Georgia Tech Lorraine, European Platform of the Georgia Institute of

Georgia Tech Lorraine, European Campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology
Technology and Society (HTS 2084RMZ)
Summer 2012
Course Syllabus
Timothy Stoneman
School of History, Technology, and Society
[email protected]
Course Description
Historians, sociologists, and philosophers of technology study the ways in which social,
political, and cultural choices influence the design of artifacts and the process of
scientific research. Contrary to what you may have been taught as engineers, design is not
a purely rational process. Human choices, laden with value judgments, inform every
stage of the engineering enterprise, from conception and invention through innovation,
marketing, and final production.
This course takes an historical approach to the study of how human values have shaped
engineering practice by looking in depth at a wide range of historical case studies drawn
from both civilian and military technologies in the United States. The four examples
covered in the course include 20th century American systems of mass production, fast-food
franchising, the decision to drop the atomic bomb, and the development of the Internet. The
goal of the course will be not only to enhance students’ understanding of individual case
studies, but to increase their appreciation for the social nature of technological change –
that is, how political, social, cultural, and personal values infuse the design, production, and
diffusion of material products.
Course assessment will be done on the basis of the following formula:
Written assignments
Georgia Tech Lorraine is a serious academic program. Class attendance is required. Roll
will be taken daily. If possible, please let me know in advance if you cannot attend class.
Students may have two unexcused absences during the semester. Further unexcused
absences will result in the loss of half a letter grade. Students are expected to pay
attention in class. All weekly written assignments must be typed and are due by Friday at
6pm via T-Square, except the final assignment, which is due July 25. There will be no
tests or assignments due on Tuesday (or following a long weekend) and no unannounced
quizzes. The final exam will cover the material since the midterm, except for main
concepts covered in the Introduction. Grading will be done on a letter basis and will be
rounded up on the half percentage point (i.e. 89.5% = A). Final grades will not be
available until after the Monday following the end of the exam period through Oscar
(August 6).
Honor Policy
Students are expected to abide by the Georgia Tech honor code. All infractions will be
handled through the Office of the Dean of Students and treated with the highest degree of
Reading Material
Required textbooks:
J. Samuel Walker, Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of the
Atomic Bombs against Japan (UNC, 1997, 2004)
Additional reading material will be made available on T-Square.
Course Schedule
The course will follow the following lecture and reading schedule:
Weeks 1-2
Weeks 3-4
Weeks 5-6
Weeks 7-9
Weeks 10-11
Fordist mass production
Fast food and McDonaldization
Decision to drop the atomic bomb
Origins of the internet
Special dates:
June 13
June 20
July 4
June 30-August 2
No Class (Field Trip)
Midterm Exam
Field Trip (No Class)
Final Exams
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