Spring 2021  |  PA 5715 Section 001: Survey of Current Issues in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (54110)

Class Component:
1.5 Credits
Grading Basis:
A-F only
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
Completely Online
Class Attributes:
Online Course
Enrollment Requirements:
Graduate Student
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
01/19/2021 - 05/03/2021
Thu 01:00PM - 02:15PM
Off Campus
Enrollment Status:
Open (17 of 25 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Current topics in science, technology, and environmental policy. prereq: Grad or instr consent
Class Notes:
Class will be offered REMOTELY. Class will meet synchronously-online during Spring 2021 during the scheduled time. http://classinfo.umn.edu/?kelle644+PA5715+Spring2021
Class Description:
This class is run as a guided book club with students regularly taking responsibility for leading the discussion of the assigned book. It is a seminar style rather than a lecture class. The policy-related subjects we are likely to cover in Spring 2021 are social psychology and neuroscience, environmental justice, energy and climate change, information and communications technology, and food and agriculture. For example, the lead book will be The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. For some sessions, we will have guests who may give short presentations but will then engage in discussion with the class. The goals for students are that you will: Gain an understanding of current "hot" topics in science, technology and environmental policy; develop critical thinking skills; develop facilitation and discussion skills; understand the social and historical contexts of current issues; and become a discerning participant/observer in science, technology and environmental policy. Evaluations are based on short papers and class participation.
Who Should Take This Class?:
Students who are interested in science and technology policy particularly as it intersects with issues of equity and the environment.
Learning Objectives:
The objective of this course is to explore current topics at the interface of science, technology and public policy. Specific learning objectives for students include gaining an understanding of current "hot" topics in science, technology and environmental policy; developing critical thinking skills; developing oral presentation and discussion skills; and understanding the social and historical contexts that have led to the current topics. The class will be taught in a seminar style, with the expectation that there will be significant student participation, including students facilitating discussion.
Gain an understanding of current "hot" topics in science, technology and environmental policy;
 Develop critical thinking skills;
 Develop oral presentation and discussion skills;
 Understand the social and historical contexts; and
 Become a discerning participant/observer in science, technology and environmental policy.
30% overall participation
10% class group facilitation
60% essays
Exam Format:
There is no exam. There are short required essays throughout the semester with a somewhat longer synthesis paper at the end.
Class Format:
The course is structured in six modules of two class sessions, with an introductory session and a final synthesis session in addition to the modules. Each module is centered on a single book which students will be asked to read in its entirety by the first session of the module. Students will be assigned to groups and asked to lead the discussion in the first session of each module. Students will write brief reflections on each book for the first session of each module.
Students have found that it can be a challenge to read the six books. However, the books are written for a general rather than an academic or technical audience. Students have not generally reported that the reading and the writing assignments exceed the University's workload guidelines.
Past Syllabi:
http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/kelle644_PA5715_Spring2018.pdf (Spring 2018)
http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/kelle644_PA5715_Spring2016.pdf (Spring 2016)
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
1 December 2020

ClassInfo Links - Spring 2021 Public Affairs Classes Taught by Steve Kelley

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