PUBAFRS 5600 Science, Engineering, and Public Policy

Course Description

Science and engineering underpin innovation, national security, and many other areas of public concern, including those related to Ohio State University’s Discovery Themes: (1) Energy and Environment, (2) Food Production and Security, and (3) Health and Wellness. But the contexts regarding (a) investments in science, engineering, and public policy and (b) the causes and consequences of the development of scientific knowledge and engineering innovations tend to be underappreciated by those involved. For example, on one hand, funding decisions are made by policymakers—many of whom lack technical training and an appreciation of the role of government in these arenas—and, on the other hand, scientists and engineers often develop knowledge and innovations as a result of, and have relevance to, public policy. Scientists and engineers can be empowered by understanding the process of investment, support for research, and the broader influence of their work. Similarly, policy-makers can benefit from understanding how science and engineering unfolds and how to use scientific and technical information for decision-making on matters of national and international importance. This course is designed to serve both perspectives—those making policy for science and engineering and those using science and engineering to inform policy—with a survey of policy, processes, and contexts for science, engineering, and innovation in the United States.

The class will present an overview of (a) the history of the interactions between science, engineering, and public policy in the United States and in the context of global concerns (e.g. climate change, competitiveness); (b) how various the federal government, universities, and corporations conduct and fund science and engineering; (c) how public sector interests and processes influence, and are influenced by, science, engineering, and public policy; and (d) policy analytic approaches for science and engineering. Case studies devoted to the science, engineering, and policy of the University’s Discovery Themes will help students apply policy analysis and developments in science and engineering to understand the relevance to real-world needs and policies.

Class discussion is an essentioal component of this course and is a In the past we have had a guest lectures from a variety of people, including Prof. Bharat Bhushan (a former ASME Congressional Fellow), Mark Reichanadter (former Chief Operating Officer of Stanford Linear Acelerator Center National Accelerator Laboratory), David Williams (Dean of the College of Engineering) and individuals from Virgin Galactica, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and elsewhere.

Class Objectives

Through this course, you will:

  • Examine the processes and contexts related to science, engineering, and innovation and understand how they reflect values, goals, and interests
  • Synthesize strategies for policy analysis and evaluate a real-world topic related to science and engineering using these strategies
  • Develop the capability to identify the relevance of advances in scientific knowledge and engineering developments to broader public policy issues
  • Analyze cases that involve the interactions between science, engineering, policy, public choice, risk, and consequences in fields related to Ohio State University’s Discovery Themes and other current

This course prepares engineering students to attain the following Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) educational objectives:

(a) an ability to apply science and engineering knowledge;
(c) an ability to operate within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, and sustainability;
(d) an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams;
(f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility;
(g) an ability to communicate effectively;
(h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context;
(i) a recognition of the need for, and ability to engage in, lifelong learning; and
(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues.

This course may be counted as a technical elective in Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering, and in Mechanical Engineering, and is one of the select core courses in the Environmental Science Graduate Program. The course also fulfills the Global Option in the College of Engineering and is one of the core courses in the undergraduate minor in Science, Engineering, and Public Policy.