Mdia 3970-001 Communication Technology and the Environment (Spring 2014)

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MDIA 3970-001 Communication Technology and the Environment (Spring 2014)

Dr. Ed Youngblood

Contact Information: Email: Office: Tichenor 223 Office Phone: 334.844.0257

Class Meets: TR 9:30-10:45 am in C. E. Davis Aerospace Hall 302
Office Hours: MW 10:00-11:00 am; TH 11:00 am - 12:00 pm; and by appointment. Office hours will be held in my office (Tichenor 223) or in HC-1204. Office hours may be used for discussions related to coursework, and academic or career advising.
CLASS OVERVIEW: “The digital revolution, it turns out, is littered with rubbish.” (Gabrys, 5) The digital revolution has been accompanied by a tremendous amount of e-waste. Much of this e-waste is toxic to humans, animals, and the environment as a whole. The production of our digital technology is also far from benign, and has negative effects on both the environment and society. The media industry, however, cannot turn away from these technologies, and the production and use of older media technologies, such as print, film, broadcast media, the telegraph and the telephone, were also harmful to humans and the environment as a whole. At the same time that e-waste threatens the environment, the companies manufacturing communication technology and consumer electronics encourage us to replace these items with great frequency, in some cases going so far as to build them to fail early and make the devices difficult to work on. The production of media content can also be problematic, with issues ranging from energy consumption, to set construction, to efforts to modify the landscape to make it meet a specific visual aesthetic. This course is designed to help us learn about and wrestle with these issues, including ways to help lessen the environmental impact of the media industry.

This course is designed so that students will be able to:

  • explain differing ethical frameworks for viewing the environment

  • explain the environmental impact of the production of communication technology

  • explain the environmental impact of the use of communication technology

  • explain the environmental impact of production and distribution of media products

  • explain what planned obsolescence is, how it applies to communication technology, and what the implications are for the environment

  • discuss the life cycle of various communication technology products

  • discuss the legal issues and governmental policies associated with communication technology and the environment

  • explain ways to minimize the environmental harm caused by communication technologies

  • produce an organizational sustainability plan to minimize the environmental impact of communication technology

ASSESSMENT: Formal: Written and/or interactive projects, portfolios, exams, homework, class discussion. Informal: Polling the class, non-graded quizzes, active learning techniques, muddiest point activities.
REQUIRED TEXT: R. Maxwell & T. Miller, Greening the Media. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Other required readings will be available online.
ASSIGNMENTS: Assignment descriptions will be posted on Canvas. Assignments and online quizzes are due by 11:59 pm on the date indicated on the syllabus unless otherwise indicated. Assignment grades will be cut one letter grade (10 points) for each day the assignment is late. Some assignments may have multiple-parts. The assignment is not complete until all components are turned in. Points will be deducted for not following all instructions and/or if an assignment is not complete. Consult with the instructor at any time regarding any of the assignments. Readings for class will be discussed on the day listed on the syllabus. Students with university excused absences (see the Student Policy eHandbook) are still responsible for missed class material.

GRADING: Grading criteria will be provided for each assignment. Students will be evaluated on both the use of specific content creation tools as well as knowledge and ability to apply design concepts and techniques. I will assign final grades on a 10-point scale, with 90-100 equaling an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79, a C, 60-69 a D, 59 or below an F.

ATTENDANCE: Attendance in this class is mandatory. As the class meets in a computer lab, I may need to let you into the room. I will be by the door 5-10 minutes before class to let people in. You are allowed three (3) unexcused absences. Absences beyond that will result in a deduction of five (5) points from your final grade for each absence. Absences caused by extended illness or hospitalization will be considered as excused absences. The student is responsible for bringing adequate documentation and ensuring that their attendance is properly recorded. Students must present documentation within one week after they return to class unless arrangements are made with the Instructor. Make sure you sign the role sheet everyday. If you do not see the sheet, please ask me for it. Unless prior arrangements are made, you need to be in class the entire period to be counted as having attended class for the day. If you are more than 10 minutes late for class you are considered absent for that day. Students with university excused absences are still responsible for missed class material. For more information, see the Student Policy eHandbook (
WITHDRAWING FROM THE COURSE: Students may withdraw from the course through midsemester (Feb. 27) with no grade penalty. “W” assigned.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Students who need accommodations are asked to electronically submit their approved accommodations through AU Access and to make an individual appointment with the instructor during the first week of classes – or as soon as possible if accommodations are needed immediately. If you have not established accommodations through the Office of Accessibility, but need accommodations, make an appointment with the Office of Accessibility, 1228 Haley Center, 844-2096 (V/TT). Please note that I do not make accommodations without university verification, nor do I backdate accommodations.
DIVERSITY: The Department of Communication and Journalism recognizes the importance of both reflecting and teaching diversity. Our policy is intended to be inclusive of all underrepresented and minority groups whatever their race, religion, national origin, gender, age, ability or sexual orientation.
ACADEMIC HONESTY: All portions of the Auburn University Student Academic Honesty code (Title XII) found in the Student Policy eHandbook at will apply to this class. All academic honesty violations or alleged violations of the SGA Code of Laws will be reported to the Office of the Provost, which will then refer the case to the Academic Honesty Committee.
CLASS TIME IS FOR LEARNING. You are expected to stay focused on the class. The following activities are among those I consider inappropriate use of lab time—e-mail, playing games, surfing the Web, using chat programs. After the first warning, a student may be asked to leave the class with an unexcused absence. If you have an emergency situation that requires you to leave your phone on, please talk to me before class.
CIVILITY IN THE CLASSROOM: Students are expected to assist in maintaining a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. In order to assure that all students have the opportunity to gain from time spent in class, unless otherwise approved by the instructor, students are prohibited from engaging in any other form of distraction. The AU Classroom Behavior Policy is strictly followed in the course; please refer to the Student Policy eHandbook at for details of this policy. Students asked to leave the classroom for disruptive activity will not receive credit for being in class that day, i.e. it will counted as an unexcused absence. Before each class, please turn off or silence all cell phones, beepers, alarms, or any other electronic noise-making device.
EMERGENCY CONTINGENCY STATEMENT: If normal class and/or lab activities are disrupted due to illness, emergency, or crisis situation (such as an H1N1 flu outbreak), the syllabus and other course plans and assignments may be modified to allow completion of the course. If this occurs, an addendum to your syllabus and/or course assignments will replace the original materials.
COMMUNICATION: Course announcements will frequently be made by email using your Auburn email address and/or through Canvas. Make sure that you check your Auburn email account. Grades and some course material will be distributed using Canvas. Many of the course assignments will be turned in through Canvas as well. Because of the problems posed by spam, please put “RTVF 3970” in the subject line of any email you send me. Be aware that failure to use the correct subject line may mean that your email message will not be read. Students can typically expect me to respond within 24-hours during the week or by 5:00 p.m. on Monday if you email me late on Friday or over the weekend.


Issues Papers: 10%

Over the course of the semester, you will have a series of short papers that ask you to examine a range of issues related to communication technology and the environment including personal media use/ownership; how technology is produced, consumed, and disposed of; and how companies and governments handle technology-related issues.

Quizzes/Reading Responses: 10%

During the course of the semester, you will respond to several prompts on Canvas based on the readings, discussions in class, and/or class projects, as well as take online quizzes over the readings. In addition there may be pop quizzes in class.

Life Cycle Map: 15%

Each group will create a visual life cycle map following the life of a device from production through disposal. This includes looking at the raw materials used to create the device, how the device is produced, transported, sold, used, and disposed of. You will present these in class.

Sustainability Plan: 25%

Each group will create a media sustainability plan for an organization. This project includes a written report and in-class presentation.

Panel Presentations: 15%

Each group will be responsible for presenting an issue to the class and then leading a discussion of the issue, including an activity that engages the entire class. The presentation and discussion should take around 50-60 minutes. Each group should plan on scheduling a meeting with me the week before they present to discuss their presentation. Each group will be responsible for providing handouts for the class as well as providing me with an electronic copy of the handout the day before the presentation. You can use short video clips in class if appropriate, but all clips must be approved. Each topic is a bit different and may require different presentation styles. The team should select 1-2 readings to share with the class and will need to write a set of possible exam questions based on the presentation.

Midterm Exam: 12%
Final Exam: 13%




Topics & Readings (due date listed)

Assignment Due & Date


Jan. 9

Class Introduction
In class: The Great Smog of London


Jan. 14

Technology, Technology use, and Consequences

Unintended Consequences of Technology

Cellphone as a agent of change


Reading Response (Jan. 13)

Jan. 16

Technology, Technology use, and Consequences

A definition of pollution

A brief history of pollution

25 biggest man made environmental disasters

The real impact (infographic)
In class: Cuyahoga River videos

Sign up for groups


Jan. 21

Thinking about old technology

When old technologies were new

Future Schlock

Dead Media Project

History of Environmental Politics: “History of Environmental Transformation” (5-21)

Reading Response (Jan. 20)

Jan. 23

What do we own?

Issue Paper #1: Media Inventory (Jan. 22)


Jan. 28

Talking about the environment

Greening the Media, Intro & Chapter #1

Reading Response (Jan. 27)

Jan. 29 (15th Day)

Jan. 30

Environmental Ethics (possible guest lecture)

Watch: Trade Offs of Building Green. (YouTube)

Read: Leopold's Land Ethic


Feb. 4

Planned Obsolescence

Greening the Media, Chapter 3

Made to Break

Reading Response (Feb. 3)

Feb. 6

Film: The Light Bulb Conspiracy


Feb. 11

Conspicuous Consumption

Stop keeping up with the Joneses

Inconspicuous Consumption

Reading Response (Feb. 10)

Feb. 13

Environmental Economics (possible guest lecture)

An Economic Reality Check (Ted Talk)

Changing Behavior: A Social Marketing Approach
In class: The Poisoner's Handbook (PBS) Lead 


Feb. 18

Conflict Minerals

From mine to mobile phone

Tungsten’s tainted trail

Panel: Problems with Raw Materials

Feb. 20

Manufacturing & Workers

Greening the Media, Chapter 4

My gadget guilt

Do Chinese workers dream of iPads

Watch: Ted Talk: Voice of Chinese Workers (14 min)

Issue Paper #2: Technology Teardown (Feb. 24)

Panel: Health Issues


Feb. 25

Manufacturing & Workers (cont.)

Mid-Semester (Last Day to withdraw with no grade penalty; deadline for request to move final.)

Feb. 27

Midterm Exam


Mar. 4


The afterlife of cellphones (New Yorker)

Unwanted electronic gear rising in toxic piles (NYT)

High Tech Trash (National Geographic)

E-Waste Videos (in class)

60 Minute e-Waste Report (YouTube)

Frontline report on Ghana (PBS)

How to recover gold from scrap computer chips (YouTube) I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS.

Mar. 6

E-Waste (cont)

Greening the Music Industry (External Link)

Power Pollution & the Internet (NYT)

Panel: Industry Issues




Mar. 18

Building the Cloud (possible guest lecture)

Toward a green Internet (Science, v. 339: 1533-1534)

Is cloud computing always greener (EPA)

Power of the wireless cloud (CEET)

Panel: Powering Technology

Mar. 20

Sustainability Policies

Greening the Media, Chapters 5 & 6

WalMart’s Corporate Sustainability Policy

Reading Response (Mar. 24)


Mar. 25

Lifecycle Map Presentations

Lifecycle Map Presentations

Mar. 27

Government Sustainability Policies (possible guest lecture)

E-Government and Environmental Sustainability

National Strategy for Electronic Stewardship


Apr. 1

Governments & Policies (cont)

Discuss findings from reading response

Issue Paper #3: Policy Analysis (Mar. 31)

Apr. 3

Environmental group tries to sabotage wolf hunting season (NPR)

Panel: Protest


Apr. 8

Polluting Space (possible guest lecture)

Kessler Syndrome

Space Junk

The Growing Peril of Space Debris

Apr. 10

Can I fix it?

Greening the Media, Chapter 7 & Conclusion

iFixIt self-repair manifesto
In class: Hands on with Linux

Reading Response (Apr. 9)


Apr. 15

Can I fix it?: Panel discussion

Panel: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Apr. 17

Sustainability Plan Presentations


Apr. 22

Sustainability Plan Presentations

Apr. 24

Semester Wrap Up


Final Exam

Important University Dates (Not all of these may be in the schedule above)

  • Jan 15-29: Dropping a course during these days will result in a $100-per course drop fee.

  • Jan. 29: 15th Day. Last day to drop from course with no grade and for potential tuition refund for dropped classes.

  • Feb. 27: Mid-semester (36th day). Last day to withdraw from course with no grade penalty. "W" assigned. Student deadline for request to move finals.

  • Mar. 6: (41st class day). Student deadline for request to move finals to Associate Dean.


Maxwell, R., & Miller, T. (2012). Greening the media. Oxford University Press.

Book Chapters

Barr, S. (2012). “Changing Behavior: A Social Marketing Approach,” in Environment and society: Sustainability, policy and the citizen. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

Hays, S. P. (2000).  “A history of environmental transformation,” in A history of environmental politics since 1945. University of Pittsburgh Press.
Leopold, A. (1948). “The land ethic,” in A Sand County Almanac204.
Marvin, C. (1997). “Introduction,” in When old technologies were new. Oxford University Press.
Standage, T. (2014). “Preface,” in Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers. Bloomsbury, USA.


Haigh, N., & Griffiths, A. (2008). E-government and environmental sustainability: Results from three Australian cases. Electronic Government, An International Journal5(1), 45-62.

Kessler, D. J., Johnson, N. L., Liou, J. C., & Matney, M. (2010). The Kessler syndrome: implications to future space operations. Advances in the Astronautical Sciences137(8), 2010.
Postrel, V. (2008). Inconspicuous consumption. The Atlantic.
Recupero, D. R. (2013). Toward a Green Internet. Science339(6127), 1533-1534.
Schefter, J. (1982). The Growing Peril of Space Debris. Popular Science,221(1), 48-51.


Average Penguin. (2012) Technodeterminism.

Barboza, D. (2011). Workers Sickened at Apple Supplier in China. New York Times.

Carrol, C. (2011) High Tech Trash. National Geographic.
CEET. (2013) The power of wireless cloud.
Chang, L. T. (2012). Do Chinese Factory Workers Dream of iPads? New Yorker.
Glanz, J. (2012). Power, Pollution and the Internet, New York Times.
Healy, T. Unanticipated consequences of technology.
Huffington Post. Environmental Disasters Prove They Don't Heal Themselves (INFOGRAPHIC)

iFixIt Manifesto (2013).
Johnson, J. (2011). Gadget guilt. Wired.
Jones, M. (2010). The greening of the music industry. Business.
List25. 25 biggest man made environmental disasters in history.

Moolalem, J. (2013). The Afterlife of Cellphones, New York Times.
National Strategy for Electronic Stewardship (2011)
NOAA. (2008). A brief history of pollution.
NRDC (2012). Is Cloud Computing Always Greener?
Nurullah, A. S. The cellphone as an agent of social change. Forum: New media, new relations.
Prendergast, J. & Lezhnev. From mine to mobile phone.
Smith, L. Stop Keeping Up With The Joneses - They're Broke.

Smith, M. Tungsten’s Tainted Trail. Bloomberg.
Space Junk: How to Clean Up the Space Age's Mess. Discover Magazine.
Sterling, B. The dead media project.
Urbina, I. (2013). Unwanted Electronic Gear Rising in Toxic Piles, New York Times.


60 Minutes: E-Waste (2013).

Chang, L. T. (2012). The voices of China’s workers.
Cuyahoga River Pollution Ohio 1967.
Cuyahoga River Restoration.
Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground. (film).
The Great Smog of London.
How to recover gold from scrap computer chips. (YouTube).
Mohr, C. (2010). The tradeoffs of building green.
The Light bulb Conspiracy
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Lead in Gasoline (PBS)

Reading Responses
Reading Response #1 (Technology, Technology use, and Consequences)
For Tuesday, January 14th, I'd like you to read the following three articles:

  • Unintended Consequences of Technology (

  • Cellphone as a agent of change (

  • Technodeterminism (

Next, I'd like you to write a reading response providing a brief synopsis of the article's main points and a discussion of how you so these articles relating to the course's theme. You should write a 100-200 word paragraph for EACH of the articles. Be prepared to talk about what you got of the articles in class. Please turn in the assignment on Canvas as a .doc or .docx file (an MS Word compatible file). 

Reading Response #2 (Thinking about old technology)
Respond to the following three questions:
Short Answer

1) How does “When Old Technologies Were New” suggest that communication technologies change the relationship between groups? (a couple of sentences)

 2) What is Bruce Sterling concerned about in “The Dead Media Project” reading and why is it important? (5-10 sentences)


Longer answer

3) In “A History of Environmental Transformation,” Samuel Hays offers readers a VERY condensed history of environmental change before 1945. In around 150-200 words, discuss what you felt was the most surprising or interesting section of the chapter and why you found it be so.

Reading Response #3 (Environmental Ethics)
Respond to the following three questions:
1) In Greening the Media, the authors suggest we need to reevaluate how we look at media history, how do they see orthodox media history telling the story of media development and how does their approach differ? (75-100 words)

2) Identify and briefly describe (in your own words) the three ethical orientations the authors argue people typically take when evaluation an environmental problem. (100+ words) 

3) Take a moment to look at the recent chemical spill in West Virginia. Briefly describe how these three ethical orientations might be applied to evaluating the spill. (100+ words)

Reading Response #4 (Early Pollution and Planned Obsolescence)
Over the last week or so, you've learned a fair bit about the concept of planned obsolescence and also about pollution issues from a range of communication technologies. Based on the readings and the videos, answer the following questions:
From Chapter 2 (3-5 sentences for each question)

1) Briefly discuss how the introduction of steam presses and wood-based paper effected the environment. 

2) List and briefly explain three hazards posed by the telegraph (including the introduction of batteries).

From Chapter 3

1) In around 3-5 sentences, outline two of the major environmental issues posed by the early film industry.

2) In around 3-5 sentences, briefly explain the environmental impact of either the film The Titanic or The Beach on the local environment. 

Reading Response #5: Planned Obsolescence (a short paragraph)

Based on the film, what did the originator of the phrase mean for it to be and what has it become? Looking at your own communication technology use, what is your favorite/best example of planned obsolescence, how do you feel the designers encouraged it, and what, if anything, do you feel you or the designers could do to change things?

Reading Response #6: Conspicuous Consumption
You’ve read of articles examining the idea of conspicuous consumption. In around 300-words, discuss what conspicuous consumption is, why it exists, and how it differs among social and economic groups.

Reading Response #7 (Final Reading Response)
Over the course of the semester, you've looked at a wide range of issues regarding sustainability, the environment, and communication technology. The question is, can we apply this to our day-to-day life?

In 250-400 words help your family and friends (and yourself) prepare for the holiday season. (Yes, I know, it's 8-months away. Think of it as starting early). In the essay you should address the following issues.

You should devote about half the essay to each topic:
1) Outline the key issues consumers need to be aware of when selecting communication technologies to give as gifts. These issues should include issues with (a) raw materials, (b) manufacturing, and (c) recycling. Keep it simple. You want to hit the key things they need to know. 

2) Based on these issues, offer recommendations on how to make decisions on technologies. This could include resources to look at and should suggest specific products to purchase or avoid purchasing. 

Issue Paper #1 Media Inventory
Media Inventory: For this assignment, you will complete an inventory of your electronic media devices and then write a reflection paper based on what you have found. The assignment should be turned in as a Word-compatible file (.doc or .docx). You can do the inventory in a table or as a list by category.
Spend some time looking around your dorm room/apartment/house and make a list of the types of electronic media devices you own (don’t worry about brands). At a minimum, this should include:

  • digital cameras (still and/or video)

  •  phones (differentiate between smart phones and regular phones)

  •  televisions

  •  DVRs

  •  desktop computers

  •  laptop computers

  •  printers

  •  scanners

  •  stereo/surround systems

  •  radios

  •  video game systems

  • audio players/recorders 

  • Feel free to add categories I have missed. 

Next, list the age of the devices, whether they are working or not working,  and how long it has been since you have used the device (days, weeks, months, years, rather than hours or minutes). Next, how many physical books do you own?

Having completed the inventory, age of device, etc., answer the following questions (100 words per question):

1) As you look back over the list, which devices do you see yourself replacing the most often and least often. Why do you typically replace/not replace these devices/items?

2) Think about your most recent electronic media device purchases. Tell me how you decided to purchase that type of device(s) and how you decided on which brand/model to select. How do you think this might change on your next purchase?

3) If you have devices that are not working, do you know why they are not working and have you ever tried to fix the device or have the device fixed? Why have you decided to keep the broken device as long as you have?

Issue Paper #2: What’s Inside?
I am assigning each of you a device to look inside. Your assignment is to

  • identify the raw materials used in making the device

  • identify at least one country that produces each of the minerals

  • identify known health risks in extracting or processing these minerals

  • identify key chemicals used in the production process

  • identify known health risks chemicals/process used in the production process


You are welcome to use a table to put together the information. We will discuss these in class on March 20th. As you look for information on chemicals and such, you may find it helpful to look for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the item.

 Here are some starting points:

  • Seaton Chemicals

  • Where to find MSDS on the Internet

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

  • UC San Diego Safety Data Sheet Source (look at section start “Additional SDS Sources)

Issue Paper #3: Company Policies
In class, we looked at some of the sustainability policies promoted by WalMart ( In particular, we looked at the Environmental Sustainability section. You might also look at the environment and sustainability sections of their 2013 Global Responsibility Report ( Your assignment is to locate a corporate or government sustainability policy and write a 500-750 word paper that does the following:

  • summarizes the policy/polices

  • discusses potential problems you see with the policy including potential greenwashing (Wikipedia)

You can choose to work in groups on this, doing so may allow to draw some comparisons between the organizations. Be sure to include all the names on the project as well as any references you use (particularly the location of the plan).

  • You have the option to work in pairs on this project, but are NOT required to work with someone else.

Panel Presentation
Each group will be responsible for presenting an issue to the class and then leading a discussion of the issue, including an activity that engages the entire class. The presentation and discussion should take around 50-60 minutes. Each group should plan on scheduling a meeting with me the week before they present to discuss their presentation, if not earlier. You can use short video clips in class if appropriate, but all clips must be approved. Each topic is a bit different and may require different presentation styles. The team should select 1-2 readings to share with the class and will need to write a set of possible exam questions based on the presentation (2-3 per person). Each member will also need to write a short research paper (750-1000 words + references, title, etc.) on their topic that will be shared with the class. The paper should be on the topic discussed, but is not intended to be read in class.


Deliverables/To do for EACH person:

  • Meeting with Dr. Youngblood before the presentation (individually or as a group)

  • 750-1000 word paper. To be turned in on Canvas. This will be shared with the class.

  • 2-3 possible exam questions on your topic or questions that relate to the group as a whole. These should be given during the presentation.

  • A copy of your PowerPoint if you use one

  • Advance approval for videos

For the paper:
The paper should include the following heading/title information:

  • Your name

  • The title of your panel and the date of your panel

  • The subject of your specific talk

Sustainability Plan
Over the course of the semester, you have had an opportunity to examine a range of issues regarding communication technology and the environment. These include environmental ethics, health and safety issues, issues within specific industries, problems with power, and the life cycle of devices. Your final project is to communicate these issues to an organization by creating a communication technology sustainability plan for an organization. In doing so, you will need to research what devices the organization uses so that can develop a strong plan. Working in groups of 3-4, you will create a 12-15-page plan that

  • identifies the main technologies/devices used by the organization

  • provides guidance on how to select devices based on environmental impact and cost

  • recommends and justifies specific devices

  • recommends and justifies a replacement cycle

  • establishes procedures for how to correctly dispose of the devices

Possible organizations include

  • a city public safety department (including police and fire departments)

  • a small university

  • a public school district

  • a new municipal theatre designed to host concerts and other performances

  • a new TV/film studio

  • You will need to include a list of references.

As an alternative, your group could create a sustainability campaign that promotes sustainable communication technology practices. The campaign would be similar in structure to the sustainability plan, but the end product is a 5 minute public service announcement video with a companion website. As part of this assignment, you

Both projects will include a 15-minute panel presentation. Each person will turn in a 250-word self-reflection essay discussing what his or her take away from the project was. Both versions of the project will require a bibliography.

I developed this course and taught it in Spring 2014. The original course development included drawing on similar courses taught at other universities and I drew some of the assignments and readings from those syllabi. Over the course of the semester, however, I identified several areas that needed improvement. My thoughts on this were reinforced by comments from the student evaluations.
Based on my experience teaching the course and student input, I identified three areas I would like to work on for the next time I teach the course. My goals were to:

  1. work on revising and reducing the writing assignments to avoid duplication

  2. build a stronger supplemental reading list

  3. identify and recruit faculty and others as guest lectures.

One of the concerns students expressed was that some of the assignments were repetitive. In retrospect, I agree with them. To address this, I have removed several of the reading responses and have dropped the number of issue papers from five to three and rewrote some of the remaining assignments to incorporate ideas from the assignments that I removed. I have also rebalanced the grading scheme to reflect these changes.

My second concern was building a stronger readings list to supplement the main text. As part of this, I have added a number of videos for use in class, as well as some assigned videos for students to watch outside of class. I have also added a number of readings, including a unit looking at off-world pollution by the communication satellite industry, and am incorporating a hands-on class exercise and revitalizing old computer hardware using Linux.
Finally, I am continuing to try to identify potential guest speakers for my class and have talked with faculty and staff in aerospace, economics, and technical and professional communication. I plan to talk with faculty in history and the hard sciences as well.

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