Issue No. 09 - September (1976 vol. 9)
Universities are often criticized for being too academic?too far removed from society's real problems. One reason for this remoteness is the academic preoccupation with analysis, despite the fact that the solution to many practical problems requires synthesis or invention. Another reason?and this is the one to be discussed here?is that faculties in science and engineering by and large are interested in the science of technology, and devote little or no time to teaching the economics of technology. That is, they teach fundamental principles, and explain how those principles are embodied in particular technologies; but they do little or nothing to explain the extent to which those technologies are produced, distributed, and consumed by and for society.1 For example, a physics department may teach both thermodynamics and nuclear engineering gineering; but it is unlikely to have a course which quantitatively describes trends in the sources and uses of energy and power and in the cost of power generation and distribution. Similarly, in computer science we have courses in numerical calculus, programming languages, and switching theory; but there is no plan to teach the student where computers are used, what functions they perform, or what it costs to write a program, operate a computer center, or manufacture a processor.
M. Phister, "A Proposed Course in Data Processing Economics," in Computer, vol. 9, no. , pp. 44-48, 1976.