The Department of Science, Technology, and Society offers coursework and programs that bridge the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering to provide a better understanding of the ways in which these fields are mutually interacting forces in our world. The department teaches how to analyze the socio-cultural, historical, political, economic, environmental, ethical, scientific, and/or technological factors that impact the ways in which we live, as well as how these forces impact one other. We are motivated by the belief that understanding science and technology, past and present, is both socially important and intellectually challenging.
Science, Technology, and Society courses
minors: science, technology, and society; and environmental studies
immersions: science, technology, and society; and environmental studies
Essay co-written by Kristoffer Whitney, associate professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, and Jolie Crunelle, science, technology, and public policy master's student, published by The Conversation.
Natali Valdez, assistant professor at Purdue University and Presidential Fellow at Yale University, will visit RIT to share her research on social and political factors surrounding maternal medical policy as the featured speaker for the 2023 Eugene H. Fram Signature Lecture in Critical Thinking.
The environmental studies immersion is an examination of the basic environmental problems we face, how environmental resource depletion and energy issues are related, and what kind of environmental ethics and/or values we have today and have had in the past. The immersion also explores the economic, legislative, and regulatory framework within which most environmental decisions are made. Since most technological areas are associated with significant environmental implications, it is essential that students have an understanding of and a well-thought-out value orientation about such environmental consequences.
With an emphasis on sustainability and holistic thinking, the environmental studies minor provides students with opportunities for the in-depth analysis of global and regional environmental issues, their causes, and their potential solutions. In particular, a required 500-level seminar serves as a capstone experience, helping students to integrate knowledge from several disciplinary perspectives, including socio-cultural, historical, political, economic, ethical, scientific, and/or technological factors. Having completed the minor, students will possess a high level of environmental literacy, an important component of many professional fields within the sciences, engineering, law, journalism, and public affairs.
The science, technology, and society immersion examines some of the major impacts of science and technology in the contemporary world. Special preference is given to American concerns. Students gain an overall appreciation of the social nature of science and technology as they have developed in the past, as they exist today, and as they may affect society in the future under various scenarios. Science and technology have become social systems in their own right and have made possible increasing freedom, a fantastic variety of choice, and, paradoxically, the growing interdependence of all segments of world society. A new level of public awareness and concern is crucial to understanding and dealing successfully with these consequences.
This minor integrates the studies of human society, science, and technology in their social content and context. The minor bridges the humanities and social sciences to provide better understanding of the ways in which science, technology, and society are mutually interacting forces in our world. Students learn how to analyze the social institutions, the built environment, and their role in creating them. This minor enhances a student’s ability to contribute to the development of science and technology in ways that are historically, culturally, and ethically informed.
The Aberg Family Fellowship is an annual award consisting of up to $5000 to cover expenses incurred between a faculty member in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society and a student mentee to allow for an enhanced learning experience.
The fund is established by the Aberg family to commemorate their daughter Ashley Aberg's experiences as an undergraduate completing a minor in Science, Technology, and Society.
Due to the diversity of learning experiences, awards may cover expenses of:
One-time events, including but not limited to conference travel and participation;
Long-term events, including but not limited to funding student research with a mentor.
Learning experiences are not limited to the RIT campus and may take place remotely. A final determination of award will be made by the Aberg Family Fellowship Review Committee and submitted to the department.
Students do not need to be enrolled in an STS program; however, faculty mentors' home department must be STS.
In the event that two or more students are working together with one mentor, the award may be split between the students at the discretion of the faculty member, the Review Committee, and the department.
Students initiate the application process by submitting a one-page statement of reason to the mentor outlining how the learning experience fits into the student's program of study. The one-page document must clearly demonstrate the advantages to the student's education and/or professional goals. You can access the application instructions here.
A second budgetary page must demonstrate how both parties will utilize the amount requested. Together, the student and mentor will submit the entire application to the Chair of the Aberg family Fellowship Review Committee.
Applications will be accepted twice a year, by October 1 and March 1. Final award announcements will occur within 30 days of the proposal submissions.
If the application is for a one-time event it is possible that a mentor and student will apply for attendance at the event before a formal call for proposals or other information is released. In this event, the student and mentor will use the previous year's information or call. In the event that the learning experience requires work with an off-campus site or persons, the proposal may be made without RIT oversight, but a letter of invitation must be in hand by the start date and all internal reviews must be completed (e.g., human subjects, IRB, etc.). The Review Committee will determine if the proposed learning experience is mature enough to be considered.
If, in any review cycle, no application is deemed worthy, no award will be made during that cycle. In rare occasions, a proposal may be submitted outside of the official due dates, and the review will proceed as described above.
Within 30 days of completing the learning experience the student must submit a one-page summary on the experience to the Chair of the Review Committee, who will keep an electronic copy on file and who will share it with all faculty in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, and with the Aberg family.