Culture & Technology (C & T) concentration

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About Culture & Technology

Concentration liaison: Prof. Matt Ratto

Major scientific and technological advances in information technology and biotechnology have had a fundamental impact on socio-cultural practices and values, and are rapidly transforming arenas that have traditionally been the domain of cultural, religious, and human concern.  New technologies continue to influence areas such as genetically modified crops, in-vitro fertilization, cyborg implants, and genetic adjustments to the human body.  At the same time, major societal forces are playing a profound role in affecting how science and technology develop.

The new Culture & Technology (C&T) concentration, effective September 2013, brings technical, philosophical, and critical perspectives to bear on these social issues. It recognizes the demand for specialists who can identify, interpret, explain, and shape the socio-cultural impact of technologies at the micro and macro levels.  Employers increasingly appreciate the importance of understanding such developments.  Graduates of the C & T concentration will be ideally equipped to provide access to these forms of knowledge and understanding.

The C&T concentration is designed to allow students to examine how society, culture, and understanding of the human condition influence, and are influenced by, technological development.  It will provide students with the resources needed to understand, integrate, assess, and deploy multi-methodological arguments, in order to develop powerful, balanced, and integrated positions.

Affiliated with the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology (a program of the Coach House Institute),  one of the aims of the concentration is to renew Coach House's role as a space where searching minds and intense visionaries can be enlisted, giving such students a place where they may focus on socio-technical issues related to computing, information systems and services, media, and the Internet, in order to (re)think the digitally-mediated world.

Students in the C&T concentration will:

  • Develop technical, philosophical, and critical skills for the examination of the reciprocal influences of culture and technology
  • Gain an understanding of the multiple ways in which technologies reflect, influence, encourage, support, and enforce social, political, cultural, and economic forces and values
  • Develop critical skills in the design, use, assessment, and evaluation of complex information systems
  • Acquire sufficient multi-methodological skills in order to understand positions, participate in discussions, and critique arguments expressed in the vocabularies and normative standards from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, life sciences, and engineering disciplines
  • Develop the requisite conceptual, critical, and philosophical skills necessary to take a leading role in guiding social and cultural discussions of the radical and transformative possibilities that are, and increasingly will be, afforded by technological intervention in the physical bases of human life
  • Be exposed to, and trained in, intensive processes of cross-disciplinary peer review

Concentration requirements

Two core quarter courses (0.5 FCE total):

Five required half courses (2.5 FCEs):

  1. INF1501H  Culture & Technology I
  2. INF1502H  Culture & Technology II
  3. INF2243H  Critical Histories of Information and Communication Technologies 
  4. INF2331H  The Future of the Book or INF2320H Remix Culture
  5. INF2241H  Critical Making: Information Studies, Social Values, and Physical Computing

Students who enrolled in the C&T concentration prior to 2016 have the option of completing under the old set of required courses, as follows (not available to students enrolled in 2016 and after; all students must follow one set of requirements or the other, and cannot mix and match):

1. INF1501H  Culture & Technology I
2. INF1502H  Culture & Technology II
3. INF1240H  Research Methods
4. INF2010H  Reading Course (This is a student initiated course that does not appear on     the timetables.See Reading Courses for more details)
5. INF2241H  Critical Making: Information Studies, Social Values, and Physical Computing

Two year course sequence (PDF format):

Suggested elective courses (Note:  Course availability is revised each academic year. Refer to current timetable for an updated list) :


  • INF1001H  Knowledge and Information in Society
  • INF1003H  Information Systems, Services, and Design 
  • INF2124H  Surveillance and Identity
  • INF2125H  Information and Culture in a Global Context
  • INF2126H  Public Library Services to Culturally Diverse Communities
  • INF2167H  Community Informatics
  • INF2181H  Information Policy, Regulation, and Law
  • INF2142H  Surveillance and Identity
  • INF2162H  Rare Books and Manuscripts
  • INF2181H  Information Policy, Regulation, and Law
  • INF2190H  Data Analytics
  • INF2122H  Digital Preservation and Curation
  • INF2146H  Trusting Records
  • INF2159H  Analytical and Historical Bibliography
  • INF2191H  Interface Design
  • INF2225H  Digital Discourse
  • INF2240H  Political Economy and Cultural Studies of Information
  • INF2242H  Studying Information and Knowledge Practices
  • INF2243H  Critical Histories of Information and Communication Technologies
  • INF2300H  Special Topics: Biodesign, Emerging Technologies, and Social Impact
  • INF2301H  Special Topics: Digital Subcultures
  • INF2303H  Special Topics: Culture, Technology, and Foucault
  • INF2311H  Managing Audiovisual Material
  • INF2332H  Information Behaviour
  • KMD2004H  Social Issues in Information and Communications Technologies
  • MSL1350H  Museums and their Publics
  • MSL2325H  Museums and New Media Practice 
  • MSL2330H  Interpretation and Meaning-Making in Cultural Institutions 
  • MSL 2331H  Exhibitions, Interpretation, Communication
  • MSL2340H  Issues in Cultural Policy and Contemporary Culture 
  • MSL 2370H  Museums and Cultural Heritage
  • MSL 2500H  Constructing and Curating Digital Heritage