In this sequence of assignments, we will explore fundamental issues arising in our study of the future. The goals of this assignment are:
❧ To form questions encouraging thoughtful analysis, writing and argument;
❧ To develop a course vocabulary;
❧ To identify problems and analyze ideas in response to the course readings;
❧ To comment on, and help integrate, the questions, key words and phrases, and responses into class discussion;
❧ To address the questions, key words or phrases, responses, and discussions in exams.
The Question Formation and Analysis assignment consists of two parts:
Part 1: Leading Discussion—comprised of question formation, key words and phrases entry, and class presentation — and
Part 2: Participating in Discussion—comprised of responses to questions, class discussion, and assessment.
Part 1: Leading Discussion
You have been placed in five presentation teams. As part of the team, you will help lead the class discussion once during the semester. You will pose questions and offer key words and phrases on, and related to, the readings. Using the questions, key words and phrases, and responses, discussion groups will prepare and orchestrate class discussion. Questions, key words and phrases, and responses will be posted to pages on our Canvas site.
Leading Discussion: Question Formation
As assigned on the course calendar, each discussion group will develop three to five concisely worded questions based on the assigned readings, related readings and/or on related issues and topics. For each question, please provide a page reference (or references) to the assigned texts—or to outside texts—that indicate your thinking as you formed the question, why you formed the question as you did, and how the question might be approached. For assigned readings, you need only provide the title or author and page number. For outside sources, please provide full citations.
Please post your questions to the appropriate page no later than 6 p.m. on Friday (the Friday before we discuss the readings on Tuesday).
The purpose of the questions is to encourage thoughtful analysis, writing and argument. I offer the following prompts to encourage an analysis of the questions as you pose them:
❧ What interrogative is used? Is this a 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when' question? Such questions often seek a more declarative or descriptive answer. Is this a 'how' or 'why' question? Such questions seek causal explanations.
❧ What kind of thinking does the question provoke? Does the question ask for a description? A judgment? An opinion? Data?
❧ How is the question posed structurally? Is the question short, long, compound, over determined, vague, careless, precise, wordy?
❧ How might the question be answered? What resources might be needed to answer the question — personal opinion, experience, expertise, experiment, close reading of the text, interpretation?
❧ Who does the question ask the respondent to be? Fellow seeker? Novice? Dope? Collaborator? Believer? Cynic? Judge? Agent of change?
❧ What is the goal of the question? Affirmation and Confirmation? Provocation? Knowledge seeking? Information?
❧ When might the question be answered? Does the question assume an immediate answer? Does the question assume a certain vision of the future? Does the question assume a certain understanding of the past? Of current events?
Leading Discussion: Key Word or Phrase Entry
While analyzing the reading, discussion group members will select a total of three to five key words, or phrases. These words or phrases should reflect what you determine as significant or fundamental aspects of the argument or analysis being offered by the author(s). These words or phrases could be a new coinage ("the singularity"), or common terms ("technology," "actor"), or phrases ("technomoral virtue ethic"). In your entry, please explain why and how word or phrase shapes the author's argument and analysis and, so, our understanding of science and technology. If the group chooses a word, or phrase, selected previously, please explain the relevant differences. In making your choices, please consider that we seek to construct, in part, a shared and meaningful vocabulary for understanding the interrelationship among science, technology, and society.
Please provide brief entries—250 to 500 words—for each key word or phrase. Post your keywords in alphabetical order—making sure to show your authorship—to the Key Words and Concepts page no later than 6 p.m. on Friday (the Friday before we discuss the readings on Tuesday).
The idea of developing a "record of an inquiry into a vocabulary" comes from Raymond Williams Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976).
Leading Discussion: Class Discussion
The discussion groups will use their questions, key words and phrases entries and class members' responses as the basis for structuring an in-class discussion of the assigned reading and related topics. discussion groups may conduct the class in any manner they choose. However, each group should spend the final five to ten minutes of the presentation pulling together the main themes and ideas raised in the discussion—a moment of synthesis if you will. Our goal is a cogent discussion about the issues and ideas raised in, and related to, the assigned reading.
Part 2: Participating in Discussions
If you are not leading a given week's discussion, please select a question to which to respond. You do not need to answer all the questions posed, just the one you choose. Your response should be roughly 300 to 500 words. Concision is a virtue. In your response, please give a reference, or references, to the assigned reading—or to outside texts—that indicate the basis for your analysis and argument.
Please post your responses to the apprpriate Question Forum by no later than Monday noon. (the Monday before the presentation in class on Tuesday).
Once the presentation concludes, please fill out this assessment. When you first get to the page, please reload it in your browser to make sure it works properly.