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Faculty Address "Technology and Society"

Through the college's Centennial Colloquia Series, six faculty members presented thought-provoking lectures, each through their scope of expertise, all challenging our thinking about the impact of technology on the past, present and future


"Sustainable and Affordable Home Building"

Dorothy J. Gerring and Robert A. Wozniak, associate professors of architectural technology, were joined by three students involved in a national Department of Energy home-design competition. The group addressed building-science concepts, various methods of measuring power consumption, examples of faculty/student building projects throughout the college's history, and the importance of an energy audit to keep utility dollars from flying out the door.

"Google Meets Aldo Leopold: Information, Technology, and 21st-Century Environmental Ethics"

Rob Cooley, an assistant professor of anthropology and environmental science, and Mark D. Noe, a professor of English, challenged audience members to find balance between their lives and the world around them. The pair combined resonant readings from the prose of Aldo Leopold, a professional forester, ecologist and writer in the early days of the U.S. Forest Service, with images from Google Earth to lead a "virtual field trip." The tour presented stark confirmation of man's imprint on his environment: remnants of logging cribs in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and of acid mine drainage where it meets the North Branch, air pollution over China, and loss of waterfowl habitat in Maryland, among them.

"Who Am I; Who Do I Claim to Be? Protecting Identity in the 21st Century"

Lisa R. Bock, assistant professor of computer information technology, tackled issues near and dear to virtually everyone in the audience: employing the newest technological tools available to ensure identity protection – and balancing such factors as privacy and cost-effectiveness in the process. Adding to the series' focus on the historic upshot of gizmos and gadgets, Bock weighed the promise (and pitfalls) of biometrics: identifying individuals through a variety of unique personal traits, such as finger prints and iris scans.

"Technology, Power and Responsibility"

Craig A. Miller, assistant professor of history/political science, shaped his presentation around the construction of the transcontinental railroad as a thought-provoking springboard to the broader connection between choices and consequences. Cross-country rail service, he said, was “truly a technological marvel” that ushered in an era of development and helped the United States become a global economic power. But it also relocated Native Americans under a policy of “assimilate or move,” fostered financial chicanery and altered the workforce. Miller urged attendees to vigilantly weigh multiple perspectives, to logically and critically analyze the societal price of decisions, and to “accept uncomfortable truths and learn from them.”

The series also brought to campus bestselling authors Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist, virtual reality pioneer and author of "You are Not a Gadget," and Alan Lightman, a theoretical physicist, novelist and author of "Einstein's Dreams."

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