Course Description 
TMP 352 - 1 Science & Technology Policy

Spring  2008

Instructor: Professor Anita Jones, Olsson Hall 223, 982-2224.

Address mail to Professor Jones as "jones" followed by <AT>

Meetings: Monday and Wednesday, 2 - 3:15 pm in MEC 341

Jones' Office Hours: By appointment - just send me email.  I am around alot.

Class Attendance: Class attendance is mandatory.

Participation: This course will be conducted in a seminar mode when possible.   Class discussion participation is an important aspect of the course.  So, please do your background reading and think about the issues ahead; have some points to make in class discussion.  We will read a variety of papers, articles, and web site materials, as well as from the text. You will write about a number of papers on selected topics as well as a group project. 

Class Web Page:

Course Abstract: This course addresses the development of public policies aimed at promoting science and technology and regulating the application or use of science and technology (S&T).  The course focuses mainly on U.S. federal policies, with less attention to state, local and international policies.  Topics include the several forms of federal investment and promulgation of science and technology; the reasons that the government funds the research it does; the historical evolution of the federal government’s involvement in S&T policy;  the players, organizations and agencies who make S&T policy; as well as how and when S&T is regulated by the government.  The course explores how science and technology policies are developed in response to challenges and opportunities that arise.

This course exposes the student to a variety of specific past and current policy challenges and requires the student to write short discussion papers on specific policy questions as well as to write a longer paper on a specific technology.  Using your analytic skills on policy questions and expressing the elements of a policy issue in a balanced way is critical to this course.

Course Objectives:  The objective of this course is to develop a student’s ability to evaluate critically public policies that involve science and technology.  More specifically, the course will

      * increase a student's understanding of the lifecycle of science and technology,

      * encourage the use of engineering analytic skills in dealing with policy issues,

      * provide the student with historic context of past S&T policy and an understanding of the governmental mechanisms used to make and enforce such policy, and

      * increase a student's ability to analyze S&T public policy alternatives, using current case studies.

Prerequisites:  Permission of instructor.

Text and Additional Readings:  Easton, Thomas, A. Taking Sides:  Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Science, Technology, and Society, 8th edition, McGraw-Hill, 2007.  Additional reading from books, papers, and the Web will be assigned.

Discussion Papers:  Students will be assigned a number of "Discussion" topics to be discussed in class.  For each topic each student should prepare a three page position paper that articulates the strongest arguments both pro and con for the discussion question.  The paper should close by crisply stating the student's summary position on the question, and the reasons for that position.  This position paper should be based on both the text readings, as well as at least two supplementary material found by the student.  Please list all references at the end of the paper, and cite references as appropriate.  Papers are to be turned in for grading during the class at which the topic is discussed.  For each discussion topic, two students will be assigned to set the scene and to initiate class discussion.  We will try out different models for managing class discussions on the various topics to see what works best for our class.

Technology Position Paper:  Each student should chose one technology that materially affects society -- ergo that is raising policy questions.  The paper should be 12 to 15 pages in length and should cover the following aspects:

      * General description of the technology, including relevant patent  and patent disclosure information

      * Major applications of the technology

      * Detailed description of how the technology is used (works) in representative applications

      * History of the life of the technology and its development

      * Description of the principal manufacturers, users, and markets for the technology

      * Risks, benefits and equity issues associated with the technology

      * Each public policy issues that is relevant to the technology, and the current state of each issue

      * Future prospects for the use of this technology

      * Conclusions

      * Bibliography (Note that at lest 50% of your sources should be non-Internet)

This paper is due to the instructor on March 24.

The Way Forward Course Project: After the course commences each student will be asked to join a group project team, likely of two people each.  Each "Way Forward" Group is to select a major policy issue where the U.S. could and should take a step forward to advance the nation's or the world's situation with respect to that issue.  That policy issue should have a substantive technology component.   Each group will write a white paper that defines a program, likely with a technical component, defining what the nation should do, who should do it (universities, government labs, industry, all three?), what the cost will be on a year by year basis, and what the expected outcome is.  Your white paper should also contain a compelling argument to Congress on what they need to do and why they should do it.  Note that the vast majority of members of Congress are not technically trained, and they make decisions based on political effects.  So, the argument to Congress cannot just be a technical feasibility argument, but a political argument of why the nation should invest some of its treasure in what you propose.  Take care to make arguments that will disarm political dissent to your proposal, explaining why your proposal is good policy.  Your project is due April 16.  Due to class time constraints only a few of the project teams will be asked to give short presentations of their projects late in the course schedule.

Group projects require approval of the instructor.  Some candidate issues for which your group might propose a Way Forward include:

Grading and Evaluation: Grades will be computed as follows:

Help and Pledge Policy: Examinations and papers will be written under the Honor code. Assignments are to be individual work unless that work is explicitly stated to be part of a group project.  Individual work should be just that.  Be sure to cite the source of ideas and properly quote excerpted material in your papers.  Make scrupulously clear what your intellectual and presentational contribution is.  For course projects, students may work closely with other project members.

Course Calendar : Click Here

(last modified March 23, 2008)