COM 498/STS 490: Governing Risky Technologies
T/Th 10:15-11:30 AM
William Kinsella (email@example.com)
The 2010 Gulf oil spill, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill, and the current controversy over chemical contamination in the Cape Fear River are reminders of the risks that accompany contemporary technologies. Emerging technologies such as hydraulic fracking and synthetic biology raise concerns about potential future problems. Airline, automobile, and rail transportation pose ongoing risks requiring constant attention. Managing these and other risky technologies requires a combination of technical knowledge, effective organizational and institutional systems, and public engagement to decide what risks are acceptable and how to avoid unacceptable failures. This course looks at theories of risk and safety, case studies of technological successes and failures, and broader questions of regulation and governance in a world of risky technologies.