SC/NATS 1775B 6.0 Technology and Civilization
Instructor: Dr. Vera Pavri
E-mail: [email protected]
Lectures: Tues and Thurs 4-5:30pm, ACE 102
Office Hrs: Thursdays from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, Bethune 217 – Please contact first
This course examines the history, development and use of key technologies from antiquity to
present day. We will explore how social, political and economic factors can have an effect on the
success or failure of new technologies, and the impact new technologies have on society. Key
themes that will be surveyed in this course include a) technology, culture, race and gender, b)
religion and technology, c) the relationship between science and technology, d) the management
of technology, and e) how users shape new technologies. Further information about natural
science courses can be found at www.nats.yorku.ca.
The class is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4-5:30pm. Classes will
begin with a lecture followed by a discussion period of class readings. Students are required to
remain for both the lecture and discussion periods. Attendance is mandatory.
1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance
to the Present. 2 Ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins U. Press, 2011.
2. Technology and Civilization Course Reader
3. Ben Goldacre, Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks and Big Pharma Flacks. McClelland &
Book Assignment (7%) Due Thursday Nov. 22 2012
Midterm Exam (25%) Held During Fall Exam Period
Technological Controversy Paper (25%) Due Thursday March 21 2013
Final Exam (35%) Held During Spring Exam Period
Attendance/Participation (8%) Details in class
Further information about your book assignment and technological controversy paper can be
found in your course package and on the Moodle website.
Students with physical, learning or psychiatric disabilities who require reasonable
accommodations in teaching style or evaluation methods should discuss this with the Course
Director early in the term so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
The penalty for late papers is 5% per day and I will not accept papers that are more than three
days late. Also, other than documented medical emergencies, students who hand in late papers
1 due to illness will still receive a late penalty. Please note that being ill for a few days before a
paper is due does not constitute a medical emergency.
The course website is: http://moodle.yorku.ca
Once you go this website, you must enter in your Passport York User ID and Password in order
to access courses. The course is listed under the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
Please note that I will provide very detailed lecture notes that will be posted on the course
website. Although these notes are extensive, it is still imperative that you come to class. This is
because our in-class lectures will highlight what material is most important to know. This will
allow you to focus your attention on what you really need to know to do well on exams. Also,
don’t forget that participation is worth 8% of your mark.
NATS-AID is a student-run academic support service designed to help York University
undergraduate students excel in their Natural Science courses. Their team of dedicated tutors will
clarify course material and offer general guidance on assignments, enabling you to complete
them independently with a higher degree of success. Tutors are available for most NATS
courses. To check tutor availability for your course and contact a tutor, point your web browser
NATS-AID, with the help of instructors, also recruits class representatives for each Natural
Science course. Class representatives will assist you in forming study groups to prepare for
upcoming quizzes and tests. They will also pass along concerns, compliments, or suggestions
about your course or its content to your professor and/or the Division of Natural Science. For
more information on class representatives, including how to contact your rep, please visit:
The last date students can enroll in this course without the permission of the instructor is: Sept.
The last date students can enroll in this course with the permission of the instructor is: October
The last date students can drop the course without receiving a grade is: Feb. 15, 2013
Important information for students regarding the Ethics Review process, Access/Disability,
Academic Honesty/Integrity, Student Conduct, and Religious Observance Days is available on
the CCAS webpage (see Reports, Initiatives, Documents):
Students who feel that there are extenuating circumstances which may interfere with the
successful completion of the exam or other course requirements are encouraged to discuss the
matter with the Course Director as soon as possible.
2 2012-13 SC/NATS 1775B 6.0: Technology and Civilization
Lecture Schedule and Readings
Date Topic Readings
Thursday Sept. 6 Introduction to Course
Tuesday Sept. 11 Questions Concerning Technology 1. (T&C Reader) Sergio Sismondo, “Two
& Questions Concerning Technology”, pp. 1-9
Thursday Sept. 13
2. (T&C Reader) Melvin Kranzberg, “Technology
and History: ‘Kranzberg’s Laws,’” pp. 11-18
3. (Moodle) Paul Leonardi and Michele Jackson,
“Technological Determinism and Discursive
Closure in Organizational Mergers,” Journal of
Organizational Change Management, pp. 615-28.
Tuesday Sept. 18 Technology in Ancient Civilizations1. (T&C Reader) James E. Edwards, “Building
& the Great Pyramid: Probable Construction
Thursday Sept. 20 Methods at Giza,” pp. 19-26
2. (T&C Reader) Nataraja Sarma, “Diffusion of
Astronomy in the Ancient World,” pp. 27-36
Tuesday Sept. 25 1. (T&C Reader) Pamela Long, “Technology in
& Technology in the Middle Ages the Medieval West,” pp. 39-48
Thursday Sept. 27
2. (T&C Reader) Justin Y. Lin, “The Needham
Puzzle: Why the Industrial Revolution did not
Originate in China,” pp. 49-60.
Tuesday October 2 1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet, Chap.
& Technology in the Renaissance and 1: Technologies of the Court, pp. 1-32.
Thursday October 4 Early Modern Period, Part I
2. (T&C Reader) Sungook Hong,
“Historiographical Layers in the Relationship
between Science and Technology,” pp. 61-68
Tuesday October 9 Technology in the Renaissance and 1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet, Chap.
& Early Modern Period, Part II 2: Techniques of Commerce, pp. 33-58.
Thursday October 11
2. Carolyn Merchant, “The Scientific Revolution
and the Death of Nature,” pp. 69-84
Tuesday October 16 The Industrial Revolution 2. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet,
& Chapter 3: Geographies of Industry, pp. 57-96.
Thursday October 18
Tuesday October 23 Technology and Imperialism 1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet,
& Chapter 4: Instruments of Empire, pp. 98-127.
Thursday October 25
2. (T&C Reader) Michael Adas, “Contested
Hegemony: The Great War and the Afro-Asian
Assault on the Civilizing Mission,” pp. 87-103
Tuesday November 6 Science, Technology and the Birth of1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet,
3 & Modern Industry Chapter 5: Science and Systems, pp. 128-157.
Thursday November 8
Tuesday November 13 Scientific Management 1. (T&C Reader) Thomas P. Hughes, “The
& System Must be First,” pp. 113-118
Thursday November 15
Tuesday November 20 Ford and Mass Production 1. (T&C Reader) Nathan Rosenberg, “Why in
& America,” pp. 105-111
Thursday November 22
2. (T&C Reader) David Hounshell, “Mass
Production,” pp. 119-125
Tuesday November 27 Midterm Exam: Discussion and 1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet,
& Review Chapter 10: The Question of Technology, pp.
Thursday November 29 299-319.
Tuesday January 8 Essay Seminar
Thursday January 10
Tuesday January 15 Technology and the World Wars 1. (Available online) Tim Cook, “Creating the
& Faith: The Canadian Gas Services in the First
Thursday January 17 World War,” J. of Military History, Vol. 62 (4),
Oct.1998, pp. 755-86.
2. (T&C Reader) Robert Proctor, “Nazi Science
and Nazi Medical Ethics: Some Myths and
Misconceptions,” pp. 127-133
3. (T&C Reader) Barton J. Bernstein, “The
Atomic Bombings Reconsidered,” pp. 135-142
Tuesday January 22 The Race for Space: Science, 1. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet,
& Technology and Ideology During theChapter 7: The Means of Destruction, pp. 190-
Thursday January 24 WWII & the Cold War 224.
2. (T&C Reader) Michael Gordin et. al.,
“Ideologically Correct Science,” pp. 145-165
Tuesday January 29 Communications Technologies, Part 1. (T&C Reader) Nelly Oudshoorn & Trevor
& I Pinch, “Introduction: How Users and Non-Users
Thursday January 31 Matter,” pp. 167-175
2. (T&C Reader) Claude S. Fischer, “’Touch
Someone’: The Telephone Industry Discovers
Sociability, pp. 177-192
Tuesday February 5 Communications Technologies, Part 1. (T&C Reader) Jan van den Ende et al.,
& II “Shaping the Early Development of Television,”
Thursday February 7 pp. 193-206
Tuesday February 12 Personal Computers 1. (T&C Reader) Paul Ceruzzi, “The Personal
& Computer,” pp. 207-221
Thursday February 14
Tuesday February 26 Internet 1. (T&C Reader) Lawrence Lessig, “Code is
4 & Law,” pp. 223-230
Thursday February 28
2. Thomas Misa, Leonardo to the Internet,
Chapter 8: Toward Global Culture, pp. 225-259.
Tuesday March 5 Controversies in Genetic 1. (T&C Reader) Lynne O. Elkin, “Rosalind
& Engineering, Part I Franklin and the Double Helix,” pp. 231- 238
Thursday March 7
Tuesday March 12 Controversies in Genetic 1. (T&C Reader) US Department of Energy
& Engineering, Part II Genome Research Program, “Genomics and its
Thursday March 14 Impact on Science and Society,” pp. 239-246
Tuesday March 19 Controversies in Genetic
& Engineering, Part III
Thursday March 21
Tuesday March 26 Technology and the Environment (T&C Reader) Peter Bowler & Iwan Morus,
& “Ecology and Environmentalism,” pp. 247-256
Thursday March 28
Tuesday April 2 Exam Review
Thursday April 4
2012-13 NATS 1775 Book Assignment Guidelines