INST 154
Apollo at 50
Fall 2021

Catalog Description

In May 1961, President Kennedy reached into the 21st century and pulled a decade back into the 1960s. Just over eight years later, Neil Armstrong became the first of twelve people to walk on the Moon. This was one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of all time, and a transcendent human experience. This course will draw on both primary and secondary sources to explore the social, political, financial, scientific, engineering, operational and human aspects of the Apollo program that came together to make the Moon landings possible and it will invite students to reflect on the limitations of the Apollo approach that leave us still grasping for solutions to many other complex societal problems.



The class will meet in person Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 6:15 PM in ESJ 0215. Each class will begin with a live presentation by the instructor (or occasionally by a guest speaker), followed by discussion between students in small groups, and then by a mix of additional presentation and interactive full-class discussion led by the instructor.

The small group discussions will occur in groups of 6 to give students an opportunity to engage with each other and with members of the instructional staff to discuss specific aspects of the topic for that session, drawing on material they have read or viewed in preparation for that session and on the instructor's initial presentation.

In the final session of the semester, students will meet with each other, and with members of the instructional staff, to discuss drafts of their term papers that they exchanged the previous week. The course is designed so that students can complete all course activities (preparation for each session, participation in sessions, and assigned projects and papers) in 8 hours per week; students should plan their schedules to have that much time available.


There are three major assignments: One reading (e.g., a book chapter) must be completed in advance of each session (it will take an hour, and yes, there is a quiz!). Class participation is graded. There is no final exam.

An overview of the course is available in the draft schedule.

Questions can be sent to the instructor, Doug Oard, at

Doug Oard
Last modified: Sun May 30 14:03:52 2021