Accepted paper:

Beyond moral judgement: enhancing technology awareness of students in the social sciences and humanities


Elke Hemminger (Protestant University of Applied Sciences Bochum)
Michael Waltemathe (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Paper short abstract:

Lack of knowledge and a tendency towards moral judgement impairs students in the humanities and social sciences in their participation in the societal discourse about science and technology. A novel university teaching program based on empirical data is designed to address this issue.

Paper long abstract:

In a preliminary study on social science and humanities students enrolled in teacher training programs at two German universities, the authors found disparaging attitudes about science and innovative technology. Whereas the students' average knowledge about these topics is limited, their moral and ethical judgement is strong. These data can be interpreted as a reflection of the 'post-truth' debate, questioning the authority of science and technological progress. Addressing technology and science in university courses in the humanities and social sciences can be a challenge. An analytical approach is often hampered by tendencies towards ethical and moral judgement. The students ability to participate in a societal and academic discourse concerning technology and science is seriously impaired. Regarding the dynamics of the post-truth discussion, however, it is fundamentally important to enable the students to take part in this debate and in the inherent process of shaping future societal scenarios. The authors are currently conducting an empirical study on the 'technology awareness' of students, focussing on humanities and social science students in comparison to other fields of study. The data are providing the empirical basis for the design of a novel university teaching programme. Based on the preliminary results, university courses have already been conceptualised and tested. The paper will introduce the actual teaching program in its current form and discuss it relating to the empirical data that are so far at hand. Potential future developments in accordance to the final results of the study will also be presented.

panel W01
Teaching STS in an age of post-truth. Sharing challenges, approaches and experiences