Due date




Informal clinic presentations


Project topic and thesis



Project description and outline



Annotated bibliography




4/19, 4/20




Final report



Week 1

M 1/20                    MLK Day – No Class

Week 2 Orientation

1/26  Syllabus/ Overview of semester

Introductory comments: Science, Technology, Society, and Culture – de Laet

Brief project presentations

Section 1:  History, sociology and anthropology of technology and science In this section we present background materials on social studies and humanistic approaches to science and technology. The various disciplines put different emphases and use different approaches towards the analysis of the relations between science, technology, society and culture; in this sections we identify some of their methods and approaches, in order to make them usable for you in the analysis of your clinic project.

Week 3 
History/Sociology of Technology

2/02 Background and theory

Read handouts Cadillac Desert

film: Cadillac Desert part 1; Discussion

Project title and thesis due

Week 4 Technology and Culture

2/9 Success and Failure

Read Pacey 1-96


Project description and outline due

Section 2: Sociotechnical systems; networks In this section we present a view of technology as embedded in, and dependent upon, a broader socio-technical environment: a technology cannot live alone. The term “socio-technical system” points to (1) this interdependence of technology and society: while technological change has effects upon societal arrangements, it is brought about and shaped by the demands and constraints that society presents; (2) the notion that technologies require chains of heterogeneous elements (people, funds, scientific theories, other technologies) to be developed, used, and maintained.

Week 5
Socio-technical systems and models I

2/16 An Anthropology of Transportation

Read Latour Aramis


Week 6  Socio-technical systems and models II

2/23 A History of Electricity

Read Nye Consuming Power, chapters 1-5

Lecture-discussion: approaches and methods of analysis – de Laet


Week 7 Socio-Technical Systems and models III

3/01 Desinging Engineers

Read Bucciarelli first and last chapters; also try to follow the trials and tribulations of one of the three companies taht are described in the book.

Annotated bibliography due

Week 8 Collective Exam/Review

3/8  Open book class discussion of exam questions; instructors absent

Report outline, table of contents, summary of chapters due        

Exam due Wednesday 3/10


Section 3: Technology and Environment In this section we discuss the social and environmental impact of several technological innovations, and the controversies that have arisen around them. These discussions are grounded in the case studies we presented before the break so it is advisable to keep the previous reading materials ready.

Week 10 Technology and Environment I

3/22 California Energy Crisis

Read packet of articles (Tanenbaum; handout); Nye chapters 6-9

Lecture-discussion Tanenbaum

Week 11 Technology and Environment II

3/29 A sociology of environmental hazards

Read Hurley Environmental Inequalities


Section 4: Public, markets, users; design In this section we analyze the way in which the design process is shaped by user demand, user capabilities, and market factors. Recalling Law’s concept of “heterogeneous engineering,” we present design as the moment where the intersections of science technology society and culture come alive: engineering not only produces technology but also and at the same time constructs a social environment in which such technology can be (seen as) viable.  In situations of technical innovation, key factors are future costs, future profits, and future use. Estimating such factors and “inscribing” them in the product is part of the process of constructing new technology.


Week 12 Design: Publics, Markets, Users

4/05Inscribing the User

Read handouts (Callon; de Laet & Mol; Law)


Week 13 Wrap up: Technology and Culture Revisited

4/12 Ethics, Morals, Values

Read Pacey rest



Week 14 Student Project Presentations

4/19 and 4/20 (?)

Section 5: Technology and culture This section summarizes and wraps up the relations between technology and culture; drawing on reading materials and student presentations.

Week 15
      No class         

Final Report due