digital Divide" separating knowledge, access to and applications for information technology between middle class and working/underclass Americans, particularly with respect to having computers and Internet access in the home (US Department of Commerce 1999). With respect to inner city adolescents, the computer gap functions as an aspect of their overall diminished opportunities when compared with middle class adolescents. Community-based organizations serving these neighborhoods also have less access to information technology than organizations in more affluent communities. Georgetown University has partnered with residents and organizations in the neighborhoods to help overcome these conditions. The project helps inner city students learn about information technology while investigating issues in the life of their community such as housing for immigrants and the underlying causes of interpersonal violence. The project also has built a web-enabled community information bank designed to archive, analyze and display important statistics about the neighborhoods and their resources. The class will join these efforts and, through the systematic and collective preparation of grant proposals, seek funds to sustain them.

We will divide ourselves into three groups with two groups working with adolescents in North Capitol adolescents and one group working with Mt. Pleasant residents and leaders. Each group will meet at least one time per week in the neighborhoods. During these meetings, the groups will work on various projects that the are developing concerning life in their neighborhoods. Approximately every three weeks, we will meet altogether to work on and review progress on the grant proposals.

Group One
Co-instructor: Sam Marullo, Ph.D.
Topic: Causes and methods to reduce violence to and among adolescents
Participants: North Capitol adolescents from Tyrrell Middle School and Georgetown students

Group Two
Co-instructor: Anita Bonds
Topic: Youth and Computers: the case for and against
Participants: North Capitol high school adolescents from the Village Network and Georgetown students

Group Three
Co-instructor Krishna Roy
Topic: "State of the Latino Community"
Participants: Staff of the Council of Latino Agencies (Mt. Pleasant)

ASSIGNMENTS

The Impact of Technological Development on Everyday Life

August 31 & September 5
Film: Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb: classic Stanley Kubric film about the logic of nuclear detante.

September 7
Class meets at Perry School Community Center – bus transportation will be provided. Meet at entrance to St. Mary·s Hall at 4:15 pm.

September 12
Text: US Dept of Commerce, NTIA: Falling through the Net: A report on the Telecommunications Gap in America, p 1-88 inc charts
On reserve in Lauinger library
Or: http://www.digitaldivide.gov/reports.htm

September 14
Project: Meet with community partners

September 19
Text: Rochlin, Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization, pgs. 3-128

September 21
Project: Meet with community partners

September 26
Text: Rochlin, Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization, pgs. 129 – end

September 28
Project: Class meets at Perry School Community Center for review of progress and work on grant proposal

Debating the Cultural Significance of Nuclear Weapons

October 3
Text: Hugh Gusterson: Nuclear Rites, p. 1 – 164
Paper Due: Critical review of Rochlin, Trapped in the Net

October 5
Project: Meet with community partners

October 10
Text: Hugh Gusterson: Nuclear Rites, p. 165- 250
October 12
Project: Meet with community partners

October 17 & 19
Film: Remembrance of August
October 24
Text: Lisa Yoneyama, Hiroshima Traces, p. 1-84

October 26
Project: Class meets at Perry School Community Center for review of progress and work on grant proposal

October 31
Text: Lisa Yoneyama, Hiroshima Traces, p. 85-150

November 2
Project: Meet with community partners

November 7 (Tuesday)
Project: Meet with community partners

November 9 (Thursday)
Text: Lisa Yoneyama, Hiroshima Traces, p. 150-218

November 14
MIDTERM EXAMINATION IN CLASS

November 16
Project: Class meets at Perry School Community Center for review of progress and work on grant proposal

November 21
Film: Black Rain

November 23 THANKSGIVING – NO CLASS

IDEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENTS

November 28
Film: Black Rain
Text: Stefan Helmreich, Silicon Second Nature, p 3-106

November 30
Project: Presentations of "Specific Aims & Background and Significance" at Perry School Community Center

December 5
Text: Stefan Helmreich, Silicon Second Nature, p. 107-256

December 7
Project: Presentations of "Research Design & Methods and Budget" at Perry School Community Center
December 12
Project: Submit grant proposals

School: Georgetown University
Professor: Jeff Collmann, Ph.D.
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