Science, technology and modern society

Course description

New scientific and technological developments are often presented and promoted as essential steps in a long-standing and inevitable process of modernization. But what exactly do we mean when talking about 'modern' society and about science and technology as signposts of 'modernity'? In this course we will explore the relationship between science, technology and modern society from a historical perspective. We will discuss the bearing of science and technology studies and theories of modernity upon historical accounts of the co-evolution of science, technology and modernity. The central aim of this course is to introduce students to the historical study of science, technology and modernity and its empirical, theoretical and methodological aspects. As a part of this, students will be introduced to the research themes of the history group of the department.

The aim of this course is that you learn to develop a thesis on the course's theme of your own. You do so by analyzing the development of a particular technology in terms of the co-evolution with modernity. In this way you learn research skills on the level of combining theoretic viewpoints from various disciplinary fields, of searching and selecting appropriate empirical material, and developing a well-informed thesis of your own. You will do so in a couple of steps consisting of assignments that build up to a final essay. The course is explicitly aimed at having you learn from each other, by presenting, commenting and discussing each others products.

Contact: F.J. Dijksterhuis