Meeting TimeWed 2-4 pm
110 South Hall
InstructorAssistant Professor Deirdre K. Mulligan (
Office HoursTuesday 12-1; Wednesday 4-5
212 South Hall

Course Description

Information technology has been integrated into an array of complex interactions between individuals and the state. Often these technological changes are put forth as inevitable progress toward modernization and as value-neutral means for acting upon policies established through the political branch of government. However, the adoption or introduction of specific technology can obscure profound policy choices and options. Obscurity can arise due to barriers to transparency created by law, such as intellectual property rights asserted to prevent the analysis of software code used in electronic voting systems, due to a lack of necessary expertise to understand the ramifications of a technological shift within the public and private sector entities focused on the relevant policy issues, or, more fundamentally, due to shifts in technology that remove or shift the assumptions on which earlier policies were developed. As a result, the agency, the public, and the political branch of government may overlook the policy-implications in the choice of a new technology. Through case studies this class will explore existing examples where discretion has been delegated to, or embedded in technology, mechanisms that have or could be used to limit and manage this delegation, and techniques for early identification of inappropriate delegations.

Assignments and Grading

Your grade is based on class participation and assignments.

Class participation accounts for 30% of your grade. It includes your oral participation in class discussion as well as participation on the class listserv and/or blog. This class is designed to hone your critical inquiry skills. You are expected to fully participate--present, actively listen, engage with your classmates and the materials, bring your own insights to the discussion, share your experience and knowledge. Please come prepared to argue, explain, revise, borrow, refine, and of course junk your ideas. Thinking out loud is encouraged. This is how one learns. The success of this class depends upon student's diligent preparation and active participation--both listening and speaking--in class.

Assignments account for the remaining 70% of your grade (17.5% for each reflection piece; 35% for the final assignment). They will be graded primarily on substance, however a minimal portion of each grade will reflect organizational clarity, grammar, and presentation style as appropriate. The assignments are staggered throughout the semester. Late assignments will be penalized: each day an assignment is late will result in a half a grade deduction. Recognizing that emergencies arise, exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.