Tech Question

Tech Critique Paper Prompt


Write a 1,000-1,250 word essay that identifies and thinks critically about a technological solution for an environmental problem of your choice: can the technological fix you identified solve the problem? Can any technological fix alone solve the problem? What might be necessary instead or in addition? How might we need to rethink what the ‘problem’ is in the first place? If you’re not sure what environmental issue to chose, I suggesting going with the one you identified in the introductory discussion at the beginning of the semester (or looking at the large list of issues/resources we compiled together), but either way, chose carefully as you will be working with the same issue for the final paper. If you are struggling to identify a ‘tech fix’ for your issue, please reach out to us graders and we’ll help!

Paper Structure

Since thinking critically about technology takes practice, we are providing a lot of structure to help you stay on the right track.


The paper should begin with an introduction that identifies the following in the first 1-2 paragraphs:

1. The environmental issue/problem and why it matters

2. The possible technological solution and why you chose it a the focus of your critique

3. Your position (thesis) in relation to the solution, generally stated in 1-2 sentences at the very end of your introduction (needs to preview the discussion that follows in the rest of the paper!)

Be sure to go back and revise your introduction once you have a full draft of the paper. Since you probably learned a lot in the process, the intro will need updating so it still matches what follows. This is a good thing!


The focus of the rest of your paper should be on discussing the promises and limitations of the specific tech solution that you identify in your introduction through engagement with course concepts/readings (more details below). Include a well-organized discussion supporting you argument for why the technological fix is/is not enough to solve the problem. For example, consider addressing SOME of the following (you don’t have space to address all of them well);


· What underlying issues might a technological fix leave unaddressed?

· What alternatives might be ignored in favoring tech fixes in this specific case (think of Zehner’s argument for reduction here!)?

· Can problems caused by human attempts to control nature and/or an Anthropocentric worldview be solved by more human control of nature (think Fleming)?

· Who or what might be left out if your issue is addressed by technology alone? How might a ‘tech fix’ perpetuate inequality? (think Shiva and climate justice)

· Does the technology you identified rely on an individualized or collective sense of responsibility (Mantiates from Week 5)?

· How might we need to consider what ‘the problem’ is in the first place (Boucher & Loring on how climate change is a social problem vs. a technological one).


The paper should end with a concluding paragraph that connects the main points from the body back to your position/thesis statement, and ideally considers some of the broader implications of your discussion.


References and Citations

At a minimum, your paper must:

1. Incorporate into the discussion and properly reference at least TWO of:


· Zehner

· Fleming

· Boucher & Loring

· Shiva

2. Include 3-7 reputable outside sources specific to your chosen environmental issue and tech fix.

3. Use in-text (parenthetical) citations where appropriate in a consistent style (like APA or MLA) AND include a list of references at the end. Please consult the  Purdue Owl (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  or the  UNT writing lab (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  if you are unsure how to cite your sources or need additional writing support.