Science, Technology & Society
What is STS?
The acronym "STS" stands for Science, Technology, and Society. Integrating concepts and methods from the humanities and the social sciences, STS offers an interdisciplinary perspective on science and technology as human activities with cultural and political consequences. Topics include the varied social and historical contexts that produce scientific knowledge, the ways in which political and cultural values affect scientific and technological research, the impact of technological innovation on different social classes, and the significance of scientific and technological progress for what it means to be human.
What is the STS Program at UAH?
For now, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (the STS Program) is an academic minor: an interdisciplinary collection of three core courses and four electives. The core courses introduce historical, philosophical, and sociological approaches to understanding science and technology. As enrollment in the minor grows, the STS Program aims to introduce non-course-based activities, such as invited speakers, internships, and community outreach efforts.
Why minor in STS?
From an intellectual point of view: Connections between science/technology and humanities/social sciences rarely surface within the academic disciplines themselves. Minoring in STS reveals these connections. It thereby facilitates recognizing limitations within individual disciplines, potentials for collaboration or conflict between disciplines, and critique or evaluation of disciplines. (For a similar reason, completing a series of STS courses is likely to be stimulating in a way that completing other course series is not.) Moreover, because the coursework for the STS cognate is cross-disciplinary, minoring in STS enhances communication skills relevant to talking with non-specialists about science and technology.
From a social point of view: Because it is interdisciplinary, courses in the minor consist of students from many disciplines. Because many of the STS do not help to satisfy GER requirements, students do not enroll merely to satisfy generic requirements. Hence, minoring in STS offers a chance to interact with people outside of your major who are likely to share an interest in the intersections of science, technology, and society.
From an employment point of view: Interdisciplinary minors enhance higher-level modes of thought: analysis of concepts from multiple disciplines, integration of methodologies, and creative synthesis of research. These are skills that employers value, they are skills that enhance your chances of promotion or your ability to switch professions, and they are skills that help to set you apart from others who graduate with a degree in your major. STS responds to a growing need for professionals who can integrate perspectives and thought styles from multiple academic disciplines to address the role and significance of science and technology in the contemporary world. People who can pair knowledge of a field of science, engineering, computing, or mathematics with sharp analytical thinking, writing, or design skills are increasingly attractive on the competitive job market for public sector professions, marketing, business, journalism, and humanitarian organizations. Even for those majoring in a discipline with a clear career track, minoring in STS teaches skills and resources that open options to pivot into other careers – including science journalism, education, law, business administration, and entrepreneurship for tech companies.
From a scholarly point of view: Minoring in STS is excellent preparation for graduate programs that specialize in areas such as environmental policy, technology policy, or biotechnology patent law.
How do I minor in STS?
Minoring in STS requires completing 21 credit hours, with no more than 6 credit hours in any one discipline, such that at least 12 hours are above 300 level and at least 6 of those 12 hours are completed at UAH.
The core courses, required for all minors, are PHL150, SOC150, and one of HY369, HY 370, or HY399-History of Science. The core constitutes 3/7 of the cognate and 1/4 of the requirement for courses above the 300 level.
There are many elective courses. The cognate requires that you take four electives, and that at least three of the electives be above 300 level. If your major is not in the College of Liberal Arts, up to two non-major courses in science, mathematics, or engineering can count toward an STS minor. The preapproved elective courses for the STS minor are:
- EH 302 (prereq: EH 101, EH102, junior standing)
- EH 425 (cross-listed with a graduate level course)
- GS 220
- HY 368/9 or 370 or 399 (if not part of core) (prereq: junior or permission)
- SOC 369 or 480 (prereq: SOC100)
- PHL 311 (prereq: PHL 101 or 202 or permission)
- PY 403
Other courses can qualify with special permission from the STS Program Coordinator.
Who oversees the STS program?
The Program Coordinator is responsible for all program-related activities and receives assistance and advice from a five-member Advisory Committee. The Program Coordinator reports to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Program Coordinator Term of Service
Nicholaos Jones, Philosophy (September 2013 – September 2017)
Evan Ragland, History (October 2013 – October 2015)
William Wilkerson, Philosophy (October 2013 – October 2015)
Richard Simon, Sociology (October 2013 – October 2015)
Eric Smith, English (October 2013 – October 2015)
James Stoutenborough, Political Science (October 2013 – October 2015)
Where can I learn more about STS?
Feel free to visit the office of any professor teaching a core course in the STS cognate. You also may address questions to the STS Program Coordinator, Dr. Nicholaos Jones. His office is 332 Morton Hall, and his email is nick DOT jones AT uah DOT edu.
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