Science, Technology, and Society:
Examining the Future Through a Science-Fiction Lens

Information Map
Course Outline
The City of Lawrence, Kansas

We have offered "Science, Technology, and Society: Examining the Future Through a Science-Fiction Lens" since 2005, and it is available for English credit (ENGL 507 for undergrads, or ENGL 690 or other numbers for grad students) or Humanities credit (HWC 510, usually for Honors). As with our other courses, students may, for a donation to the Center, request in advance to take the course not-for-credit through the Center for the Study of Science Fiction on a space-available basis.

Course Outline

This course meets for the entire Spring semester. KU faculty from several disciplines will lead the discussions, including Philip Baringer and Chris McKitterick. We will meet once again on Thursdays this year, but at a different time than usual. See this map of the University of Kansas to find your way to the classroom.

Science and tech offer countless benefits, yet they also present new challenges. In this interdisciplinary course, we read nonfiction and science fiction to explore the past, present, and possible future effects of science and technology on society and humankind. The only thing certain about our future is that it will be different than today! Led by experimental particle physicist Philip Baringer and science-fiction author Chris McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center. We read and discuss nonfiction articles, science-fiction stories, and sections of SF novels chosen to focus around a variety of themes, and occasionally view related film clips.

Readings are mostly short works of fiction and non-fiction, though we also read a few longer works. Each class period is a mix of lecture and discussion, with two or more students preparing to lead each discussion. Discussants come to class with questions on the day's topic and readings, plus bring outside readings and observations to share with the class (preferably sharing them with everyone in advance). Each week, students write a short paper that examines that week's readings and includes questions to pose to the class as well as some points to stimulate discussion. Other projects include a mid-term paper, a final research or creative project, and a group presentation.

Additional readings: Here are some other links that provide more background for our topics:

For more details, see the syllabus and other information on Blackboard.


If you are a student, you can find the syllabus via Blackboard; if you are not a student but would like to see the course design, click here to view a version of the syllabus. Note that the student version differs from this one, but we feel sharing it here might help other educators in developing similar courses.

Click here to see the promotional poster (.pdf file). (Click here to see the .doc version.)

Feel free to print and share!


For credit-seeking students, the cost is what the University charges for three credits tuition; for credit-earning non-residents, be aware that tuition is higher. KU also offers a "Visitor/Senior Citizen Waiver" of campus fees for qualified non-degree-seeking student applicants; see this page for more info.

To enroll for University of Kansas credit, do so in the usual fashion. 


University of Kansas map:

Kansas Union map: 

Lawrence map (a bus-route map, but very useful): 

The City of Lawrence, Kansas

For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is wonderful, a lively small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events and activities. The location of the University of Kansas, Lawrence is situated about 40 miles from Kansas City and 20 miles from Topeka. Summers can be hot, but classrooms and housing are air-conditioned.

Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas has a large science-fiction collection and good reference collections; museums of natural history and art; and sports, theater, and concerts. Lawrence has many excellent restaurants, shopping, and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include movies, dinner, concerts, and more.

The nearest major airport is Kansas City International, about 55 miles from Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be arranged through one of several airport shuttle services. By car, Lawrence is at the intersection of U.S. 59 and I-70 (Kansas Turnpike). The west interchange is closer to the campus. Lawrence can also be reached by Kansas Highway 10.

Find out all about Lawrence - its history, stores, museums, observatories, and SFnal activities - here.

Contact us for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your stay:
        Chris McKitterick ( or James Gunn (

updated 3/12/2017

Home | A Basic SF Library | Staff | | Educational Program | Films and Online Videos | SF News | SF Youth Program
CSSF Awards | Campbell Conference | James Gunn Essays | SF Hall of Fame | CSSF Blog | Resources | Donate