NS304 Science, Technology, and Society

for F1J 2010

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Mission Statement: 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.

Vision Statement: Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


NS 304 Science, Technology, and Society


F1J 2010 DN


Richard S. Michael, P.E., DEE


Senior Instructor


B.S. Mechanical Engineering
M.S. Environmental Health Engineering
Diplomate American Academy of Environmental Engineers (Board Certified Environmental Engineer)

Daytime Phone

(To avoid posting on the Internet, the instructor's telephone contact information will be provided directly to enrolled students.)




Semester Dates

08/16/2010 - 10/10/2010

Class Days


Class Time

5:30 - 9:50 PM

Credit Hours


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 Bookstore , the Demon Haunted World is available in many libraries as well as larger bookstores.  The soft cover edition is priced at about $14.

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

Science for All Americans Online from the American Association for the Advancement of Science available in its entirety online at:




McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
Park Helpdesk - If you have forgotten your OPEN ID or Password, or need assistance with your PirateMail account, please email helpdesk@park.edu or call 800-927-3024
Resources for Current Students - A great place to look for all kinds of information http://www.park.edu/Current/.


Course Description:
Relationship between 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.  3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

"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.

Science as Inquiry

Science, technology and society teaching should emphasize understanding of concepts and the process of scientific inquiry, rather than rote memorization.  

Student conceptual understanding is best attained by applying the concepts and the process of inquiry to real world concerns and issues relating to science and technology that directly impact, interest or concern students.

“Understanding science is more than knowing facts.” Quoted from How Students Learn Science in Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning published by the National Academy of Sciences.  Available online in its entirety at: http://books.nap.edu/html/inquiry_addendum/

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of facts.” Dr. Carl Sagan – noted astronomer and author of the NS 304 textbook.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain concepts of how and why science works and the many ways that science and technology affect our lives.
  2. Define and explain the processes of science and scientific inquiry.
  3. Discuss and illustrate relevant impacts of science and technology on individual lives, professions, and the global society.
  4. Demonstrate the analytical and critical thinking skills essential to making informed judgments and informed choices regarding science and technology.
  5. Analyze and determine statements that are based on science versus those that are not.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. Develop, practice and demonstrate "information literacy" skills, critical for the so-called "Information Age", including:
  2. Effective search strategies for finding information and data necessary to making informed judgments
  3. Effective techniques for critically evaluating information and data
  4. Effective strategies for dealing with "information overload"
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:

NS 304 will also incorporate some aspects of a "blended" course.  Resources and materials relating to NS 304 and its subject matter will also be provided in Park's online eCompanion system.


Grading is as per the Grading Plan below.


The midterm exam, course issue position paper, and proctored final exam are the major graded individual items.  In addition, homework assignments and in class participation/ discussion also cumulatively account for 25% of the course grade.


In assignments and/ or in class, research, analysis, study, discussion and debate of specific issues and cases relating to STS are emphasized.


Concepts are also developed through the text, online reference resources (provided by the instructor or discovered and shared by the participants), in class discussion, in class presentation of the position/ problem solution paper, required for the course, etc.  


Participants are strongly encouraged to select or volunteer STS related issues and topics for in class analysis and discussion.  Because the impacts of science and technology are so widespread and powerful, this gives participants substantial latitude for selecting and analyzing issues that are genuinely meaningful and personally relevant.

Because NS 304 emphasizes conceptual understanding and independent critical thinking, rote memorization of facts is kept to an absolute minimum. Furthermore, participants are encouraged to constructively disagree with the instructor, and with their NS 304 colleagues,  regarding S&T related issues that are examined and analyzed.

As long as participants first seek out, examine, and weigh evidence and arguments for conflicting positions on STS related issues, they are free to reach any position that their independent analysis and personal value system leads them to.  Even if it disagrees with the instructor's position.  (For example, participants are quite likely to arrive at conflicting positions on the desirability of fetal tissue research or human cloning, whether global warming is a real and very serious problem, etc.)  Constructive disagreement in an atmosphere of mutual respect -- "disagreeing without being disagreeable" -- is encouraged.  As Dr. Carl Sagan puts it, "Valid criticism does you a favor."


Course Grading Scale (in %'s):

Takehome Midterm examination           15%

Final  examination                                 30%

Class participation & assignments**     25%

Position paper                                       30%                        

Total                                                    100%

The course grading scale is as follows: A = 90-100 B = 80-89 C = 70-79 D = 60-69 F = 0-59

**Important 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.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Work is expected to be submitted on time. It is very difficult to catch up when you fall behind in an accelerated course. However, I do recognize that some of you may be actively serving in the U.S. military, or may have nonmilitary professional obligations, family emergencies, or the like that occasionally force you to delay your participation. If you ever have circumstances which may unavoidably delay your submission of work, or your attendance, please notify me via email as soon as possible, and, if your circumstances warrant, I will try to work with you.  

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

(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 meetings.)



Assignments/ Activities




Because this is an accelerated class having just eight class meetings, you are asked to complete the following BEFORE class 1:

Please 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.

Week 1 Reading Assignment: (please read before first class)

Read 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 the Dark).

Class: Introductory exercises. Science, technology and society - introduction to basic concepts. Course overview. Accessing and evaluating information. Class discussion.

Assignment for Week 2

Week 2 Reading Assignment:
Chapter 19, "No Such Thing as a Dumb Question" and Chapter 17, "The Marriage of Skepticism and Wonder." Skim read Chapter 23, "Maxwell and the Nerds" from text (Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World -- Science as a Candle in the Dark)



Assignment for Week 3
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.



Assignment for Week 4
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.



Assignment for Week 5
Read: Chapter 14, "Antiscience" and Chapter 16, "When Scientists Know Sin" in text
Midterm Exam next week.



Midterm Exam
Assignment for Week 6
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 class.)



Technology and the nature of jobs and work. “How will science and technology affect “MY” (your) chosen career and how can I best prepare?” Discussion
Assignment for Week 7
Read: Skim Chapter 23, "Maxwell and the Nerds" and Chapter 25, "Real Patriots Ask Questions" in text



Course issue position papers due.
Oral presentations and group discussion of course issue position papers.



Carryover oral presentations.
Final Exam
Concluding Discussions

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92-93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


This material is copyrighted and can not be reused without the express written permission of the author.

Last Updated:7/8/2010 1:03:23 PM