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Science, Technology, and Society in China I: Basic Concepts

What are science, technology, and innovation? How do science, technology, and innovation inform our understanding of developments in the social sphere? How have these domains evolved in the Chinese context? In this course, we will examine these issues and attempt answering these and many other questions!


Course at a Glance


About the Course

Science and technology continue to play an increasingly central role in our lives, not least in countries such as China that are undergoing rapid technological, economic and social change. This course is the first of a trilogy of short courses on science, technology, and society in China. Here, we explore in general terms how engineering as well as scientific knowledge and practice are influenced by dynamic interactions between science, technology, innovation, and society. The course will introduce the innovation systems approach, laying the groundwork for mastering the remaining two parts of the course by introducing broad concepts and ideas to provide students with a platform on which to think about the science/technology–society relationship and related policy issues with a focus on China. This understanding will then be applied more specifically to China in the next two courses in the series. Part II will examine the impact of the Industrial Revolution in the West on scientific and technological progress in China. Part III will examine science and technology in Chinese society today and the basis for the policy prescriptions the Chinese government is currently employing to promote innovation and technology development.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: Definitional Issues
Week 2: Impact of Modern Science and Technology (S&T) in China
Week 3: Systems of Innovation and Innovation Policy

Recommended Background

No prior specialized background knowledge is required. All it takes is an enthusiasm for learning and at least a passing interest in science, technology, and/or China.

Course Format

The class will consist primarily of lecture videos, which will be enriched with comprehension quizzes and discussions. There will also be short standalone written assignments that are independent of the video lectures.