2020 Graduate Lecture in Science, Technology and Society F1B

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Social and Human Sciences
Bektas Yakup 
Class Format
Lecture    (ZOOM)
Media-enhanced courses
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Course description and aims

(Science, Technology, and the Environment since the Mid-20th Century)
This course will evaluate major environmental problems since the mid-20th century, with a special emphasis on Japan, while tracing the growth of environmental awareness and environmentalism worldwide. It will concentrate on the relationship between environmental degradation and industrial development, and examine the threats to the environment and public health posed by big businesses. We will discuss about the debates surrounding major environmental issues that have shaped the global environmental consciousness, the environmental movement, and politics, including Minamata and other industrial pollution cases in Japan, the dangers of pesticides publicized by Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962), global warming, and nuclear energy, with a special reference to the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

The course raises students' awareness of environmental problems and their association with science and technology, economic growth, and corporate businesses; and give students opportunities to explore and evaluate these problems critically from multiple angles. It also aims to help students improve their conversational and writing skills.

Student learning outcomes

Raised awareness of environmental problems and their association with science and technology and big businesses.
Able to understand the subtleties and history of techno-environmental issues and follow public and academic debates about them.
Attitudes to respect nature.
Motivated to get involved in the protection and preservation of the natural environment.
Improved conversational and writing skills.


technology and the environment; industrial development and environmental degradation; environmentalism

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Conducted in a seminar format. Class attendance and participation in discussions are essential. Students are expected to: 1) read the assigned reading prior to the class, 2) participate in classroom discussions, 3) write short papers, and 4) attend field trips

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 The Anthropocene: an overview of science, technology, and the environment View "Endangered Planet"
Class 2 Economic growth and the environment in Japan: Minamata Read Jun Ui, "Industrial Pollution in Japan" (1992)
Class 3 Minamata and Japan's industrial pollution Read Keibo Oiwa & Masato Ogata, "Rowing the Eternal Sea: the Story of a Minamata Fisherman"(2001)
Class 4 DDT or the story of a "miracle pesticide," and "Silent Spring" Read Rachel Carson, "Silent Spring" (19664); View "Rachel Carson's Silent Spring" (1999)
Class 5 "Silent Spring," and Lynn White's thesis on "Ecological Crisis" Read Lynn White, jr., “Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155 (1967): 1203-7
Class 6 Global warming and Lovelock's Gaia theory Read James Lovelock, "The Revenge of Gaia" (2006); View Al Gore, "An Inconvenient Truth" (2006).
Class 7 Local and global implications of Fukushima nuclear disaster (optional) Excursion to the Daigo Fukuryo Maru View "Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown" (PBS, 2012); others

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


No textbooks

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Main Readings:Jun Ui (ed.), Industrial Pollution in Japan, 1992; Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962; Lynn White, jr., “Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155 (1967); Keibo Oiwa & Masato Ogata, Rowing the Eternal Sea: the Story of a Minamata Fisherman, 2001; Akio Mishima, Bitter Sea: The Human Cost of Minamata Disease (1992); Masanori Kaji, "Role of experts and public participation in pollution control: the case of itai-itai disease in Japan, " Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics, 12 (2012): 99-111; Sharon B. McGrayne, Prometheans in the Lab, 2001; James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia, 2006.
Audio-visual material include:Endangered Planet 1950-95 (1999); Rachel Carson's Silent Spring [Neil Goodwin, 1999); Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth (2006); Into Eternity (Michael Madson, 2010) ; Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown (PBS Frontline, 2012)

Assessment criteria and methods

Evaluation will be based on class participation and writing assignments (short essays)

Related courses

  • will be decided later

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)


Contact information (e-mail and phone)    Notice : Please replace from "[at]" to "@"(half-width character).

Bektas Yakup : bektas.y.aa[at]m.titech.ac.jp

Office hours

One hour after each class. Other times by appointment.

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