The course, titled "Nanotechnology: Content and Context," will be offered jointly by the departments of chemistry and anthropology this fall. The grant, awarded under NSF's Nanotechnology in Undergraduate Education program, allows Rice to join a small but growing number of schools offering undergraduate nanotech classes aimed at preparing students for a future in which nanotech is an integral part of the technology landscape.
"What's innovative about the Rice approach is the combination of technical content with social context," said Kristen Kulinowski, executive director for education and public policy at CBEN, a faculty fellow in the department of chemistry and principal investigator on the grant. "As students are introduced to the science and engineering aspects of nanotechnology, they will be considering the ways that new technologies like nanotech are funded by, introduced into and ultimately impact on society."
After an introductory segment that looks at nanotechnology from the perspective of the futures it may enable, the course is organized around four technical theme areas that cover the following aspects of nanotechnology: (1) scale, measurement, and manufacture; (2) machines and money; (3) life and how to change it; (4) risk and the environment.