The Evergreen State College
Fall/Winter 1999-2000 Program Offering
First Year Program Syllabus 9/27/99 Version

Risks: Prospects for Technology and Democracy in the New Millennium


URL For Program Web Page:
Core Connectors: Rana Hutchinson ( and Joshua Salzman ( both at ext. 6312
Writing Tutor: Mac Lojowsky, ext. (6420: Writing Center; L 3407)

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I. Program Description

The rapid pace of technological change and the increasing sophistication of technology are two of the defining characters of this century. This two quarter program will study the technological revolution and the impact of technology on the way we live. Among the major themes we will examine are the relationship between technology and democracy, the role of risk analysis, technology and the workplace, how fiction and popular culture depict the effects of technology, and the ability of society to control biotechnology and other applied sciences that present grave moral and ethical questions. We will use books, articles, film, workshops, and field trips to explore these themes.

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II. Tentative Sequence of Topics/Credit Equivalencies

Fall Quarter Winter Quarter
Case study of technology Organizations and Tech/and the workplace
History of technology Risk Analysis
Democracy Technology and the natural world
Practice of Science and Technology
Philosphy of Science issues
Statistics: How Many People Can The Earth Support? Technology as force or agent
Technology as social practice
Field Trips (Fall; dates tentative) Field Trip (winter):
Bonneville Dam (October 29) Hanford Reservation
Boeing Assembly Plant, Everett (November 16)

Fall Quarter Credit Equivalencies:
4 credits Introduction to English Compostision*
4 credits Introduction to Political Science*
4 credits Introduction to Science and Technology Studies*
4 credits Introduction to Computing and Quantitative Methods
*These 12 credits are mandatory

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III. Readings and Films and Workshops

Readings: Several books and articles will be required reading each quarter.
Required reading for Fall Quarter:



Films: Koyannisquatsi, Sleeper, Pi, Twelve Angry Men, Lerenzo's Oil

Workshops: The program will include workshops on statistics, writing, presentations, computer skills (word processing, Web Use, Web design), case studies and exercises.

Student Program Planning: Students will help to plan several aspects of the program, including: Challenge program design and planning; potlucks; Boeing field trip transportation and food.

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IV. Expectations and Learning goals

Faculty Expectations of Students: We expect all students to participate fully in all aspects of the program, thoroughly prepare for each class meeting (which includes completing the assigned readings), and complete all assignments on time. We expect students to notify your seminar leader if you are unable to make a class session. More than two absences will place your credit in jeopardy. Late assignments will be read only under extraordinary circumstances and then only with advance notice. If you anticipate any delay in handling in a particular assignment, discuss this with your seminar leader in advance. You will also be expected to complete a self- evaluation and a faculty evaluation. Each student will be expected to have a campus e-mail account.

Time and Effort: Remember that if you are taking a full load (16 Quarter Hours), your college work is a FULL-TIME job (at least as we define full-time in this country). You should expect to spend at least 2 hours out of class for every hour you spend in class. Allocate your time accordingly.

Writing and Plagiarism: Evergreen emphasizes wiring throughout its curriculum. This quarter we will ask you to complete a variety of writing assignments. Papers must be typed and paginated and turned in on hard copy or (if necessary_ e-mailed to your seminar leader. One of our expectation is that students will use a proper citation system to document the sources of their facts and quotations, and that they will correctly cite such facts and quotations. Plagiarism, "to take ideas, writings, etc., from another and pass them off as one's own" (Webster's New World Dictionary, 3RD College Ed., 1988, 1031) constitutes grounds for denial of credit. Be certain to give others credit when you use their quotes or ideas by using proper citations. A workshop early in the quarter will address plagiarism issues in detail.

Learning Goals: This quarter we have several goals that we want everyone to attain, These include both relatively broad outcomes, and specific aspects of the course of the course content. These are as follows:

A. General Goals: Students will improve their skills, knowledge, and abilities in several areas, including their: ability to participate effectively in seminar; writing skills; quantitative reasoning; critical thinking; research skills; ability to read and analyze complex material; commitment to learning material that may make them uncomfortable; ability to make use of particular technologies (such as using the Web for research); and their ability to "read" a film.

B. Content Goals:

  1. Understand the nature of science and technology;
  2. Become aware of the consequences of new applications of technology;
  3. Understand the nature of democracy;
  4. Ability to take apart a complex quantitative problem, and their ability to understand at an intuitive level the plausibility of the results;
  5. Ability to understand the relationship between nature and the technological world.

Faculty expectations:

    Students can expect faculty to be:
  1. Prepared for lectures, seminars and other program activities;
  2. To provide written feedback on assignments within one week;
  3. To hold scheduled office hours and be available for consultation at other times;
  4. To prepare a written evaluation, and
  5. To hold an evaluation conference with each student

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V. Fall Quarter Assignments

1. Students will be expected to turn in EACH THURSDAY a two page response paper on the week's reading assignments. This paper will identify the author's thesis in the book or article, identify the author's main conclusions, and discuss the student's response to the work. Each Thursday students will share their response papers with another student.

2. Assignment 2.; Instructions to be distributed September 30, paper due October 7.
In this assignment, you will be asked to identify and make up a list of all the objects of technology you use within the first hour of waking up, on a day of your choice. Be prepared to discuss your list in class.

3. Assignment 3. Instructions to be distributed on October 7, paper due on October 21.
in this assignment, you will be asked to pick an object of technology, and answer these questions

We will expect you to write a paper of between 5 to 7 double-spaced pages. Answering these questions will require research using the library and other resources.

4. The major project of the quarter will be an individual research project consisting of a paper of 10-15 pages and an in-class presentation. Each student will pick a particular technology and analyze it from a historical perspective. What happened when the technology was put into use? A section of the paper (summary and list of sources) will be due on the Monday of week 7.

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VI. Tentative Weekly Schedule

  • L2101- Peter
  • L2204- Larry
  • L2130- Anita
11:00 -1:00
Lecture (L3500)
*(Lunch Break)*
2:00 - 5:00
Seminar/Film (LH 03)
11:00 - 1:00
Computer Lab- GCC
  • Workshop A- L2101
  • Workshop B- L2204
*(Lunch Break)*
2:30 - 4:30
  • L2101- Peter
  • L2204- Larry
  • L2130- Anita
No Class Sessions

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VII. Tentative Week-by-Week Schedule

Week 1. Sept. 28

Program Introduction


Sept. 29

GCC: 1:00 pm
Computer Lab: Intro to e-mail and using the web

Sept. 30

Workshop A: Library Research
Workshop B: Seminar and group process skills

Seminar: Pollan Article
Weekly Paper due

Week 2. October 4


Reading: Mechanization Takes Command, Introduction and pgs. 46-127.

Oct. 5

Lecture: What is Technology?

Film: Sleeper

Oct. 6

GCC: 1:00pm

Computer Lab: Word Processing using Word

Oct. 7

Workshop: Writing and Rhetoric

Seminar: Mechanization Takes Command, pgs. 169- 246; 628- 712 (optional)

Weekly Paper Due
Assignment 1 due

Week 3. October 11


Reading: On Democracy, Parts I and II (pgs. 1 - 144)

Oct. 12

Lecture: Democracy

Film: Twelve Angry Men

Oct. 13

GCC: 1:00 pm
Computer Lab: Web Design I

Oct. 14

Workshop: Writing Workshop II

Seminar: On Democracy, parts III and IV (pgs. 145 - 199)
Weekly paper due

Week 4. October 18


Reading Understanding Scientific Reasoning Preface, Part 1 (pgs 1 - 118); Keller, Intro., Chapters 2, 4, 8

Oct. 19

Lecture: Philosophy of Science

Film: Lorenzo's Oil

Oct. 20

11am Computer Lab: Web graphics- Mac Lab

Oct. 21

Workshop: Research Design

Seminar: Economics and the Philosophy of Science, Part I (pgs. 3 - 88)
Weekly paper due
Assignment 3 due

Week 5. October 25


Reading Cohen, Ch. 14; article on the BPA

Oct. 26

Lecture: Dams and the West

Film: Blade Runner

Oct. 27

11am Computer Lab: Web graphics- Mac Lab

Oct. 28

Workshop: Editing

Seminar: The Double Helix
Weekly paper due
One page proposal for final project due
Oct. 29 FRIDAY: trip to Bonneville Dam

Week 6. November 1


Snow Crash

Nov. 2

Lecture: Fiction and Technology: Guest Lecture

No Film: faculty meetings with students Weekly paper due

Nov. 3

11am Computer Lab: Web graphics- Mac Lab

Nov. 4

No class sessions

Week 7. November 8


How Many People... Chapters 1 - 6, 8, 9

Sections of final paper due (summary and list of sources)

Nov. 9

Lecture: How Many People Can the Earth Support?

Film: TBAWeekly paper due

Nov. 10

11am Computer Lab: Web Authoring GCC

Nov. 11

Workshop: Estimation

Seminar: How Many People... Chapters 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18
Weekly paper due

Week 8. November 15


Article on Boeing
Living Downstream, Chapters 1 to 7

Nov. 16

Lecture: The WTO; Presentation skills

Film: Pi

Nov. 10

Field Trip to Boeing

Nov. 11

Workshop: Probability I

Seminar: Living Downstream, Chapters 8 to 12
Draft of final project due

Thanksgiving 21 - 28
Thanksgiving Break
Week 9. November 29


Technopoly, Pgs. 1 106

Nov. 30


Dec. 1


Dec. 2

Workshop: Probability II

Seminar: Technopoly, Pgs. 107 to 199; Cohen article

Week 10. December 6


Final Paper Due

Dec. 7

Student Presentations

Dec. 8


Dec. 9

Student Presentations

December 13 - 17
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