Fall 2007

Course details:
Course Description:

Storytellers have been warning us of the dangers of technology and over-confidence for thousands of years-from the Tower of Babel and the doomed flight of Icarus to Frankenstein and Spiderman's foe Doc Ock. Is too much technology dangerous or even evil? Many popular works show technology leading to estrangement from the rest of society. Is this true in everyday experience? Are iPods the end of civilization? Even if they are, is it too late to do anything now?

The image of the "mad scientist" is familiar from hundreds of movies. Are there positive images of science in popular culture to balance this negative stereotype? We will explore society's love/hate relationship with science and how technology has been used both for good and evil. What responsibilities do scientists have? What responsibilities do we all have as individuals? How can we use technology for the benefit of humanity and the planet? Which technologies are worth using and which ones are too dangerous to develop? Can we tell the difference? Who decides?

Through discussion and writing, we will reflect on society's view of science, technology and responsibility over the past 150 years as reflected in fiction and movies.