[IGA 528. Technology and Policy]

Traditional economic growth theory treats technological change as the residual need to explain observed growth after accounting for capital and labor inputs. Newer economic theories treat technology as endogenous, but they, too, have a rather narrow view of how innovation works. Policy analysis too often borrows these view, taking technological change either as an abstract concept to be applauded or subsidized in general terms, or even as an exogenous force that simply shifts the balance of power between actors. Both of these views are too passive. From birth control to nitrogen fertilizers, society has shaped technology; and, technological change—revolutionary or incremental—has reshaped society. Governments seek to direct technology to their ends, be they environmental protection or economic growth, fostering democracy or enabling repression. Firms and civil society organizations likewise seek to direct technologies and are themselves reshaped by technological change. This course addresses the public policy of emerging technologies. The course is built on three case studies and a crosscutting technology analysis toolkit. For 2017 the three cases will (likely) be: solar geoengineering, CRISPR and related gene editing tools, and a historical look at civilian nuclear power. Each case study will combine lectures with a structured policy analysis exercise. Guest lectures will be used to bring a diversity of perspectives to each case. The technology analysis toolkit will cover tools for understanding and managing technological change grouped into four broad areas: assessment and forecasting, risk and decision analysis, public risk perception, and US government science and technology policy processes.

Notes: Likely offered Spring 2020.






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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2018-2019 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
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