This is a free online course offered by the Saylor Foundation.
'This course provides an introduction to the history of technology for the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) major. The course surveys major technological developments from ancient to modern times with particular attention to social, political, and cultural contexts in Europe and the United States. You will also think critically about the theory of technological determinism, the ways in which technology has defined “progress” and “civilization”, and the major ethical considerations surrounding today’s technological decisions.
This course begins with discussions of the promotion of technology in centralized states of the ancient and medieval worlds: the Roman Empire, Song and Ming China, and the Islamic Abbasid Empire. After a period of relative decline, the states of Western Europe centralized and flourished once again, having benefited from the westward transmission of key ideas and technologies from the East.
The focus of the course then shifts to the West, to the technologies of the Renaissance in Italy, industrialization, imperialism, and World War I. Unbounded faith in technology, which was characteristic of the 19th century, suffered a severe blow after two industrial world wars. Today, many nations that are interested in technological solutions to social, medical, and military problems also value a healthy environment and respect human and civil rights.'