POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Political theorist Langdon Winner will discuss “The Open (Source) Society and Its Enemies: Internet Democracy vs. Global Corpocracy” on Saturday, April 17, as the keynote presentation at Vassar College’s Science, Technology, and Society Program’s 40th anniversary celebration. The lecture will begin at 5:00 pm, in Wallace Auditorium, Blodgett Hall, and is free and open to the public. This presentation is part of a weekend of activities for alumnae/i of the Science, Technology, and Society Program (STS) that will include lectures, panels, and round tables presented by STS alums and faculty.
Winner will address the enduring hope, throughout most of U.S. history, that advances in technology will serve the purposes of democracy, most recently in the case of open source software and the Internet. As Winner stated, “Will the dream of democratic renewal be realized this time around, or derailed by mechanisms of inequality and corporate dominance in national and global politics?”
Langdon Winner is the Thomas Phelan Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Well known for his commentaries on the relationship between politics and technology, he is the author of The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology (1986) and Autonomous Technology (1977). As a scholar-activist, he has been involved in movements to create an environmentally sustainable future and to resist the destructive schemes of global mega-technics.
Vassar’s Science, Technology and Society program was one of the first undergraduate multidisciplinary majors in the nation. One alumnus of the STS program who is now a commander in the U.S. Navy, Richard Dorn, Vassar class of 1982, summed up the impact of the program as:
“I would say that underlying most every one of my STS courses was a sense of ethical responsibility. As a student, I was compelled to fully and fairly investigate and evaluate technology and its relationship to man—how it influences and how it is influenced, how scientific discoveries impart changes to the application of technology, and how these applications carry moral and ethical considerations, whether society realizes them or not.” Dorn went on to state that in his work at the Pentagon, that: “I believe that STS made me globally and socially conscious and much more responsible in my decision-making, as a citizen and as a military leader, particularly in my relationship with industry and in my interactions with foreign cultures.”
Other graduates of Vassar’s STS program have gone on to careers in such diverse fields as medicine, public health, law, environmental regulation, business, and academics. Alumnae/i include policy analysts, a professional acupuncturist, a rape counselor, career military officers, city planners, and a landscape architect.
About the Science, Technology, and Society Program
In 1970 the Vassar faculty approved the creation of one of the first undergraduate multidisciplinary majors in the nation, a program tentatively called Man and the Human Community. Within a year, with participating faculty from nearly a dozen departments ranging from physics and biology to economics and sociology, the name was changed to the Multidisciplinary Program in Science, Technology, and Society. In 1974 the program described its mission as the study of “science as a social institution and its effects on the environment and on values, and the effects on scientific development of social, cultural, political, and technological forces.”
Today at Vassar, the multidisciplinary program in Science, Technology, and Society engages broadly the conversation on the intersections between science, technology, and a breadth of social, political, historic, economic, and philosophic contexts which shape and, in turn, are shaped, by science and technology. The curriculum in Vassar’s STS Program is designed to enable students to understand the central role of science and technology in contemporary society; to examine how science and technology reflect their social, political, philosophical, economic and cultural contexts; and to explore the human, ethical, and policy implications of current and emerging technologies.
For additional information, see http://sts.vassar.edu.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.