Class Syllabus

Environment, Technology, and Society
Fall Semester 2003

[ Course Description | Textbooks | Grading ]

Course Description

The university describes this course as:

Emphasis on relationships and interactions of physical, biological, technological, and cultural components of environment. Study of selected interdisciplinary problems. Elaborates on student's previous university experience and develops environmental literacy.

In this section of 820:140 Environment, Technology, and Society, we will focus our attention primarily on the built environment, that is, the world that we construct for ourselves. This includes everything from our towns and buildings to the cyberspace that increasingly dominates our lives. This semester, we will consider relationships among society, the environment that build for ourselves, and the technologies we use.

We will read about current issues at the intersection of society, environment, and technology. We will discuss these issues from a variety of perspectives, allowing you to apply your academic background to these problems and and to learn from others. We'll also write and do things related to these problems. We will evaluate current situations and try to assess future situations.

I hope for capstone to be a course a pragmatic study of environment, technology, and society for the educated citizen. This topic has many facets and thus gives us a lot of freedom in what we can do. You will play an active role in determining the value and interestingness of the course.


I ask you to buy this text:

Donald A. Norman, "The Design of Everyday Things", Basic Books, 2002, ISBN 0465067107

Occasionally, I will assign an outside reading, providing either a web link or a printed copy.

We will also use several electronic resources:

Note that to send messages to the course mailing list, you must send from the mailing address from which you are subscribed. By default, that is your e-mail address. If you'd like to be subscribed from some other address, just let me know.

Evaluation Criteria

Your grade will derive from five activities this semester:

Activity Number Weight Dates
Project 1 20% September 16,
December 9
Short Papers 2 20% October 14,
November 13
Session Summaries 3 20% various,
to be determined
Class Presentation 1 20% various,
to be determined
Class Participation 28 20% every

I grade on a straight 90%, 80%, 70%, 60% scale. Frankly, I don't expect that this course will generate many surprises when it comes to grades. You will get pretty much what you put into the course, with no hidden strings.

You will notice that I emphasize writing in this course. Good writing is critical to intellectual work, regardless of your discipline or interests. I provide some general comments on writing to my students, and you are welcome to review them. Feel free to suggest improvements.

Eugene Wallingford ==== ==== November 3, 2003