for IDS 252 Society, Ethics, and
Liberal Learning Program, The College of New Jersey
Ralph Edelbach, Associate Professor & Coordinator
Armstrong Hall 130 firstname.lastname@example.org
This course is designed to provide students with a framework for understanding ways in which human societies transform themselves through technological innovation and for assessing the social and ethical issues associated with technological change. New technologies extend human powers and enlarge social options, but also often give rise to unwanted social and environmental consequences and lead to troubling ethical problems. These general themes will be developed by means of lectures, associated course readings, classroom activities, and exercises in seminar sections during which students will explore past and present developments in various fields of technology and discuss the ethical and social issues they raise.
By considering seven major themes during this course, students will gain an understanding of the major impact technological change has had on human life. They will also have opportunities conduct an in-depth investigation into an area of personal interest relating to one of these topics. Because of the ethical implications of many decisions involving technology, ethical concepts will be reviewed and those principles utilized in resolving ethical dilemmas and completing an ethical case analysis.
This course is primarily focused on the Worldviews and Ways of Knowing goal and outcomes of the Liberal Learning Program. Class activities and assignments are selected in order to help students “think critically about what it means to be human, and to explore and interpret the human place in the universe.” Students should be able to think critically about how “human beings are able to gain knowledge beyond the limits of their own personal experiences as they develop an understanding of the nature and role of technology and its impact on the environment and society.” Because many decisions involving technological issues have a major impact on human lives, students should be able to “formulate a point of view on the intersection of science, religion, politics, and other forms of culture,” as well as to develop the ability to make informed judgments concerning ethical values. In order to achieve these goals, this course is structured as described below.
Issues related to each of the major topics below will be covered.
1. Historical Perspectives of Technology
2. Social Perspectives of Technology
3. Ethical Perspectives of Technology
4. Economics, Globalization and Human Rights
5. Information Systems Technology
6. Biomedical Technology
7. Population and The Environment
Class Schedule - Supplemental readings to be assigned by
1 & 2 Introduction to course -
History of Technology / Creativity & Problem solving
Introduction, Winston 1 – 20
The Great Leap Forward, Diamond 22 - 33
The Pinball Effect, Burke 33 - 42
Industrial Society and Technological Systems, Cowan 54 - 71
3 & 4
Sociological Aspects of Technology
Introduction of Design / Invention / Discovery Assignment
Women and the Assessment of Technology, Bush 71 - 85
Artifacts/Ideas and Political Culture, Winner 94 – 100
Democratic Rationalization, Feenberg 100 - 114
5 & 6 Ethics and
Technology and Responsibility: Reflections on the New Task of
Ethics, Jonas 115 - 126
Technology and Social Justice, Dyson 126 - 136
Technological Subversion, Strong 149 - 161
7 & 8 Mid-Term Exam -
first six weeks of the course
Economics, Globalization and Human Rights
International Economics, Sachs 162 - 169
The One Best Way, Postrel 169 - 180
Innovating Our Way to the Next Industrial Revolution Senge and Carstedt 180 - 193
Globalization and Its Impact on the Full Enjoyment All Human Rights, United Nations 193 - 204
9 & 10 Computers and Information
Introduction of Ethical Case Analysis
Computers and Privacy, Edgar 205 – 222
Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us, Joy 231 - 248
Promise and Peril, Kurzweil 248 - 253
11 & 12 Biomedical
Genetic Encores: The Ethics of Human
Cloning, Wachbroit 253 – 259
Reproductive Technology, Wajcman 259 - 275
Preventing a Brave New World, Kass 275 – 287
Genetic Engineering and the Concept of the Normal, Sagoff 287 - 297
13 & 14 Population and the
The Tragedy of the Commons, Hardin 297 – 306
Stronger Evidence of Human Influence on Climate, Trenbeth 306 - 316
A New Economy for a New Century, Brown and Flavin 316 - 323
15 Final Exam
Grades will be based on a
student's achievement on assignments, tests, quizzes and as well as class
Complete details relevant to each assignment will be provided by the instructor and reviewed in class.
Assignments not submitted by the due date will have their grades reduced
proportional to when they are submitted, unless prior arrangements have been
made with the instructor.
2. Students will be provided with feedback by the instructor as they work on an assignment. Comments suggesting improvements will be made on all submitted work. Students will have an opportunity to incorporate these suggestions into their final submissions.
Student grades may be reviewed with the instructor upon request.
Learning Activities – see class schedule established by individual instructors for due dates
Complete details of each assignment will be provided by the instructor.
1. Design/Invention/Discovery Assignment - This will be a group assignment on a topic
related to one of the course themes. Drafts of the paper and other related materials will
be submitted and returned on the established schedule. A 10-minute group presentation
of the project will be presented to the class..........( 20 %)
2. Ethical Case Analysis – This is a seven page paper APA Style involving considering
viable options related to making an ethical decision involving some technological aspect.
A draft of the paper will be submitted and returned with comments prior to the final
paper being submitted......................................... ( 20 %)
3. Participation / Reading quizzes............................... ( 20 %)
4. Midterm Exam..................................................... ( 20 %)
5. Final Exam............................................................( 20 % )
Winston, M, and Edelbach, R,
(2005). Society, Ethics, and Technology - Third Edition. San Francisco:
Brown, L., et. al. (1998).
State of the World 1998: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a
Sustainable Society, New York: Norton.
Burke, J., and Ornstein, R.
(1997). The Axmaker's Gift: Technology's Capture and Control of Our Minds and
Culture. New York: Putnam Group.
Dawkins, R. (1990). The
Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
DeGraff, J., Wann, D.,
Naylor, T. (2001). Affluenza. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Diamond, J. (1998). Guns,
Germs and Steel. New York: Random House.
Chomsky, N. (1996). World
Orders Old and New. New York: Columbia University Press.
Edgar, S. (1997). Morals
and Machines: Perspectives in Computer Ethics. New York: Jones and
Ellul, J. (1964). The
Technological Society. J. Wilkenson trans. New York: Knopf
Jonas, H. (1983). The
Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological
Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Noble, D. (1997). Forces
of Production: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention. New York:
Page, G. (1999). Inside
the Animal Mind. New York: Random House.
Petrovski, H. (1996).
Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.
Rifkin, J. (1995). The
End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the
Post-Market Era. New York: Putnam.
Sclove, R. (1995).
Democracy and Technology. New York: Guilford Press.
Teich, A. (1993).
Technology and the Future. New York: St. Martin’s Press
Thurow, L. (1996). The Future of Capitalism: How Today's Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow's World. New York: William Morrow
Winston, M, and Edelbach, R, (2005). Society, Ethics, and Technology - Third Edition. San Francisco: Thompson/Wadsworth.