Science, Technology, and Society Minor

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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.

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student’s academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.


Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student’s academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
Required Course
Seminar in STS*
This course is an upper-level undergraduate seminar that explores how science, technology, society, environment and policy are understood in contemporary and historical contexts. The course brings together a variety of views and readings to offer an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complex ways in which citizens make and understand the world. (Enrollment in Department of STS/Public Policy)
Choose four of the following:†
   Literature and Technology
Surveying the rise of computing technologies, information theories, and information economies in the last century, this course considers their impact on literature, culture and knowledge-formation. In particular, we will reflect on topics such as the relations between social and technological transformation, literary print and digital cultures and electronic literature.
   Philosophy of Science
   Energy Policy
This course provides an overview of energy resources, technologies, and policies designed to ensure clean, stable supplies of energy for the future. The course evaluates the impacts of fossil fuel, renewable energy, and hydrogen technologies on society and how public policies can be used to influence their development. The development of U.S. energy policy is of particular concern, although a global perspective will be integrated throughout the course.
   Science Technology and Values
This course explores the concepts and effects of science and technology on society, analyzes the relationship between science and technology, examines how each has come to play a major role today, and looks at how science and technology have affected and been affected by our values. This course also considers the environmental aspects of science and technology. Science and technology are often assumed to be value free, yet people, guided by individual and societal values, develop the science and technology. In turn, the choices people make among the opportunities provided by science and technology are guided by their individual values.
   Science and Technology Policy
Examines how local, state, federal and international policies are developed to influence innovation, the transfer of technology and industrial productivity in the United States and other selected nations.
   Social Consequences of Technology
Modern society is increasingly based on technology. With each advance due to technology, unanticipated problems are also introduced. Society must define and solve these problems or the advances may be diluted or lost. In this course we study several interactions between technology and the world in which we live. We investigate how various technologies developed and compare the expected effects of the new technologies with the actual results.
   History of Women in Science and Engineering
   Face of the Land 
Based on field trips and critical readings, this course explores how the land around us has been shaped and reshaped through a variety of geological forces and historical developments. By considering the natural landforms of the United States (and other countries, as appropriate), students see how the nature of land has determined its value. As technological innovations occur, old relationships with the land have been altered. Thus the course offers students a historical approach to the relationship of technology and society, as evidence by the landscape. The seminar format for this course will also advance students' writing, speaking, and research skills.
   Biomedical Issues
A study of the impact of science and technology on life, our view of life and of the value issues that arise from this impact.
   Gender, Science and Technology
This course explores the importance of gender within Western science and technology. It considers how masculine and feminine identities are socially and culturally shaped, how sex and gender are being significantly transformed, and how rethinking gendered practices may help make science and technology fairer and more responsive. Cross-listed with women's and gender studies.
   Makers of Modern Science
Approaches the history of science through studying biographies of modern scientists. Modern science is understood to be science from the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries to the present. Emphasis will be on recent scholarship devoted to analyzing science in context, i.e., the way it actually develops through the lives of individuals, in particular social and political contexts.
   History of American Technology
This course explores the development of technology in American history, from the time of first contact between Europeans and Native Americans to the present. It emphasizes, for different periods in American history: the technological contributions of individuals or distinctive groups, the main features of important technological systems, and the way technology shaped--and was shaped by--the social, economic, and political institutions of the time.)
   Cyborg Theory
The developing cybernetic organism or cyborg challenges traditional concepts of what it means to be human. Today medical science and science fiction appear to merge in ways unimagined a century ago. By exploring scientific and cultural theories, science fiction, and public experience, this class examines the history and potential of the cyborg in Western cultures.
   Science, Technology and Society Classics
STS classics are books that involve science or technology and that also have notable social significance. In this course students will read several such books to advance their understanding of how society learns about, explores, and evaluates science and technology. The seminar format for this course will also advance students' writing, speaking, and research skills.
   History of Science
This course explores the development of the natural sciences in Western history, from ancient times to the present. It emphasizes how astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology have changed over time, and it seeks to place those changes in their social, economic, cultural, and religious contexts.
   History of Chemistry
This course surveys the history of chemistry from antiquity to the present. Emphasis will be placed on developments since the Renaissance; on changing views of how matter is structured and how different substances react (or fail to react); and on the political, social, and

* Seminar in STS (STSO-510) requires enrollment in the minor and the completion of two courses from the minor.

† At least one course must be at the 300 level or higher.