Department of Science, Technology, and Society

Overview

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.

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Science, Technology, and Society courses

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minors: science, technology, and society; and environmental studies

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immersions: science, technology, and society; and environmental studies

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Minors and Immersions

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.

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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.

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The science and technology studies 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.

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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.

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