Andrew L. Feenberg
Canada Research Chair in the Philosophy of Technology
Tier 1 - 2003-09-01
Simon Fraser University
Social Sciences and Humanities
Coming to Canada from
San Diego State University, USA
Philosophical and retrospective analysis of the relationship between technology and society.
Development of critical analysis of technology/society relationships as the basis for policy making.
A Critical Look at Technology
The ongoing promotion of technological change by both the public and private sectors is based on the faith that the introduction and spread of new technologies benefits society.
Dr. Andrew Feenberg believes that the assumptions underlying this faith must be questioned scientifically, with a critical eye towards the effect of technology on society. His research program seeks to answer the key question of whether technology helps or hinders societal progress.
The first of three streams of research he is pursuing is a philosophical one that is concerned with understanding technology as a social phenomenon. Growing out of a book examining the theories of Heidegger and Marcuse that Dr. Feenberg is writing, he will look at the origins of mass media and industrial design and their relation to the artistic avant gardes of the early 20th century.
The second stream of study involves the development of case studies that illustrate the way technology impacts society and influences societal change. In particular, Dr. Feenberg will study the interactions between public will, economic forces and technical innovation.
The third stream of his work will examine the state of on-line education and attempt to devise ways the software could be improved to deliver a better experience to users. As a co-founder of the School of Management and Strategic Studies at the Western Behavioural Sciences Institute in La Jolla, California, Dr. Feenberg helped to develop some of the earliest methods in on-line education. Since then, he has become an outspoken critic of the evolution of the technology, and has undertaken research to evaluate the software currently used and its affect on on-line education participants. His future work includes analysis of new software and determination of ways to introduce more human interaction to on-line education.
Dr. Feenberg, whose books have been widely translated, expects that his team's research will result in books, articles and an informative Web site.