STV205 Cybernetics and Society

1 Introduction

1.1 Calendar description

Cybernetics and Society

Cybernetics is the study of the interfaces between humans and machines. This course will present an overview of cybernetics from automation and robotics to prosthetics and wearable computing. The roles of men and women in a post-human era will be discussed along with related themes dealing with gender, cyberspace, politics and popular culture.

Credit wight: 0.5

Pre-requisite: None

1.2 Location and Time

Lectures: RCH 305, Thursday 7-9pm
Tutorials: RCH 209 & 305, Thursday 9-10pm

1.3 Instructor

Dr. Scott Campbell
E3 3174, Ext. 35635

Office Hours: Tuesday 1-3

1.4 Teaching Assistant

Karl Griffiths-Fulton

Office Hours: Wednesday 3-4 (E3 rm: 3174)

2 Course Details

2.1 Website

Use UW-ACE for access to lecture slides, assignment drop boxes, the readings, the discussion forum, and other resources.

2.2 Policies

Attendance will be recorded in the tutorials and will be considered part of your participation grade. It is your responsibility to contact the instructor or your TA ahead of time if you are sick.

Late assignments will be penalized 1% from your final overall grade per 24 hour period, to a maximum of the assignment value. Consideration may be granted if you contact the instructor before the due date.

Plagiarism, cheating, copying and other forms of intellectual dishonesty will be punished to the fullest extent of the appropriate University of Waterloo Student Academic Discipline Policies (see The penalties can be quite severe and ignorance is rarely a good excuse.

Exceptions will require documentation and, if wherever possible, considerable warning.

Regrading of assignments will require written justification; the entire assignment or test will be regraded.

Excessive Disruptions that affect other students will not be tolerated. I discourage the use of laptop computers unless you are taking notes.

Feedback Anonymous course feedback is available at all times through UW-ACE.

2.3 Readings

All readings will be provided on UW-ACE, under Lessons, in the Readings folder. A reading list will be provided there, with a schedule and questions to study. Approximately 25% of the test questions will be derived from the readings.

2.4 Tutorials

Part of the goal for this course is for you to share your responses to the lecture and reading material and learn from other students. To that end, the class will be divided into tutorial sections of approximately 20 students. Tutorials are at 9pm, and each section will ideally meet four times as indicated on the schedule. Two of the sections will be led by the instructor, the other two by the TA.

The goal of the tutorials is to discuss student questions and concerns and to review important lecture and reading material and conversational setting.

2.5 Assignments

All documents submitted (electronic and hardcopy) must be 12-point, Times Roman font, 1" margins, and double-spaced. A title page is not necessary, but a title at the top of the page is. Include your name, UWID, and page number on every page. References must be complete (including page numbers!) and must conform to a known citation style (MLA, Chicago, etc.).

Question and Answers (Q&A), 13 February and 3 April, 5% each Submit a question and answer (no more than 300 words) that you feel would be appropriate for the midterm the next day.

The goal is to help you study for the mid-terms. To that end, your submission will be visible on UW-ACE for other STV205 students to read and study from. Additionally, at least one Q&A, as determined by the instructor, will be included on the mid-term.

Late submissions will be graded, with the normal penalty, but for obvious reasons cannot be considered for inclusion on the tests.

Submit your Q&A to UW-ACE by 1pm on the due date. No hardcopy is required.

Response Papers, 31 January and 13 March, 5% each There will be two short response papers, two or fewer pages long, in which you will be asked to reflect and to write an analytical response to an issue discussed in class, accompanied by a specific reading to focus on. Details will be posted to UW-ACE.

The goal is to practice your writing skills and focus on your ability to express yourself clearly. To that end, for this assignment you must paraphrase instead of quote (if necessary), although footnotes/endnotes are required, if necessary.

Further details and the readings will be posted to UW-ACE.

Submit an electronic copy to ACE by 6pm on the due date and a hardcopy in class.

2.6 Project

This is a two part project, totalling 20%. Each student will choose a single question to investigate from a list provided on UW-ACE.

Annotated bibliography, 28 February, 5% Search for sources related to your question. Choose from books, newspapers, or journals, non-fiction or fiction. Create an annotated bibliography of at least five references that you feel are most relevant in addressing your chosen question.

Here are two excellent guides to annotated bibliographies.

Each annotation must not exceed 50 words, so you must be concise and insightful, descriptive and critical, short and sweet.

There are three restrictions: no more than two of your choices can be of the same type, at least three of your sources must exist in a published physical form, and no Wikipedia.

Submit an electronic copy to ACE by 6pm on the due date. In class, you must submit a hardcopy and a photocopy of the first page of each item in your bibliography.

Position Paper, 27 March, 15%

Write a 1200-1500 word position paper outlining your position with respect to the issue raised in your chosen question. Be analytical and convincing -- no fence sitting.

An excellent guide to writing positions papers can be found here:

This is a formal essay: include notes, a full bibliography, and write in a formal style.

Submit an electronic copy to ACE by 6pm and a hardcopy in class.

2.7 Other Grading

Note: Final grades will be rounded by Quest using a round-to-even method.

Two mid-terms, 14 February and 3 April, 25% each There will be two in-class mid-term tests, worth 25% each. Each will be two hours, a mix of short answer and short essays, closed book, and non-accumulative. More details will be available in class as we near each test.

Participation, 10% Your tutorial participation and tutorial attendance will be assessed. That is, you are expected to show up and contribute on a regular basis by doing the assigned readings ahead of time, preparing notes, and actively taking part in the discussions.

2.8 Writing Assistance

The English Language Proficiency Program also offers help for students who need extra assistance. See UW Counselling services offers series of Writing Workshops every fall. See

2.9 Schedule

DateEvent or DeadlineTutorial Section
Jan. 10Welcome
Jan. 14First survey results due
Jan. 171,2
Jan. 241,2
Jan. 31Response paper 1 due1,2
Feb. 71,2
Feb. 13Q&A 1 due
Feb. 14Mid-term 1
Feb. 18-22Reading Week
Feb. 28Annotated bibliography due3,4
March 63,4
March 13Response paper 2 due3,4
March 203,4
March 27Position paper due
April 2Q&A 2 due
April 3Mid-Term 2

Author: Scott Campbell <>

Date: 2008/01/10 03:30:38 PM