Summer Reading List 2014

Welcome to Cambridge!

Summer may be over, but it seems fitting to begin the academic year with our summer reading list since that is meant to provide the most general overview and entry point to the programme and to thinking about the interactions between technology, business and government.  Every year we have an excellent discussion when students first arrive in Cambridge, but I have always thought it a bit of a shame that we don’t do more with the insights that students will have gained from the readings.  The reading list, though updated on an annual basis, has not truly been a living document that incorporates the feedback from students past and present and so this is one small effort to use our blog to correct that and improve the way we engage and develop our course materials. Last year, I tried to start this just a little too late since the blog was brand new and had some teething pains, but hopefully we can make a proper effort to reflect the insights you have gained and to begin a (virtual) conversation on the subject.

As a goal for your first week in Cambridge, please try to expand on our discussion and take a few moments to add your own comments or to review at least a book or two that you found especially useful, challenging, and/or insightful (or maybe you have found some dull, frustrating or even wrong!). Feel free to either expand on what you mentioned in class or discuss one of the readings you did not have a chance to discuss in class.

In sending out the initial list, I have tried not to influence your views in the first place, but must admit that some of the readings are not always there because I agree with every word on every page or even with the thesis being put forward, but because they challenge the reader and offer an opportunity to reflect, revisit or change views on a new or old subject. Many of you will have come across readings that you feel particularly relevant or that should have been on the list.  If so, please feel free to add your preferences.

Summer Reading List 2014 for the MPhil in Technology Policy

The list is intended to be somewhat intimidating.  One of the main goals of this year is to learn to process a huge of information quickly.  There is no priority offered and books are simply listed alphabetical by title. We hope that at least two or three of these books might attract your interest and that you will read them before coming to Cambridge.  If you can read more, then you will benefit even more from the programme. Several of the books listed are third party recommendations, for which we are most grateful. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to offer a taster of some of the issues that we will discuss over the course of the next year and reflect the diversity of the challenging topics that you will confront.  We do not endorse every book but feel that even where we disagree, the arguments are important and worthy of consideration.  Some are classics and others more recent offerings that address the latest technologies and controversies.  The list includes some books that are science for policy or policy for science, others that are industrial policy or management of technology and still others take an even broader sweep through history and politics drawing on disciplines from psychology to economics.  The authors include economists (e.g., Hirschman and Baumol), lawyers (Sunstein and Posner), historians (Darwin and Landes), journalists (Goldacre and Marsh), Cambridge colleagues (Taylor and Coates) and even a few scientists and engineers (Dawkins and Rees) as well as some modern and ancient classics (Kuhn, Snow, Sun Tzu). There are some themes that emerge (crises, risks and decision making, understanding history and context, business-government relations, the interaction between science and society, technological foresight).  As a rule they are well written (not necessarily the norm for technology policy and management books) and a few even provide some useful guidance on how to write (which will come in handy, since by the time you graduate you will submit coursework or reports totaling some 50,000 words by the count of one alum!).