ERIC Number: ED199143
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980-Aug
Teaching with Engineers and Scientists: What Role for Sociology?
Kolack, Shirley; MacDougall, John
This paper explores whether or not sociology may be integrated into courses on technology and values at the college level. Sociologists are interested in collaborating with scientists and engineers because many of the most urgent social issues of the late 20th century seem to lie at the interface of social values and technological change. The authors first describe the technology and human values courses they are teaching at the University of Lowell in Massachusetts. The courses are taught by an interdisciplinary team consisting of sociologists, historians, a scientist, and an engineer. A three-week summer workshop was held for the teaching team. Students meet three times a week, twice in large lecture sessions and once in small discussion groups. All the instructors lecture at intervals throughout the course and attend each others' lectures. To illustrate the case study approach used in the course, the authors describe and examine two specific case studies covered: "Einstein, Relativity and the Sociological Imagination" and "Energy Choices and the Analysis of Social Values." The authors state that student evaluations indicate a significant increase in the sociological consciousness of many students. In the concluding section of the paper, the authors offer some suggestions for improving the course content and the pedagogical style that (1) the faculty spend less time in formal workshops and more time in informal discouse with one another; (2) lectures should contain less detail; (3) the scientists and engineers should reduce the amount of technical exposition and increase the time spent on analyzing social contexts and value choices; (4) the sociologists need to do a better job spelling out how the application of sociological concepts and data sheds valuable light on the content and source of values and on how to make intelligent policy choices; and (5) the small group discussions need to be improved. (Author/RM)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (New York, NY, August, 1980).