John Tharakan, PhD (Professor of Chemical Engineering)
John Trimble, PhD (Professor of Systems and Computer Sciences)
Taft Broome, PhD (Professor of Civil Engineering)
David Schwartzman, PhD (Professor of Biology)
Bruce Dahlin, PhD (Professor of Sociology)
Brian Stephenson, PE (Civil Engineering)
Philosophy and Ethics of Appropriate Technology
Philosophy and Ethics of Appropriate Technology
Fall Semester 2004
Facilitator: Dr. Charles Verharen
Contact: - email@example.com
Objective: The purpose of this course is to expose students of different disciplines to the technology development process and how it has been shaping our society. A special attention is going to be given to ways in which individuals can contribute to a positive change from different disciplines related to technology.
Description: The course will cover topics of different disciplines including: The Social Effects of Technology, Appropriate Technology, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Engineering, Engineering Ethics, and Community Service. The subject nature is extremely interdisciplinary which makes it desirable to have a class of students with diverse backgrounds and different areas of study. The interaction between students reacting to the course material is one the most valuable outcome of the course.
Key Terms: Appropriate Technology, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Engineering, Engineering Ethics, Good-Work Projects, Responsibility, Social Justice, Competition, Cooperation, Education, Revolution.
WEEK 1 (Sept. 2): Introduction to the course [Dr.Verharen/Dr.Tharakan/M.Castro]
Appropriate Technology in general (definitions)
- Journey to Forever: Appropriate Technology http://journeytoforever.org/at.html
- What is Appropriate Technology? http://www.gdrc.org/techtran/appro-tech.html
Philosophy of Technology
- Presumed Neutrality of Technology, by: Norman Balabanian [Controlling Technology-Thompson pp.249-264]
- In Praise of Technology, by: Samuel Florman [Controlling Technology-Thompson pp.148-156]
Is Technology Neutral?
- Google Search: "Is Technology Neutral"
Current Issues (for example)
- Biotechnology and terrorism
- Teaching Online and Virtual Education
What Is Appropriate Technology?
WEEK 2 (Sept. 9): Case Study 1: Appropriate Technology in Zimbabwe [Dr.Trimble]
WEEK 3 (Sept. 16): Engineering Ethics and the Ethics of Engineering [Dr.Verharen/Dr.Broom]
Study Cases: Engineering Ethics
- Ford Pinto: Pinto Madness, by: Mark Dowie (1977)
WEEK 10 (Nov. 4): Responsibility of Engineers, and Technology Developers [Dr.Trimble/Dr.Harris]
- Distributability Problems and Challenges to the Future Resolution of Responsibility Conflicts; by: HENS LENK, Techné: Journal of the Society for Philosophy and Technology; Summer 1998 Volume 3 Number 4
- Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution; by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
- Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba Edited by: Fernando Funes, Luis García, Martin Bourque, Nilda Pérez, and Peter Rosset; https://commerce12.pair.com/~pront011/Merchant2/related
- Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, by: E. F. Schumacher
- Good Work by: E. F. Schumacher, and Peter N. Gillingham
- In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations by: Jerry Mander
- Paper Heroes: Appropriate Technology: Panacea or Pipe Dream? by: Witold Rybczynski
- Appropriate Technology Sourcebook: A Guide to Practical Books for Village & Small Community Technology by:Ken Darrow and Mike Saxenian
- Controlling Technology: Ethics & Responsible Engineer; by: Stephen H. Unger
Appropriate technology is being mindful of what we're doing and aware of the consequences. Appropriate technology works from the bottom up; it is not an overlay to the situation; it is a genuine grassroots solution to economic needs. In the Industrial World small businesses account for more technological advances in their areas of expertise than government supported researchers or research departments in massive corporations. Third World craftspeople, farmers and other villagers invent, create, and contribute to the technological process of their area much more than outside "experts" do.
The idea of appropriate technology is that local people, struggling on a daily basis with their needs, understand those needs better than anyone and can therefore suggest or in fact, invent the technological innovations necessary to meet those needs. Not only that, local people can prioritize solutions to save precious funding and labor. Planners and those who want to help others grapple with food and energy problems are wise to include local people in the early stages of project vision. The result is consistency in the carry-through of the work by locals and continued maintenance and interest in the well-being of the project over the long haul.
While grassroots activity is vital in developing appropriate technology, a larger view is definitely called for in understanding how organizations can combine funds and human resources to develop and market technologies. Communication among international aid agencies can greatly enhance efficient use of funds for appropriate technology and a reduction of the "reinventing the wheel" syndrome.
The definition of "Appropriate Technology" changes with each situation. It's not appropriate to install solar modules in a place with very little sun, a wind generator in a place with little or no wind. What's appropriate in a large urban location is very different from what's appropriate in a remote, isolated environment. One quality that remains the same, however, is taking care of things. In each situation, the essence of AT remains appreciating, helping, caring. Planned obsolescence, throw-away products, poor quality all go against intelligent decision-making and the true spirit of appropriate technology.
- Steve Troy, Jade Mountain Inc.
So What Does “Appropriate Technology” Actually Do?
It meets people's real needs
It protects the environment for everybody
It uses and enhances local skills and materials and resources
It enables people to earn a living through knowledge transfer and capacity building: it empowers local communities