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48210 Interrogating Technology: Sustainability, Environment and Social Change

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2019 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Engineering
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level: Undergraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): ( 48250 Engineering Economics and Finance OR ((25115 Economics for Business OR 23115 Economics for Business)))

Description

This subject focuses on developing engineering students' approaches to understanding the interactions between engineering and society from a philosophical, sociological and political perspective. The subject introduces students to theoretical frameworks and research tools for researching these interactions. Topical case studies of new technologies and engineering projects are examined to ground the learning in students engineering contexts.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Recognise and represent major philosophical and ethical positions about technology, society and the environment.
2. Relate these positions to the roles and identity of engineers and public perception of these roles.
3. Evaluate diverse methods and techniques used to assess and mitigate technology impacts on the environment, society and the global commons.
4. Discuss the roles of professionals and communities in relation to securing sustainable futures.
5. Prepare a research proposal for undertaking a socio-political investigation of a socio-technical system.
6. Negotiate tasks and processes with team members.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following faculty Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs) and Engineers Australia (EA) Stage 1 competencies:

  • Identify constraints, uncertainties and risks of the system (social, cultural, legislative, environmental, business etc.), which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competencies: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 (A.3)
  • Apply principles of sustainability to create viable systems, which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competencies: 1.5, 1.6, 2.3, 2.4 (A.4)
  • Apply systems thinking to understand complex system behaviour including interactions between components and with other systems (social, cultural, legislative, environmental, business etc.), which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competency: 1.5 (A.5)
  • Synthesise alternative/innovative solutions, concepts and procedures, which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competencies: 1.1, 3.3 (B.3)
  • Demonstrate research skills, which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competencies: 1.4, 2.1, 3.4 (B.6)
  • Communicate effectively in ways appropriate to the discipline, audience and purpose, which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competency: 3.2 (E.1)
  • Work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams within a multilevel, multidisciplinary and multicultural setting, which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competencies: 2.4, 3.2, 3.6 (E.2)
  • Appreciate ethical implications of professional practice, which is linked to EA Stage 1 Competency: 3.1 (F.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

Block mode subject, previews themes and tasks in intensive meetings with mini-lectures and group work.

Students need to engage in pre-session tasks on UTSOnline including guided reading and responding to set questions. During the block sessions students will use their work for peer review/discussions/sprint presentations and tutor feedback. Block sessions allow for groups of students to collaborate in preparation for assignments. Feedback for assignments are provided to students in a number of ways including UTSOnline one-to-one feedback, group feedback, one-to-one student-staff interviews and peer reviews.

This is complemented by rich online learning resources, materials and case studies and referral to relevant developments, upcoming events and exhibits in the session.

A program of readings and reflective blog postings scaffolds the learning required for critical perspectives to interrogate chosen topics in subject tasks.

Content (topics)

  1. Introduction and preview of themes and tasks
  2. 'Interrogating Technology’: critical perspectives on
    • Sustainability
    • Environment
    • Social Change
  3. Preview of Media Watch in groups
  4. Researching to ‘Interrogate Technology’: skills and resources
  5. Thinking about technological change
  6. How do we decide what is ethical?
  7. What do we regulate and why?
  8. Technology as a driver for policy change
  9. Policy as a driver for technology change
  10. Public participation and consultation as if people mattered
  11. Learning Contract Proposal Preview
  12. Sharing expertise: who is an expert?

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Media Watch - Group Report & Peer Review

Intent:

The purpose of this Assessment Task is to look at technological development and engineering from the ‘outside’. You will examine how technological change is being discussed and understood in the public arena. This task requires that you become reflexive about your own perspectives and therefore a more conscious professional as you have to engage with stakeholders and non-engineers in the future.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 4 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following course intended learning outcomes (CILOs):

A.3, B.6, E.1, E.2 and F.2

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 20%
Length:

Media Watch is 2000 words including 3 summaries of 250-300 words each. Media Watch Peer Review is 500 words.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Topic is appropriate: you have been able to identify a controversy relevant to the role of engineers 13 1, 2 A.3
Media items chosen to give insights about topic/role of engineers 13 2 F.2
Media reports show historical development of topic 13 4 B.6
Discussion shows close reading and comprehension of relevant readings 13 1, 2 E.1, E.2
Ideas are well-argued and logically presented 13 4, 6 E.2
Peer Review assesses Peer Groupís MW against criteria with feedback 9 6 E.2
Postings are written with clear and grammatical English and structure 13 6 E.1
All sources are clearly and accurately referenced using Harvard referencing 13 6 B.6
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Learning blog

Intent:

This assessment task involves monitoring the development of your ‘social literacy’, that is learning to read, write, think and speak about the relationship between technology and society.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following course intended learning outcomes (CILOs):

B.6 and E.1

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 25%
Length:

Learning Blogs 1 and 4: 400 words and with references and a correctly formatted list in full. Blogs 2 and 3A/3B: 500 words including 250 for summary of article and with in-text references and a correctly formatted list in full.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Reponses are aligned with questions 20 1 E.1
Evidence of close critical reading and understanding of sources 20 1, 2, 3 E.1
Ideas are well-argued and logically presented 20 4 E.1
Written in clear and grammatical English 20 4 E.1
All sources are clearly and accurately referenced using Harvard referencing convention 20 1, 2 B.6
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Negotiated learning contract

Intent:

The purpose of this task is to plan and undertake an in-depth investigation of a topic relevant to this subject.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following course intended learning outcomes (CILOs):

A.4, A.5, B.3, B.6, E.1 and F.2

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 55%
Length:

1500 words plus references

Criteria:

This comprises 5% for approved Learning Contract Proposal and 50% for Learning Contract.

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Report qualifies as chosen option (Policy Position Paper, Design of Stakeholder Consultation) 10 1, 4, 5 A.4, F.2
References selected meet criteria 10 1, 3, 5 A.5, B.6
Wide and critical reading 10 1, 2 B.3, B.6
Information and ideas examined critically 10 2, 3 B.3
Ideas and information integrated effectively and coherently 10 5 B.3
Positions well-argued and supported by evidence 10 2, 3 B.6
All sources clearly and accurately referenced using Harvard referencing convention 10 5 B.6
Deliverable consistent with negotiated Learning Contract proposal which is attached with feedback 10 5 F.2
Report has a logical and effective structure 10 5 E.1
Language style formal and in clear and grammatical English 10 5 E.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

  • Interrogating Technology Readings, can be borrowed from Learning Precinct 11.05.300.

This is supplemented by selected sources posted on UTSOnline to extend choice of readings for the Learning Blog across the three themes of: technology and ethics; regulation and policy making, and expertise and public participation.

  • Morley-Warner, Terri 2009 Academic Writing is ..: a guide to writing in a university context, Association for Academic Language & Learning Inc

Recommended texts

Also recommended and held by the Co-op Bookshop ($59.95) is:

Maddison, S. and Denniss, R. 2009 An Introduction to Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne

References

Students will be required to complete readings from the texts mentioned in the Required texts section.

Other resources

There is a comprehensive Bibiography in the Learning Guide for this subject which is on UTSOnline. There will also be links to relevant Internet sites and Library references through the subject's UTSOnline site.

All students will have an account on the 48210 Interrogating Technology site on UTSOnline. All students are expected to check this site at least once a week for any Announcements. Subject staff will rely on students' email addresses registered on UTSOnline for out of class official communication during the semester; it is therefore essential that students ensure that their current email address is registered on UTSOnline, and that they check their email account at least once a week.