In this seminar, students will examine how technological developments have altered the environment and our experience of it. How have
environmental contingencies shaped the design of technological systems? How have technologies, in turn, generated novel ways of conceptualizing the planet and our place in the universe, and how have they influenced our treatment of the environment? We will analyze cases where technological change has arguably damaged the environment as well as instances where technologies have provided solutions to environmental challenges. Students will be asked to engage with a number of scholarly conversations around nature as a historical actor and agent, the meaning of natural and artificial, and historical mythologies of both technological progress and technology's intrinsic hostility to the environment. Readings will include excerpts from the work of Patrick Geddes and Carl Sagan as well as Richard White’s The Organic Machine, Kate Brown’s Plutopia, and Michael Bess’s The Light Green Society.