Researchers, policymakers, and publics look to science and technology to address some of society's most pressing challenges, from climate change to national security to economic growth. But such efforts are also controversial. Think of fears that automation will create mass unemployment, that biotechnology threatens human health and natural biodiversity, or that the regulation of toxins in the environment is either insufficient or overzealous. This course examines the competing values that shape debates over how and when science and technology provide appropriate solutions to social problems, as well as how and when we should look to technical expertise to settle political and values-based disputes.
Its goals are 1) to equip you with the interdisciplinary skills necessary to advocate for socially responsible science and technology policy; and 2) to provide concepts and tools for reasoning and writing about the normative challenges that shape a variety of policy challenges, within and beyond science and technology.
Background in the sciences, technology, and ethics are not required for the course.