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: G. Herrera, B. Keeley, D. Segal, S. Snowiss, A. Wachtel; A. Wakefield.

Student Learning Outcomes

STS students will learn:

  1. To understand knowledge-making practices within the disciplines of science, and experience those practices directly through laboratory sciences, mathematics, and/or engineering.
  2. To examine science and technology as historical practices and as social institutions, being able to explain the theories, concepts, and methods used in such examination.
  3. To explain in depth the way the social and cultural conditions of science and technology interact with science and technology in a particular field.
  4. To develop individual interests, through a thesis or research paper, that engage a technological controversy, policy problem, or application; or seek comparable intellectual depth in a cognate discipline such as philosophy, history or anthropology.
  5. To demonstrate the ability to weave the major’s different strands together in an intellectually robust way, through a senior thesis, the senior integrative seminar, or comparable capstone experience.

To be well prepared for graduate work and future careers in the health sciences, science writing, design and engineering, public policy, environmental studies, law, or academia.