Faculty in the News In the News

January 18, 2017 at 7:59 am

Post: ‘Fire to iPhone’ Explores Relationship Between Humanity and Technology

Fire to iPhone theme logo, with flames on an iPhone.

The Posts’ Sean Wolfe interviewed College of Arts & Sciences faculty from the Fire to iPhone theme for a story headlined “‘Fire to iPhone’ theme explores relationship between humanity and technology.”

In a world of iPhones, self-driving cars, drones and virtual reality, technology may appear to be a brand new facet of human development. Committee members of the Fire to iPhone theme, however, would argue otherwise: technology has existed for most of human history.

The Fire to iPhone theme, soon to be renamed “Technology and Society,” offers a curriculum of classes revolving around technology and how it both changes over time and affects human life. The theme, entering its third year, now has its own certificate as well, Rosemary Rossiter, the coordinator to the theme, said in an email.

From pondering ethical issues concerning privacy and global positioning systems to discussing new mediums like Twitter and Snapchat, students in the course are introduced to classes from a multitude of departments, including English, geology and economics….

Gaurav Sinha, an associate professor of geography and a steering committee member of the theme, teaches a class about geographic information systems (GIS). He takes a particular interest in the human element of technology, and stresses the importance of understanding the way certain technologies, and the lack of them, can affect everyday life.

“What kind of expectancy should you have with technology?” Sinha said. “Yes, they’re great, but what if you never learn how to read a map and you only trust your GPS, and then your GPS doesn’t work? What are you going to do?”…

While English classes may not appear at first to be related to technology, Sherrie Gradin, an English department chair and a steering committee member of the theme, believes there is considerable overlap between the two subjects.

In some of the English courses offered, Gradin said students are introduced to new forms of media, like Twitter or other social media, and then engaged in discussion about their various uses.

“What does it mean, composing in this kind of media?” Gradin said. “What does it matter? What’s at stake in a language world? What does it tell us about our relationships with us as humans and the communication that we’re trying to enact in these media?”

Read the entire story in the Post.

 

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