Course Syllabus for “Spaceflight and Society: Exploring the History of the Final Frontier”


Beginning on August 31 I started teaching as an adjunct instructor at the Johns Hopkins University. The course is “Spaceflight and Society: Exploring the History of the Final Frontier.” Only one class meeting thus far, but it has been great fun. I am posting the syllabus before to see where I am coming from with the this class. There are a lot of readings, and I believe these are some of the best available on their individual subjects, but if you have suggestions for alternatives I’d very much like to hear from you.

Spaceflight and Society: Exploring the History of the Final Frontier

BASIC INFORMATION:

  • Class meets Wednesdays, 1:30-3:50 p.m.; this means: 140 minutes (break will be included)
  • JHU classes start August 29th, so our first class will be Aug. 31st
  • The only holiday off will be Wednesday, November 23
  • November 30th is the last day of class
  • This means: 13 class sessions
  • Students will then have a week off
  • December 7-16 are final examination days

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course explores the history of spaceflight, emphasizing its civil component, but also including national security and commercial activities, and the interactions among all components of spaceflight around the world. It represents an examination of the origins, evolution, current status, and future prospects of U.S. space policies and programs. It will cover civilian, military, and national security space programs and the space activities of the private sector, and the interactions among these four sectors of space activity. This examination will be cast in the context of the space activities of other countries, and of international cooperation and competition in space. The goal of the course is to give the student an exposure to the debates and decisions that have shaped U.S. efforts in space to date, and to the policy issues that must be addressed in order to determine the future goals, content, pace, and organization of U.S. space activities, both public and private. 

Read this syllabus and all other handouts carefully. They are your guide for this course, and they spell out the work you have to do.

This course meets every Wednesday, 1:30-3:50 p.m.; we will plan on one break in the middle of this time slot

GRADING:

Grades will be calculated according to the following scores:

 97-100 = A+

94-96 = A

90-93 = A-

87-89 = B+

84-86 = B

80-83 = B-

77-79 = C+

74-76 = C

70-73 = C-

67-69 = D+

64-66 = D

60-63 = D+

   0-59 = F

REQUIREMENTS:

There will be two literature review essays. In addition, we will hold periodic discussions in which your participation is required. The formula for your grade will be as follows: 

45% 1st literature review essay + 45% 2d literature review essay + 10% (class discussion) = 100%

10%: Attendance and participation will be based on attendance and participation in sections. We will take attendance at each session. In addition, each week we will ask students which readings they plan on undertaking for the next week. We will take action to ensure that each reading is covered by some part of the class and the discussion we will call on students to summarize and discuss these articles.

90% Literature Review Essays: There will be two review essays of literature assigned in class. Each review will consist of not less than 1,200 nor more than 2,000 words, and include a discussion of the assigned readings that you undertook in the sessions each week. Each essay must state the key issues raised in the readings, comparing them one to another, and synthesizing how and why they make a contribution to understanding the subject. The readings reviewed will be among those recommended in major sections of the course. These review essays will be completed in 12-point Times and be double-spaced with 1.0 inch margins, page-numbering, and in-paragraph citations. The student’s name and contact information must be included at the beginning of the essay. Each essay is worth 45 points. 

Late Review Essays: Review essays turned in after the due date will be downgraded one letter grade per week that it is not submitted. Papers more than two weeks late will not be graded and the student will no credit for this work. Please be advised that only in the direst of situations an “incomplete” may be assigned; as I will be on campus only for the fall semester it will require an exceptional rationale to warrant an incomplete.

RULES FOR LECTURES/PLENARIES:

There will be no electronic devices used in lectures, except for laptops, on which you are allowed to take notes. Laptops are widely misused in lectures and should you be caught using one in any other way than to take notes, your use privileges will be rescinded.

Part of the educational experience is to develop your ability to listen to lectures and to extract the important ideas through note-taking. This is an important skill that you need to develop not only now but also for your future career. As a result, only the outlines of the key concepts and discussion questions will be available in the study guide on the instructor’s web site. Part of your grade will be based on your ability to listen and organize oral material into coherent ideas. People who are good at developing this skill will have a head start in their future careers. 

If you miss a lecture, you may ask for a copy of the notes from other students in the class. The notes may not be posted on a web site, made available for file sharing, or distributed in any medium (print or electronic). The only exception is to provide a print copy to one or two students who have been absent from class, unless you first have approval from the instructor. The content of the lectures are the intellectual property of the instructor, and they are not for public distribution. If you loan your notes to someone else, you should indicate who you let use the notes.

ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:

Student-teacher relationships are built on trust. Students must trust that teachers have made appropriate decisions about the structure and content of a course, and teachers must trust that the assignments students turn in are their own. Acts that violate this trust undermine the educational enterprise. They contradict our very reason for academic activity, and students should note that penalties for dishonesty, in particular concerning plagiarism, can be quite harsh. 

There are several types of academic dishonesty that you should be aware of for this course:

  1. Copying or cheating in any way will result in an F in the course.
  2. Copying another source in a writing assignment, such as an article or another student’s assignment, without using quotation marks and citing the reference is unacceptable. If the plagiarism is substantial (more than one sentence), you will lose one letter grade in the course for the first instance. You may receive an F in the course for additional instances.
  3. Copying minor quotations of a phrase or half sentence or using the ideas of others without attribution. This is known as “patchwork plagiarism” and “theft of ideas.” We tend to treat this problem with a warning at the beginning, but if it continues, you will lose one letter grade in the final grade for the course for each instance. When in doubt, add a footnote and a reference.
  4. Posting yours or others’ lectures notes from the plenary lectures on a web site or making them more generally available in any way (emailing, file sharing, print files, etc.), or making unauthorized recordings in any medium of the plenary lectures. You will receive an F in the course for this form of academic dishonesty, and instances that occur after the course is over will face a retrospective change of grade to an F.

COURSE READINGS:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010 second edition). Be sure to get this second edition, not the 1997 first edition.
  • An FTP site has been set up with all of the readings other than Space and the American Imagination.  

CLASS SCHEDULE AND ASSIGNMENTS: 

August 31, 2011: Session 1               Why Go Into Space?

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 11-59.

Choose One of the Following:

  • William Sims Bainbridge, “Motivations for Space Exploration,” Futures
    41, Issue 8 (October 2009): 514-22.
  • Daniel F. Lester and Michael Robinson, “Visions of Exploration,” Space Policy 25 (November 2009): 236-43.
  • John M. Logsdon, “A Sustainable Rationale for Human Spaceflight,” Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2004, pp. 31-34.
  • Asif A. Siddiqi, “Spaceflight in the National Imagination,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference, (NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 17-35.

September 7, 2011: Session 2           Origins of the Space Age

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 60-92.

Choose One of the Following:

  • Alexander C.T. Geppert, “Flights of Fancy: Outer Space and the European Imagination, 1923–1969,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (NASA-SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 585-99.
  • J.D. Hunley, “The Enigma of Robert Goddard,” Technology and Culture 36 (April 1995): 327-50.
  • J.R. McNeill, “Gigantic Follies? Human Exploration and the Space Age in Long-term Historical Perspective,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (NASA-SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 3-16.
  • Asif A. Siddiqi, “The Rockets’ Red Glare: Technology, Conflict, and Terror in the Soviet Union,” Technology and Culture 44 (July 2003): 470-501

September 14, 2011: Session 3         National Security Space and its Discontents 

Required Readings:

  • Roger D. Launius, “National Security, Space, and the Course of Recent U.S.History,” in Paul G. Gillespie and Grant T. Weller, eds., Harnessing the Heavens: National Defense Through Space. Chicago, IL: Imprint Publications, 2008), pp. 5-23.

Choose One of the Following:

  • Dwayne A. Day, “Cover Stories and Hidden Agendas: Early American Space and National Security Policy,” in Roger D. Launius, John M. Logsdon, and Robert W. Smith, Reconsidering Sputnik: Forty Years Since the Soviet Satellite (2000), pp. 161-195.
  • Peter L. Hays, “NASA and the Department of Defense: Enduring Themes in Three Key Areas,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, eds., Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight  (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006);, pp. 199-238.
  • Matthew Mowthorpe, “U.S. Military Space Policy, 1945–92,” Space Policy 18 (2002): 25-36.
  • Asif A. Siddiqi, “Soviet Space Power during the Cold War,” in Paul G. Gillespie and Grant T. Weller, eds., Harnessing the Heavens: National Defense Through Space (Chicago, IL: Imprint Publications, 2008) pp. 135-50.

 September 21, 2011: Session 4         Spaceflight and American Culture

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 308-24. 

Choose One of the Following:

  • Matthew H. Hersch, “High Fashion: The Women’s Undergarment Industry and the Foundations of American Spaceflight,” Fashion Theory 13, no. 3 (2009): 345-70.
  • Roger D. Launius, “Public Opinion Polls and Perceptions of U.S. Human Spaceflight.” Space Policy 19 (August 2003): 163-75.
  • Peter Redfield, “Beneath a Modern Sky: Space Technology and Its Place on the Ground,” Science, Technology & Human Values 21 (Summer 1996): 251-74.
  • Daniel Sage, “Giant Leaps and Forgotten Steps: NASA and the Performance of Gender,” Sociological Review 57 (2009): 146-63.

September 28, 2011: Session 5         The Evolution of Space Science 

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 120-53.

Choose One of the Following:

  • W. Henry Lambright, NASA and the Environment: The Case of Ozone Depletion, Monograph in Aerospace History, No. 38 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2005-4538, 2006).
  •  Arturo Russo, “Europe’s Path to Mars: The European Space Agency’s Mars Express Mission,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 41 (Spring 2011): 123-78.
  • Robert W. Smith and W. Patrick McCray, “Beyond the Hubble Space Telescope: Early Development of the Next Generation Space Telescope,” in H.A. Thronson, et al., eds., Astrophysics in the Next Decade: The James Webb Space Telescope and Concurrent Facilities (New York: Spring Science, 2009), pp. 31-50.
  • David J. Stevenson, “Planetary Science: A Space Odyssey,” Science 287 (February 11, 2000): 997-99, 1001-03, 1005.

October 5, 2011: Session 6                The Race to the Moon

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 93-119. 

Choose One of the Following:

  • Andrew Chaikin, “Live from the Moon: The Societal Impact of Apollo,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, eds., Societal Impact of Spaceflight (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2007-4801, 2007), pp. 53-66.
  • W.D. Kay, “Problem Definitions and Policy Contradictions: John F. Kennedy and the ‘Space Race’,” Policy Studies Journal 31 (March 2003): 53-72.
  • Roger D. Launius, “Perceptions of Apollo: Myth, Nostalgia, Memory or all of the Above?” Space Policy 21 (May 2005): 129-39.
  • David A. Mindell, “Human and Machine in the History of Spaceflight,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, ed., Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006), pp. 141-62.

October 12, 2011: Session 7              What Do You Do for an Encore?

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 154-80.

Choose One of the Following:

  • John M. Logsdon, “The Space Shuttle Program: A Policy Failure?” Science 232, (May 30, 1986): 1099-1105.
  • Howard E. McCurdy, “Organization Decline: NASA and the Life Cycle of Bureaus,” Public Administration Review 51 (July-August 1991): 308-15.
  • Hugh R. Slotten, “Satellite Communications, Globalization, and the Cold War,” Technology and Culture 43 (April 2002): 315-50.
  • Brian Woods, “A Political History of NASA’s Space Shuttle: The Development Years, 1972–1982,” Sociological Review 57 (2009): 25-46.

*** First Review Essay Due ***

October 19, 2011: Session 8              The Space Shuttle – Creature of Compromise

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 207-35.

Choose One of the Following:

  • Andrew J. Butrica, “The ‘Right’ Stuff: The Reagan Revolution and the U.S. Space Program,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 121-34.
  • Amy Foster, “Coping with Celebrity: Women as Astronauts and Heroes,” in Paul G. Gillespie and Grant T. Weller, eds., Harnessing the Heavens: National Defense Through Space. Chicago, IL: Imprint Publications, 2008), pp. 165-75.
  • Joseph Lorenzo Hall, “Columbia and Challenger: Organizational Failure at NASA,” Space Policy 19 (November 2003): 239-47.
  • Diane Vaughan, “Changing NASA: The Challenges of Organizational System Failures,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, ed., Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006), pp. 349-75.

 October 26, 2011: Session 9                          The Challenge of the Space Station

 Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, pp. 181-206.

 Choose One of the Following:

  • Sylvia D. Fries, “2001 to 1984: Political Environment and the Design of NASA’s Space Station System,” Technology and Culture 29 (July 1988): 568-93.
  • W. Henry Lambright, “Leadership and Large-Scale Technology: The Case of the International Space Station,” Space Policy 21 (August 2005): 195-203.
  • Roger D. Launius, “Space Stations for the United States: An Idea Whose Time Has Come—And Gone?” Acta Astronautica 62 (May-June 2008): 539–55.
  • John J. Madison and Howard E. McCurdy, “Spending Without Results: Lessons from the Space Station Program,” Space Policy 15 (November 1999): 213-21.

 November 2, 2011: Session 10                      Spaceflight in the International Context

Required Readings:

  • John M. Logsdon, “The Development of International Space Cooperation,” in John M. Logsdon, et al., eds., Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the Evolution of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Volume II (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4407, 1996), pp. 1-57. 

Choose One of the Following:

  • James R. Hansen, “The Great Leap Upward: China’s Human Spaceflight Program and Chinese National Identity,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 109-20.
  • John Krige, “Technology, Foreign Policy and International Collaboration in Space,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, eds., Critical Issues in History of Spaceflight (Washington DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006), pp. 239-60.
  • Roger D. Launius, “United States Space Cooperation and Competition: Historical Reflections,” Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics & Policy 7/2 (2009): 89-100.
  • Asif A. Siddiqi, “Competing Technologies, National(ist) Narratives, and Universal Claims: Toward a Global History of Space Exploration,” Technology and Culture 51 (April 2010): 425-43.

 November 9, 2011: Session 11                      Things Recent and (con)Temporary

Required Readings:

  • Howard E. McCurdy, Space and the American Imagination, 268-307. 

Choose One of the Following:

  • Andrew J. Butrica, “Reusable Launch Vehicles or Expendable Launch Vehicles? A Perennial Debate,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, eds., Critical Issues in History of Spaceflight (Washington DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006), pp. 302-41.
  • Roger D. Launius and Dennis R. Jenkins, “Is It Finally Time for Space Tourism?” Astropolitics: The International Journal of Space Politics and Policy 4 (Winter 2006): 253-80.
  • Ajey Lele, “An Asian Moon Race?” Space Policy 26 (2010) 222-28.
  • Eligar Sadeh, “Space Policy Challenges Facing the Barack Obama Administration,” Space Policy 25 (May 2009): 109-16.

November 16, 2011: Session 12                    Spaceflight and Memory

Required Readings:

  • Roger D. Launius, “American Spaceflight History’s Master Narrative and the Meaning of Memory,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 353-85. 

Choose One of the Following:

  • Slava Gerovitch, “Creating Memories: Myth, Identity, and Culture in the Russian Space Age,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 204-36.
  • Gretchen Heefner, “Missiles and Memory: Dismantling South Dakota’s Cold War,” Western Historical Quarterly 38 (Summer 2007): 181-203.
  • Monique Laney, “‘Operation Paperclip’ in Huntsville, Alabama,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 89-107.
  • Michael J. Neufeld, “Creating a Memory of the German Rocket Program for the Cold War,” in Steven J. Dick, ed., Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference (Washington, DC: NASA SP-2008-4703, 2008), pp. 71-87.

 November 30, 2011: Session 13        Material Culture and Controversy

 Required Readings:

  • Roger D. Launius, “Abandoned in Place: Interpreting the U.S. Material Culture of the Moon Race,” The Public Historian 31 (August 2009): 9–38.

 Choose One of the Following:

  • Denis Cosgrove, “Contested Global Visions: One-World, Whole-Earth, and the Apollo Space Photographs,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 84 (June 1994): 270-94.
  • David A. DeVorkin, “Space Artifacts: Are They Historical Evidence?” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, eds., Critical Issues in History of Spaceflight (Washington DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006), pp. 574-600.
  • Alice Gorman and Beth O’Leary, “An Ideological Vacuum: The Cold War in Outer Space,” in John Schofield and Wayne Cocroft, eds., A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War (Tucson, AZ: Left Coast Press, 2007), pp. 73-92.
  • Margaret A. Weitekamp, “Critical Theory as a Toolbox: Suggestions for Space History’s Relationship to the History Subdisciplines,” in Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius, eds., Critical Issues in History of Spaceflight (Washington DC: NASA SP-2006-4702, 2006), pp. 549-72.

 *** Second Review Essay Due at End of Reading Period, December 6 ***

This entry was posted in Apollo, Applications Satellites, Cold War Competition, Earth Science, History, International Space Station, Lunar Exploration, Personal, Politics, Science, Space, Space Shuttle and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Course Syllabus for “Spaceflight and Society: Exploring the History of the Final Frontier”

  1. Chuck Divine says:

    This looks like a top notch course. I also like your restrictions on electronic note taking and sharing. Today it is too easy to write something without really understanding it. Electronic copying helps make that possible. Too many people also present as their own another person’s work. Thank you for doing this. I do hope you will present this course in the future. I suspect quite a few people in the space field would benefit from it.

  2. John P. Jones says:

    I was one of the first professors in my department to make use of PowerPoint and digital projectors as an integral part of my lectures. Big mistake. The students tended to watch rather than participate (take notes) in the classroom experience. I even posted stuff for them to view and download. They neither viewed nor downloaded, and were entirely amazed when I told them I knew who went online, when they went online and how long they spent viewing the material. I went back to chalk-talk, and used PowerPoint lecture’s end to provide illustrations of what I had covered in class. No more material that they could download; their test scores immediately improved, although student evaluation of the professor suffered. Guess what concerned my administrators.

  3. mike shupp says:

    Perhaps you could post some of the student essays, or links to them? It’s worthy attention, and a start on publications for the few who go down the academic route. Also, it’d be of interest to see what the young’uns are thinking these days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s