Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Prerequisites


Course Description

Innovation and accompanying science and technology are now seen to have a profound connection not only to our health and daily life, but also to the society’s economic growth and its corresponding ability to generate societal wellbeing and solve societal challenges—and these economic and societal issues are deeply interrelated.

This course focuses on science and technology policy—it will examine the science and technology innovation system, including case studies on energy, computing, advanced manufacturing, and health sectors, with an emphasis on public policy and the federal government’s role in that system. It will review the foundations of economic growth theory, innovation systems theory and innovation organization, and the basic approaches to science and technology policy, building toward a sophisticated understanding of these areas. The class will review a theory of direct and indirect economic factors in the innovation system, note the innovation-based competitive and advanced manufacturing challenges now facing the U.S. economy, review comparative efforts in other nations, study the varied models for how federal science and technology mission agencies are organized, and examine the growth of public-private partnership models as a way for science mission agencies to pursue mission agendas.

Emphasis will also be placed on examining the organization and role of medical science and energy innovation agencies and gaps in the health, energy, and advanced production innovation economic models, as well as related innovation systems policy issues. The course will close with an examination of the science and technology talent base as a factor in growth and the education approaches that support it, and a discussion of the future of jobs and employment given increasing automation.

Course Learning Outcomes

Students will emerge from the course with a strong grasp of the fundamentals of innovation systems and the economic and technological development factors behind them, and with a clear framework to approach science and technology policymaking. They will understand the basics of innovation-based economic growth theory, and also take an in-depth look at the innovation systems in health and energy.

More specifically, students will develop an understanding of the following innovation policy areas:

  • The drivers behind science and technology support, including economic growth theory, direct and indirect innovation factors, Kondratiev waves, innovation systems theory, the “valley of death” between researchh and development, and public-private partnership models.
  • The organizing framework behind US science agencies, their missions and research organizational models, and the DARPA model as an alternative.
  • The upcoming competitiveness challenge in advanced production technologies, including global innovation models.
  • The organization of innovation at both the institutional and personal, face-to-face levels.
  • Challenges in the energy, computing, and health innovation systems and within legacy economic sectors in general.
  • Key issues in the science and engineering talent base and education system and pending employment and productivity issues.

Given the challenges to future federal science support, this course will aim to equip those with interest in, or contemplating careers that could involve, science and technology issues or economic development, including in entrepreneurship, business, academic, non-profit organizations, health, and energy areas, with the basic background for involvement in these policy areas. Students by the end of the course will be able to effectively understand the elements, organize key ideas, and present the foundational framework and policy concepts in these innovation, science, and technology fields.


Assignment Percentage
Research Paper 80%
Participation 20%

There will be no exam, but one-page summaries of readings for each class are required to ensure you are keeping up with the course concepts. Aside from the required research project and paper, this course is in significant part a discussion seminar where active, informed, thoughtful, and constructive class participation is a part of the assessment criteria for the course. Students are expected to attend all classes and to be fully prepared to engage in a critical review of the readings in each class; the required short issue summaries for class readings will greatly assist in that class participation preparation.

Class Discussion Time

The course will be run as a seminar with an emphasis on class discussion.

Significant time for student participation and discussions will be built into each class. Students will be expected to read the articles or chapters listed for each class. All students for each class will email at least a day in advance to the instructor and student discussion leaders, a one-page summary in “bullet-point” outline form of all the readings for that class. This summary should list three or four key points about each reading and below that list two or three key questions about each reading. In addition, particular students, rotating around the class, using the students’ one-page summaries, will be asked to lead class Q&A discussion on the readings for each class—so each class will have one or two student discussion leaders.

Starting with the first class, please submit your one-page reading summaries emailed to the instructor in advance of class; the instructor will go over the discussion leader system at the first class and name initial discussion leaders, starting with the second class. So starting with the second class, please email your reading summaries to both the instructor and discussion leaders. The discussion leaders will use your questions in leading the class discussions of the reading.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Written Assignments
Lecture Notes