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Technology Readings

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September | October | November | Final Exam

Readings by short titles of chapters & selections from authors

Neil Postman, Technopoly
Carroll Pursell, White Heat.
Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization   [TWC]
Charles P. Snow, Two Cultures.
Simon Head, Mindless.

Michio Kaku, Visions

Mark E. Eberhart, Why Things Break.

When do we read that?

The class is arranged in four sequential steps: clarify, organize, reflect and examine concepts. That spells core!

C o r e


Clarify matters we are studying:

• defining technology nine ways!

Monthly problem: technologies play what role in sustaining our contentment?

Under construction

To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.


Weeks, Dates, and Days

26            Are we more than just the reflection of the tools we use? Introducing the course & Core            
28            Pre-test, What is technology? A hand-on experience and using on-line services for the class.  

2                Postman pp. xi-20; Ch. 1, What did Thamus decide to do and how is that crucial to describing inventions?
4                Looking at interviews & how to ask people questions about the uses of & influences of technology.    

9                Pursell     1, pp. 12-35.           How does technology alter, or express the essence of humane behavior?
11             Postman 2, pp. 21-39.          Tools, technocracy and technopoly, how do these arguments differ?

16             Pursell     2, pp. 36-63.           Myths about inventors, inventions and meeting human needs.
18             Pacey      1-2-3, pp. 1-57.     The Asian source and origins of modern western technology.
                                    interviews of at least three people and your summary of their ideas is Due.
23             Pursell     3, pp. 64-91.           Technical influences on our perception of the world around us.
25             Do attend a Panel at Global Peace Film Fest & watch two films in a week, no class for responses on 2 films.

30             Pursell     4, pp. 92-117.        The madness of any technically influenced rat-race of planned obsolescence.

2                TJs            Writing about what is Technology using the authors analytically. Bring a draft of your paper.

7                Pacey pp. 58-72. Postman 3, pp. 40-55.            What is technopoly as opposed to technocracy?
9                Postman 4, pp. 56-70.          An Improbable world. How misunderstood is our automated society?
                                    Paper on what is technology? Due.
14             October 11-14 Fall Break, no class on Tuesday.

16             Pursell 5, pp. 188-143.          How science and technology are hopelessly confused.

21             Pacey 5, pp. 73-91.                Gunpowder and the acceleration of destructive creation
23             Pacey 6-7, pp. 92-130.         Concepts in tectonic and organizational & sociotechnical parallel changes

28             Pacey 8-9, pp. 131-167.       How important are metal, guns, and rails to build & maintain empires
30             Postman 5-6, pp. 71-106.    How do technological demands leave you defenseless?

4                Pacey 10, pp. 168-186.        Are scientific revolutions and dreams a prototype of automation?
6                Postman 7-8, pp. 147-143.   What are the meanings of computers and hidden technologies?
                                    Paper on to what extent has technology changed society and how big is the influence? Due.
11             C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: Science and the Arts forever at war or is this a truce?
13             C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: What is a debatable premise or are there premises in his arguments?

17             Debate prep select teams and teams decide on the arguable premises.
20             Debate    teams, debate team one.

25             Debate    teams, debate team two.

2                Head, Mindless, pp. 1-102. What is the role of CBS's in the "new industrial state"?
4                Head, Mindless, pp. 103-194. Emotional Labor and how is it at risk from military & corporations?

12            Friday, 2 – 4 PM                  Final exam

Expectations for Student Learning outcomes for ecological history:
A Rollins student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic acquisition of information truthfully reported at all times.

  • Information literacy by the use of computer assisted learning by your identifying and describing key sources of evidence presented by primary sources and texts used in the class.
  • Communication Skills. Active participants will learn to organize and express their thoughts clearly and logically in writing and verbally by frequent informal and ungraded exercises.  
  • Critical Thinking. Active participants will practice written analysis to apply historical methods to critically evaluate the record of past events and how the text's authors have interpreted significant ecological, social, and economic turning points.  
  • Research Skills. Active participants will acquire and use basic historical research skills, including the effective use of the Internet, libraries, archives, and museums with appropriate texts or databases to show their information literacy.  
  • Writing and Intellectual Integration. Active participants may demonstrate their mastery of the knowledge and skills involved in historical analysis by conceptualizing and executing a significant piece of interpretive writing based on more than three author's explicit arguments and related ideas on a clearly defined topic.
  • Active participants will have repeated opportunities to demonstrate an accurate knowledge of historical events where biological factors influenced how people responded to conditions and the significance of specified periods where ecological disasters altered economic and social development.
  • Active participants demonstrate in writing and verbally skills of critical analysis:
    • Formulating persuasive arguments based on evidence from texts.
    • Evaluating evidence and critiquing author's claims in the assigned readings.
  • Understand fundamental physical and biological principles that govern technological processes. (Geography, isolation, dystopian & utopian views, food sources, population growth.)
  • Compare and contrast fundamental concepts from the social sciences and the humanities underlying historical thought and economic analysis. (Culture, religion, creativity, inventors, gender and prejudice, tool-use, labor theory of value, culturally specific implements.)
  • Integrate and apply perspectives from across the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities in the context of complex technological problems. (Mechanization, industrialization & automation, wage slavery, robotics, nanotechnology, and the paradox of: Kranzberg's laws, economic development, or technological change on cultural expression.) 
  • Communicate integrated perspectives on complex social problems in the form of written and oral argument to both professional and lay audiences how the impact of technology on cultural norms and economic production and consumption on influenced the land, labor and capital accumulation of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Independently design and construct formal oral arguments and written essays that describe and summarize examples of historical conditions that created predicaments or problems that made the adoption of or blocking of new technology a pivotal watershed in a people's history.

Each assignment that is submitted on Blackboard has an accompanying statement of outcomes, such that you can see before and after you write the paper what the terms by which your papers and other assignments are awarded points and ultimately a grade. I track the amount you write as well as the quality of the arguments you make, regardless of the grade you earn.

Friday 12/12 : 2 – 4 PM Final exam is an oral presentation of your written findings.

A. Submit a rewritten essay based on previous two papers and all the authors (20%)

B. You present a rehearsed and engaging verbal summary of your paper and focusing on what you learned specifically from the authors lasting from 4 -5 minutes in length of presentation. Music may accompany your talk but not video clips. You stay for the entire 2 hours. (10% of grade is oral present).

All work that you submit, including blogs, e-mails, and texts, must be your own words, or have an acknowledgment as to whose words, ideas, or beliefs are being used and from where.


ENV 260.1: Tools of Toil: History of Technology, is a course that carries 4 hours of credit and counts as an Environmental Studies elective or as the general education's "Knowledge of Western Civilization" requirements, elective course because learning is focused on historical analysis.

Course Requirements:

Blackboard                              5
Pretest                                     5
Reading and recitation            5
Active Class Participation       15
Writing                                     20
Writing                                     20
Final essay                              20
Final presentation                    10

Percentage range for Grade Scale

93-94-95-96    A
90-91-92         A-
87-88-89         B+
83-84-85-86    B
80­-81-82         B-
77-78-79         C+
73-74-75-76    C
70-71-72         C-
67-68-69         D+
63-64-64-66    D
60-61-62         D-
59 & lower      F


I am here to excite and encourage you to excel in learning new concepts and practicing your writing and speaking abilities to improve your expression and in an effort to create meaningful discourse. My purpose is to feed your inquiring intellect with significant ideas in a coherent and challenging manner. I anticipate you will ask questions and actively work together to overcome the challenges the course material may pose for you in achieving an excellent level of performance based on an improved, articulated understanding of the readings. I recommend you to discuss perplexing ideas, passages, and assignments with me–at length–during my office hours.

A statement about accommodating students with significant concerns.
Rollins College is committed to equal access and does not discriminate unlawfully against persons with disabilities in its policies, procedures, programs or employment processes. The College recognizes its obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide an environment that does not discriminate against persons with disabilities.
If you are a person with a disability on this campus and anticipate needing any type of academic/medical accommodations in order to participate in your classes, please make timely arrangements by disclosing this disability in writing to the Disability Services Office at (Box 2772) – Mills Building, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, FL, 32789. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 407-646-2354 or by emailing: mailto:gridgeway@rollins.edu

My policies:

Active learning

Keep in mind that participation in this course involves not only alertness and verbally contributing your ideas, but also listening respectfully without interrupting other speakers who are presenting their views on the assigned readings. Paying attention to others and to me is a sign of respect that I will reward. The use of electronic media, texting, or web browsing for other than class purposes is treated as an absence since texting, internet surfing, e-mailing, or being digitally inattentive to our discussion during class meetings robs us of your intellect’s contributions to our discourse. Students on unauthorized Internet site will be asked to leave the class for that day and lose participation points for the week.

Late papers

Submit all assigned work on or before the start of the class on the day the assigned work is due. Late papers cannot earn the same credit as those received on time in fairness to the punctual students. This is really because we discuss in the class the day the essays are due some of what you had written. Always back-up your work as you write, start at least a week before, and keep a printed copy of the essay you give me.

Paper format

The look of any college paper is always a professional document with an accurate date and page numbers indicating when the work was completely written. I ask you to place a cover page with your name, phone number, essay title, and an abstract of two to four sentences covering the substance of your essay for purposes of privacy because I make extensive comments on your work, that you must read in order to revise the essays. Spelling and grammar errors are unacceptable. All papers are to be typed, double spaced, in Arial or times new roman font, have one inch margins with 23 lines to the page as a minimum.

Academic honesty & writing with integrity

Cheating, borrowing ideas, or copying without proper citation diminishes the integrity of any writing. The habitual resort to these less than responsible practices amounts to plagiarism–a most serious academic offense of novices and experts alike. By the use of words or ideas that are not your own and are insufficiently accredited, or not acknowledged at all, you undermine an essay’s reliability. The consequences are that you can fail that project, or even fail the class, since these offenses are a violation of the College’s honor code. As such, I am obligated to report such violations to the Dean.

Carroll Pursell, White Heat. http://myweb.rollins.edu/~jsiry/PursellChapters.html
Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization. http://myweb.rollins.edu/~jsiry/PAceyTWCOverview.html
Neil Postman, Technopoly. http://myweb.rollins.edu/~jsiry/PostmanSummary.html
Charles Percy Snow, Two Cultures. http://myweb.rollins.edu/~jsiry/C_P_Snow-Two_Cultures-Essay.html
Simon Head, Mindless,


Use the internet link to concepts, notes, themes, details, and people discussed in class is at:





C o r e

What is CORE? The way the class is organized into sequential parts leading to you evaluating sources.

Visual Contents

Readings by short titles of chapters & selections from Authors