Science, Technology, and Society
Science, Technology and Society (STS) is an interdisciplinary field that studies the conditions under which the production, distribution and utilization of scientific knowledge and technological systems occur; the consequences of these activities upon different groups of people. STS builds on the history and philosophy of science and technology, sociology and anthropology, policy studies, and cultural and literary studies; all of which shape the modes of analysis deployed in the field. The intercollegiate program brings together courses taught in a variety of departments, and is divided into three principal areas: history of science and technology, philosophy of science and technology, and social science approaches to technology and science. Courses explore the effects of science and technology on society and culture; the politics of socio-technical systems; science policy in national and international contexts; the social and environmental risks vs. benefits of technological and scientific advancement and, more specifically, cover topics such as the political economy of pollution, the culture of the scientific laboratory, theories of race and genetic engineering, social networking and the Internet, the body and politics of health.
Students majoring in STS are well prepared to pursue graduate study in related field and also have a solid foundation for work as science journalists, policy researchers and advisers, science educators, design and business consultants, and advocates of change around issues such as gender and science, renewable energy and the social effects of the information revolution. In addition, STS is an excellent academic background for students intending to pursue careers in medicine, law, business and education.
Pitzer advisers: J. Grabiner, G. Herrera, B. Keeley, D. Segal, S. Snowiss, A. Wachtel; A. Wakefield.
Requirements for the Major
Requirements for the Major in Science, Technology and Society The requirements for the major involve a minimum of 12 courses distributed as follows:
- 1. Four "science and technology practice" courses (science and/or engineering). STS is about knowledge-making practices, so students should experience those practices directly; laboratories and mathematics are especially significant in producing scientific knowledge, and therefore important "ways of knowing" that students should experience in the process of learning about a particular scientific or engineering field.
- a. one semester of mathematics at the level of first-semester calculus or higher. This requirement may be filled by a comparably advanced course in statistics or principles of computing, e.g., Math 52 PZ, Math 58 PO.
- b. one semester of a laboratory science.
- c. three of the courses must be in 1 field, count toward a major in that field, or be prerequisites to courses that count toward a major in that field, except that, if the field is Mathematics, Mathematics 23 and 25 do not meet this requirement.
- 2. Four "context and theory" courses
These course explicitly examine science and technology as social institutions, and
explore the theories, concepts, and methods one encounters in doing so.
- a. two historical studies courses from STS 80, 81, 82
- b. one philosophy of science course from Phil 103 or 104
- c. one "social science
- 3. Three "concentration" courses
Courses listed in the STS section of the course schedule that relate to the student's focus in science and/or engineering practice, selected with approval of the adviser. One of these courses may be replaced with a senior thesis. This requirement helps students develop their individual interests. Students might concentrate In a type of STS issue such as a technological controversy, policy problem, or application; or they might seek depth in a cognate discipline (philosophy, anthropology, etc.). These courses should be in addition to the courses in requirements in #1 and #2 above.
- 4. STS 191, Senior Integrative Seminar (senior exercise)
Requirements for a Minor in Science, Technology and Society
The STS minor is comprised of six courses; one each in history, philosophy, and social studies of science and/or technology; the remaining three are STS-approved electives.