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Responsible Citizenship in a Technological Democracy

Dr. William A. Wulf, University Professor, Dept. of Computer Science University of Virginia, and President Emeritus, National Academy of Engineering gave the speech at the 2008 Engineer's Week dinner. One of the items he discussed is a seminar he presents to liberal arts freshmen titled "Responsible Citizenship in a Technological Democracy".

In this seminar, Dr. Wulf introduces public policy issues for discussion and then provides a written handout that describes a few science/engineering concepts that they need to really understand the public policy issue. In the following session, they review the material from the handout, discuss how it applies to the policy issue, and then start another public policy issue.

The Engineer's Week audience was encouraged to reach out to the community with similar concepts to help create more responsible citizens. As this is a work in progress, Dr. Wulf would like feedback from readers on the two areas mentioned below. You may contact him via e-mail with your comments and suggestions.

  1. Please provide feedback with any comments and suggestions pertaining to the course content and the handouts.
  2. Please provide feedback with any comments and suggestions about the most important Science and Engineering concepts that are NOT represented in his list of policy issues.

These are some of the discussion topics in the course with the related handouts:

Topic Reading
Electric cars, hydrogen economy, & paper cups Systems
Review electric cars, etc., as part of a system  
Electric cars, etc., and efficiency Energy
Review electric cars, etc., and thermodynamics  
Public policy issues involving risk Risk
Review risk, risk analysis and risk perception  
Public policy issues involving safety and reliability Safety, Reliability, & Testing
Review safety, reliability and testing  
Public policy issues involving the S&E methods Scientific and Engineering Methods
Review Scientific & Engineering methods  
Public policy issues involving precision and accuracy Precision vs. Accuracy
Review Precision vs accuracy  
Public Policy Issues involving data and statistics Statistics
Review Statistics  
Public policy issues involving control & feedback Control and Feedback
Review Control and feedback  
Public policy issues involving complex systems Complex Systems
Review Complex systems  


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