COURSE SYMBOL AND NUMBER: NS 304
COURSE TITLE: NS 304 Science, Technology, and Society DN
TERM: U1J2005 (Summer 2005)
INSTRUCTOR: Richard S. Michael, P.E., DEE
TITLE OF FACULTY MEMBER: Adjunct Instructor
FACULTY OFFICE LOCATION: Not applicable
FACULTY PARK EMAIL ADDRESS: Richard.Michael@Park.edu
FACULTY ADDITIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS: Richard_Michael@sbcglobal.net
TERM DATES: Summer 2005: June 6, 2005 to July 31, 2005
CLASS SESSIONS DAYS: Thursdays
CLASS SESSION TIME: 5:30 PM to 9:50 PM
CLASS LOCATION: Park University –
Downtown Kansas City
CREDIT HOURS: 3
The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is
to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think
critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while
serving a global community.
Park University will be a renowned international leader in
providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global
INSTRUCTOR'S EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY:
Students learn best in a mutually supportive,
student centered classroom environment.
Learning in science is best accomplished by:
an understanding of key concepts and principles
challenging students to develop their understanding and their critical thinking
skills by applying those concepts and principles to critically analyzing real
life issues and problems relating to science and technology.
“Science is built up of facts, as a house is with stones.
But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a
"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember;
involve me and I learn."
-Attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Also credited in a slightly different form
as a Chinese proverb.
NS 304 Science,
Technology and Society
"This course is a
comprehensive study of the relationships among science, technology, and
society. Topics include: the two cultures, the relationship between basic
science and technology, the effects of technology upon society, and possible
future technologies." (From
science, measured against reality is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is
the most precious thing we have ." Albert Einstein (1879--1955)
most remarkable discovery made by scientists is science itself." Jacob
Bronowski in Magic, Science, and Civilization
become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity."
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Goals of STS:
STS is an
issue and inquiry focused science course for nonscientists. STS emphasizes
real life relevance and utility, active learning and independent critical
thinking. Rote memorization and scientific jargon are minimized.
technology-driven age, we must make judgments, choices and decisions everyday
that directly or indirectly involve science and technology (S&T).
To judge, choose
and decide intelligently, we must develop at least a fundamental understanding
of science and technology. Furthermore, we must become conscious of how S&T
impact what we value and desire as individuals and as a society. Unfortunately,
many or most of us lack the understanding to do this intelligently and
effectively. Despite living in the most scientifically and technologically
advanced society in the history of the planet, by any reasonable standard, most
Americans are, in effect, scientifically illiterate -- uninformed and
unequipped to deal with S&T.
developing a practical and useful working understanding of S&T does not
require that we all become scientists or engineers. Nor must we memorize
books full of scientific facts and theories. The facts discovered by
science are products of science, not the essential components of science.
Emphasizes Fundamental Understanding and Real World Application
In NS 304 we
will first work to develop and solidify our understanding of the nature of
science and a scientific approach. We will then apply that knowledge and some
of the very same critical thinking approaches that underlie all of science to
analyzing real world problems, issues and case studies involving science and
facts and theories discovered by science is de-emphasized. That is, we
will concentrate more on how science discovers, tests, analyzes,
confirms and refutes, rather than on what science discovers.
student analysis and student critical thinking are the main focus of STS.
By applying them to real world issues and case studies, we will test and
practice the attitudes, approaches and critical thinking processes of science .
We will examine,
discuss and debate online the issues and impacts relating to science and
technology that directly (and indirectly) affect us, both individually and
collectively. By focusing on real life issues and topics that directly
affect students, STS emphasizes personal relevance along with conceptual
understanding, and independent critical thinking.
How will science
and technology affect my life, my career, and my education? How do I keep
up with the technology-driven rapid pace of change in the workplace, my
personal life and society? What choices are best for me? For society? How
can I best learn to recognize, anticipate and deal with the impacts of
S&T? How do I make informed choices? How do I maximize the benefits
and minimize the negative impacts of S&T in my life and my career?
How do I evaluate claims supposedly based on science? How can I tell real
science from "junk science"? These are examples of the important
questions and subjects areas covered.
individual, social and global level, the indirect and unintended
consequences of S&T are examined, as well as direct and intended
impacts. Multi-cultural and gender related considerations and issues are
also investigated, especially as they relate to cultural and gender related
inequalities in the impacts of technology and in access to technology - the
Objective, Critical Thinking
The core of the
"scientific approach" is an attitude -- open-minded and objective,
yet still critical -- toward testing propositions and claims and acquiring
knowledge. This scientific approach is based on weighing and
evaluating facts, evidence and arguments for yourself and independently
reaching your own conclusions, rather than relying on authority.
inquiring, objective, open-minded yet skeptical approach essential to science
also helps us understand and manage science and technology in our lives.
This same approach is also a very powerful way of analyzing and addressing the
multitude of problems and issues involving S&T that impact us. It is
also a powerful tool for informed citizens in a democratic society.
Impacts and Unintended Consequences and the Limitations of S&T
None of this
means, however, that science and technology are perfect tools for understanding
and solving all of the problems that confront us.
and the products of science have caused or contributed to many of our most
serious individual and social problems. Environmental pollution and
weapons of mass destruction are two important examples. So, we will also
examine some limitations of science and technology and the unintended
consequences of science and technology.
Achieving the following
objectives will help develop the conceptual understanding, analytical tools and
critical thinking skills essential for effectively managing science and
technology in your life and your profession:
These learning objectives reinforce Park's Goals for Science Literacy in
The course emphasizes student
active, inquiry centered learning. Lectures, when used, will include
opportunity for discussion and questions. This is not a spectator
course. “Minds-on” problem solving, issue investigations and analyses, group
discussions, student presentations, instructional videos, and use of the Park
computer labs (as available) for web-based inquiry will be involved. Guest
speakers and/or a field trip or trips may also be involved. Rote
memorization is minimized. Because of the issue-centered nature of much of
the course content, for many or most questions analyzed there will not be a
single “right” answer.
Successful completion of
this course will require that the student:
Attend class regularly, arrive on
time and stay for the entire class period.
Demonstrate conduct conducive to
positive academic environment.
Read all assignments, handouts,
etc. and view all videos attentively.
Participate actively and
thoughtfully in classroom activities, discussion and debate with reasonable
frequency and competency.
Complete all examinations. Exams
are administered only on the date and at the time indicated in the course
schedule or as announced in class. Missing an exam will result in a grade of
zero unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor. Anything
related to the course may appear on the exams.
Complete all written assignments,
projects, etc. as instructed and submit these on time. In-class projects,
quizzes, and exercises may not be made up. Oral presentations need to be
presented on the date scheduled.
Course TEXTBOOK Required:
The Demon Haunted
World -- Science as a Candle in the Dark by Dr. Carl Sagan.
Published by Ballantine Books, New York, 1996. ISBN: 0-345-40946-9.
Dr. Sagan's book is a New
York Times bestseller and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology. Jargon
is avoided, and no scientific background or prior scientific education is
required for readers of this book.
In addition to being
available from the MBS
the Demon Haunted World
is available in many libraries as well as larger bookstores. The soft
cover edition is priced at about $14.
for All Americans Online from
the American Association for the Advancement of Science
(To preserve maximum flexibility for student interaction and
class discussion of STS issues of special relevance and interest to students,
the following schedule is subject to change. Additional details and
information on our schedule and assignments will be shared at our class
this is an accelerated class having just eight class meetings, you are asked
to complete the following BEFORE class 1:
send an email to Richard.Michael@pirate.park.edu before
the first class with the following information – Your Name, Contact Phone Numbers, Preferred
email address, Major, Class Standing (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior),
What you want to gain from this class.
1 Reading Assignment: (please read before
all of: Chapter 1, "The Most Precious Thing" and Chapter 2,
"Science and Hope" and Chapter 21, "The Path to Freedom"
in text (Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World -- Science as a Candle in
Read: Skim read Chapter
3, "The Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars" and skim read Chapter
13, "Obsessed with Reality" in Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted
World -- Science as a Candle in the Dark.
Read: Chapter 12 carefully, "The Fine Art of Baloney
Detection". Chapter 12 is an especially important chapter in Carl
Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World -- Science as a Candle in the Dark.
Read: Chapter 14, "Antiscience" and Chapter 16,
"When Scientists Know Sin" in text
Midterm Exam next week
Read: Chapter 5, "Spoofing and Secrecy" in text.
Written assignment -- analyze impacts of science and
technology on a career or profession of your choice. (More info on this in
Read: Skim Chapter 23, "Maxwell and the Nerds"
and Chapter 25, "Real Patriots Ask Questions" in text
Carryover oral presentations.
The information below in
italics and enclosed in quotation marks is quoted directly from the Park
Undergraduate Catalog, available online at:
(Requires free Adobe Acrobat
reader to open.)
Academic honesty is
required of all members of a learning community. Hence, Park University will not tolerate cheating or plagiarism on tests, examinations,
papers, or other course assignments. Students who engage in such dishonesty may
be given failing grades or expelled from Park. (emphasis added)
Plagiarism -- the appropriation or imitation of the language or
ideas of another person and presenting them as one’s original work -- sometimes
occurs through carelessness or ignorance. Students who are uncertain about
proper documentation of sources should consult their instructors.”
Instructors are required
to keep attendance records and report absences.
Absences for cogent
reasons may be excused by the instructor, but missed work must be made up
within the term of enrollment.
Work missed through
unexcused absences must also be made up within the term of enrollment, but
unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a term of
enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting a grade
of “F”. (emphasis added)
An Incomplete will not be
issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for the
Military Tuition Assistance or Veteran’s Administration educational benefits
must not exceed three unexcused absences in the term of enrollment. Excessive
absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in monetary penalty
to the student.
Reports of F grades
(attendance or academic) resulting from excessive unexcused absences for
students receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5
above will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in monetary
penalty to the student.
Note: It is essential that you notify me directly by telephone or email
in advance of a class when you will be unable to attend a
class. Otherwise your absence may be counted as unexcused.
Faculty members are
expected to dismiss from their classrooms students whose behavior is
detrimental to good order in the classroom. Such behavior includes, but is not
limited to, the use of abusive or obscene language, attending the class under
influence of drugs or alcohol, etc. Students who are dismissed from class may
be given failing grades, suspension, or expulsion from Park University.
Students whose behavior, either verbal or written, is detrimental to the good
order of Park University may be subject to disciplinary action ranging from
suspension to expulsion from Park University. Students who exhibit abusive or obscene language
or behavior toward administrative or personnel or support staff are also
subject to suspension or expulsion from Park University.
(end of direct Park
Undergraduate Catalog quotations)
It is expected that all work
will be done conscientiously and submitted on time. The instructor recognizes
that emergencies do occur, so if circumstances beyond your control prevent
timely submission of work, please confer with the instructor.
Several policies have been
previously mentioned. Active class participation by each and every
student is particularly important, for individual and group learning and for
individual grades. Discussion of class topics, issues, and expressing various
points of view is encouraged both inside and outside the classroom. However,
all submitted work must be your own, unless group effort is specifically
authorized by the instructor.
Writing papers together
(unless specifically authorized by the instructor), copying papers or sections
thereof, and other forms of plagiarism are unacceptable and may result in an
“F” for the course.
Whenever information from an
outside source is used in a submitted paper or assignment, that information MUST
be properly documented as to source. This applies whether the information
is quoted, paraphrased or simply used.
authorized by the instructor, assignments are to be typed or printed and
checked for grammatical and typographical errors. If a student is unclear
about the guidelines or requirements for an assignment, please see the
Additional information on
attendance, or lack thereof, is covered under the section on grading
Reference sources which are
from the Internet need to be cited directly in the text of the document and on
the reference list. A hard copy of the article, information should also be
submitted with the paper for all assignments.
Out of simple courtesy, please
turn off cellular phones and beepers during class time. If you absolutely
must have these on because of family or work related responsibilities, please switch
to silent, vibrating mode, and leave the classroom to answer essential calls.
Course Grading Scale (in %'s):
Takehome Midterm examination
Proctored* Final examination
Class participation &
The course grading scale
is as follows:
A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 0-59
Note: Because of the issue oriented, active learning
approach of this course, every participant must
actively and regularly participate in the classroom discussion. This will maximize the benefit
(and grade) to the individual student
and the entire online class.
syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Material
included is intended to provide an outline of the course and the rules and
guidelines which the instructor will use in evaluating the student's progress.
However, this syllabus is not intended to be a legal contract. Questions
regarding the syllabus are welcome any time.
instructor is committed to a classroom atmosphere based on mutual respect for
individuals, mutual appreciation and mutual support. This includes an
appreciation of diversity and respect for the differences among the diverse
individuals and groups comprising our students. This positive, supportive
classroom environment will help to foster a multi-cultural education that
increases our mutual understanding and appreciation of our commonalities, and
This material is copyrighted and can not be reused without express written
permission of the author.