The International Space Station (ISS) is a symbol of what is possible when two nations, formerly competitors, decide to work together. Perhaps if cooperation can be achieved here, then it is possible elsewhere. The good feelings these sentiments express do not do justice to the difficulties encountered when two organizations with divergent cultures and approaches are forced to collaborate. They also sidestep the question of whether cooperation on the ISS has produced identifiable benefits to offset its enormous cost – a particularly timely question as NASA assesses plans to continue ISS operations past 2025 amid competition for funding at a time of constrained federal budgets.
At one level, the substantive goal of the class is to show how the two organizations learned to bridge operational, cultural, and language differences. However, similar problems often arise in everyday life, as corporations, political groups, individuals, and even college students have the opportunity to cooperate with and learn from others. What strategies facilitate cooperation given disagreement about means and ends? We will start with NASA and Roscosmos, but the ultimate aim is to demonstrate more general conclusions about working together given disagreement.
Catalog Information: COLL-S 104 FRESHMAN SEMINAR IN S & H