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.
The plan code for Science, Technology, and Society Minor is STS-MN.
Curriculum for Science, Technology, and Society Minor
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) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
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. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Philosophy of Science
An examination of the nature of the scientific enterprise; possible discussion topics include the presuppositions of science, its logic, its claims to reliability, and its relationships to society and to problems of human values. (Prerequisites: Completion of one (1) course in philosophy (at the 200 level or higher) or a major in the College of Science or College of Health Science and Technology or
PSYC-BS.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Foundations of Engagement and Community Transformation
Are you passionate about addressing the socially-complex, wicked problems of our time? This interdisciplinary, active-learning course will lay the groundwork for students who want to participate in future place-based community-engaged research, development or design projects that build on community strengths and address community determined challenges. Through literature reviews, discussions, cases study analysis, role plays, debates, reflective writing, and visits with experienced community practitioners, we will explore the larger context of the systems within which we live and how others have engaged in efforts to improve community wellbeing both locally and globally. We will strive for a more nuanced understanding of our world and its power dynamics from various perspectives. We will investigate the context in which community and economic development has traditionally occurred, how technology has been involved, and the effects of projects and activities on the “beneficiaries”. We will investigate best practices including mindsets, worldviews, skills, processes, and tools for community-driven positive change. Finally we will use all our learnings to develop our own evaluation framework and apply it to a current community project. This course incorporates humanities and social science approaches and counts for general education requirements. Lecture 3 (Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
History of Women in Science and Engineering
Using biographical and social-historical approaches, this course examines the history of women's involvement in science and engineering since the birth of modern science in the seventeenth century; the historical roots of gender bias in the Western scientific enterprise; and the influx of women into science and engineering since the mid-to-late 20th century. Cross-listed with women's and gender studies. Lecture 3 (Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Industry, Environment, and Community in Rochester
This course examines Rochester through the lens of industrialization, immigration, technological innovation, and environmental change between the 1890s and 1990s. This class blends readings and discussion with experiential learning and community-based research projects to help students understand community identity as a result of changes in livelihoods, immigration, and environment. Students will examine these social changes in both a local and global context. Students will have a better appreciation for the way historical forces shape a contemporary sense of place. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Disasters represent a disruption to daily life, with technological disasters defined as disasters resulting from human-made causes, where failures in modern technology create both acute and ongoing dangers for communities. This course focuses on how human technological advances can have adverse impacts on the communities those innovations are meant to improve. Through an investigation of technological systems and case-specific technologies, combined with ecological, social, and political systems, the causes, consequences, and long-term implications of technological disasters are considered. The course will examine cases that range from the actual to the anticipated, such as the New Orleans levee failures, Flint water crisis, Dalkon shield contraception, large-scale networked hacks, CRISPR-created and/or naturally-occurring superviruses, voting poll technology failures, and AI, in the context of the societal systems of modern industrial capitalism. Special attention will be paid to aspects of social vulnerability which make the impacts of technological disasters different for various sub-populations within their respective communities. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Biomedical Issues: Science and Technology
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. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
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. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Technology in American History
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.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
Nature and Quantification
In this course, students will examine the ways in which “nature,” broadly conceived, has been quantified, standardized, and in many cases commodified in the modern West – often in the context of the natural sciences, government bureaucracies, capitalist markets, or some combination of the three. Reading and discussing broadly across history, science studies, anthropology, philosophy, and ecology, students will gain multidisciplinary perspectives on modern informational thinking, and develop analytical tools for assessing contemporary issues related to the quantified environment. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
Cyborg Theory: (Re)thinking the Human Experience in the 21st Century
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
The Natural Sciences in Western History
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Topics in Science, Technology, & Society
This course will focus on a special problem or topical area in the field of STS. Topics and specific content and methods vary from year to year or Semester to Semester. This course may count for minors and immersions with the permission of the Department. The STS Department Chair and individual instructors may be contacted for details. Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
STSO Independent Study
* Interdisciplinary Capstone Seminar (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.