Science, Technology and Public Policy

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Science, Technology and Public Policy
Special Course
Course CodeSPUB
Year Opened2013
Sites OfferedPRN
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2017):

Governments around the world must wrestle with crucial questions about how their policies affect science and technology and, in turn, how advances in science and technology affect their domestic and international affairs. Is global climate change a real concern, and, if so, how can it be slowed without disrupting economic activity? Is funding fetal stem cell research in an effort to cure diseases ethical? Should we spend vast sums to build the enormous particle accelerators required to make the next great advances in physics? How should scarce vaccines be distributed to prevent a possible epidemic? Answering these questions requires an interdisciplinary knowledge of science, philosophy, political science, and public policy.

In this course, students explore the nexus of science and public policy. They investigate the tools and methods policy analysts and science advisors use to assess these issues. They learn about how governments solicit expertise, determine funding, and regulate science research and technological industries. Students then work through a number of real-life case studies. They take on the role of government policy makers, deciding, for example, whether to build a new nuclear power plant and how to dispose of the radioactive waste, whether to invest in space exploration, or whether to require costly prenatal testing for birth defects. Students leave with an understanding of how science and technology affect national agendas and the public interest.