INF 385T: Technology and Work

Who Should Take This Course

This course is designed for students who wish to consider information technology as a recent addition to a host of technologies that, over time, individuals have employed at work. Students should be curious about the interplay between work and technology, be willing to draw lessons from historical as well as modern-day work and technology scenarios, be capable of extensive reading, and be eager to participate in class discussions in ways that extend their own and others’ learning.


Together, we will examine the relationship between technology and work in the particular context of six cases: the moving assembly line in factories, automation and IT in plant and shop work, automation and IT in office work, diagnostic and surgical tools in medicine, communication technologies in geographically distributed work, and computational and logic tools in engineering. Independently, you will investigate technology and work in a seventh setting of your choice. In considering technologies that range from CNC machines to cardiac surgery techniques, we will refute the deterministic notion that technology shapes its own design, choice, use, and outcomes. By acknowledging human agency and the importance of context, we will develop a deeper understanding of the interplay between technology and work. Our goal is to appreciate why the study of work is essential for the design of work technologies and why an understanding of work technologies is key to designing and organizing work.