Dan Edelstein’s article “How Is Innovation Taught? On the Humanities and the Knowledge Economy” does raise an important reality that “In the face of limited resources, administrators and policy makers are urged to invest more in science, engineering, and technology programs (Goldin and Katz 2008); meanwhile, liberal arts colleges are on their way to becoming an endangered species (goodbye, Antioch!).” While there is much funding in the STEM fields, from personal experiences, I know having a sole STEM mindset is not innovative. There is a need for “Scientists” in the Humanities. As an environmental engineer, all of my work translate to affecting society. For example, I worked on a research project that evaluated consumer confidence reports. For those who don’t know what these reports are, they are reports that contain information on the quality and safety of tap drinking water. They are mandated by the USEPA to be delivered to water customers every year. Unfortunately, my research found that most of these reports were not well written and the clarity of message communication was poor throughout. As a result, a team of environmental engineers and “scientists” from humanities field collaborated to offer improvements to the readability and clarity of these reports. Without the training I had in my Science, Technology & Society course, it would have been difficult for me to communicate my work in a way that will benefit water customers. What is the point of the work I do in water quality and safety if I can’t effectively bridge that gap between me and society? I totally agree that,” the humanities provide students with the best opportunities for learning how to innovate.”
The article, “The Myth of the Disconnected Life,” by Forman raises many good points concerning the cons that comes with technological advances. Even though some technologies are designed to improve our quality of life and benefit society, some negative implications include disconnecting with reality and people, increasing environmental pollution, and compromising humanity.
Technology, like cellphones, certainly fits the mold of causing disconnection from reality and people. It does make our lives easier, but it has also cause us to constantly be in our phones, not paying attention to where we are walking or even driving, and not appreciating the people in front of us, especially at the dinner table.
Environmental pollution is also a major concern. With forever evolving technologies, it also comes with endless technological waste. Most aging technologies end up in landfills or shipped overseas for disposal. Additionally, the batteries used to power our devices contain toxic heavy metals and often end up polluting our environment, especially water ways during production.
What I mean about technology that compromise humanity is that many technology companies contract their production overseas where workers are paid poorly and forced to work in poor conditions. Furthermore, lots of the waste from electronics end up in underdeveloped countries where regulations are more lenient.
Thus, I totally agree with Forman’s statement, “While historical comparisons are important to contextualize our culture’s reaction to emerging technologies, there is something unique about our digital devices, especially the ones we have on us at all times like our smartphones. These technologies seem to offer a more compelling example for those who want us to disconnect from technology.” But will we be able to give up our cellphones all together? Highly doubt it.