STS.462 | Spring 2006 | Graduate

Social and Political Implications of Technology


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session


This reading seminar centers on how new technologies have altered the shape and structure of society, politics, and business since the late 18th century. Historical case studies will be used to reflect upon the anticipated and unanticipated consequences of new technologies and, by extension through analogy, to consider whether these cases hold any lessons for contemporary designers, developers, and planners. The seminar will follow a discussion format, with some preliminary remarks by Professors Smith and Mindell at the beginning of each session.

Textbooks and Readings

A primary book used throughout this course is:

Smith, Merritt Roe, and Gregory Clancey, eds. Major Problems in the History of American Technology. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997. ISBN: 9780669354720.

Other readings are assigned from a variety of books and articles.


Members of the seminar are expected to complete the assigned readings and prepare a one- to two-page reflection paper each week.

Additionally, each student must produce a final paper of 10 to 12 pages in length, which relates the readings and class discussions to one’s particular areas of research and/or policy interest.


The final grade will be determined by the quality of the reflection papers, the quality of one’s interventions in the class discussions, and by the final paper.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2006
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples