• Skip to Content
  • Bulletin Home

MIT Bulletin

  • Schools >
  • School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences >

Science, Technology, and Society

  • Around Campus
  • Academic Program
  • Administration
  • Arts at MIT
  • Campus Media
  • Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups
  • Medical Services
  • Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center
  • Religious Organizations
  • Student Government
  • Work/​Life and Family Resources
  • Advising and Support
  • Digital Learning
  • Disability and Access Services
  • Information Systems and Technology
  • Student Financial Services
  • Writing and Communication Center
  • Major Course of Study
  • General Institute Requirements
  • Independent Activites Period
  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
  • First-​Year Advising Seminars
  • Interphase EDGE/​x
  • Edgerton Center
  • Grading Options
  • Study at Other Universities
  • Internships Abroad
  • Career Advising and Professional Development
  • Teacher Licensure and Education
  • ROTC Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Medical Requirements
  • Graduate Study at MIT
  • General Degree Requirements
  • Other Institutions
  • Registration
  • Term Regulations and Examination Policies
  • Academic Performance and Grades
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Privacy of Student Records
  • Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
  • Art, Culture, and Technology Program
  • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • Center for Archaeological Materials
  • Center for Bits and Atoms
  • Center for Clinical and Translational Research
  • Center for Collective Intelligence
  • Center for Computational Science and Engineering
  • Center for Constructive Communication
  • Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research
  • Center for Environmental Health Sciences
  • Center for Global Change Science
  • Center for International Studies
  • Center for Real Estate
  • Center for Transportation &​ Logistics
  • Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  • Concrete Sustainability Hub
  • D-​Lab
  • Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation
  • Division of Comparative Medicine
  • Haystack Observatory
  • Initiative on the Digital Economy
  • Institute for Medical Engineering and Science
  • Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies
  • Institute for Work and Employment Research
  • Internet Policy Research Initiative
  • Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
  • Knight Science Journalism Program
  • Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
  • Laboratory for Financial Engineering
  • Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems
  • Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity
  • Laboratory for Nuclear Science
  • Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship
  • Lincoln Laboratory
  • Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship
  • Materials Research Laboratory
  • McGovern Institute for Brain Research
  • Microsystems Technology Laboratories
  • MIT Center for Art, Science &​ Technology
  • MIT Energy Initiative
  • MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative
  • MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research
  • MIT Media Lab
  • MIT Office of Innovation
  • MIT Open Learning
  • MIT Portugal Program
  • MIT Professional Education
  • MIT Sea Grant College Program
  • Nuclear Reactor Laboratory
  • Operations Research Center
  • Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
  • Plasma Science and Fusion Center
  • Research Laboratory of Electronics
  • Simons Center for the Social Brain
  • Singapore-​MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre
  • Sociotechnical Systems Research Center
  • Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
  • Women's and Gender Studies Program
  • Architecture (Course 4)
  • Art and Design (Course 4-​B)
  • Art, Culture, and Technology (SM)
  • Media Arts and Sciences
  • Planning (Course 11)
  • Urban Science and Planning with Computer Science (Course 11-​6)
  • Aerospace Engineering (Course 16)
  • Engineering (Course 16-​ENG)
  • Biological Engineering (Course 20)
  • Chemical Engineering (Course 10)
  • Chemical-​Biological Engineering (Course 10-​B)
  • Chemical Engineering (Course 10-​C)
  • Engineering (Course 10-​ENG)
  • Engineering (Course 1-​ENG)
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Course 6-​2)
  • Electrical Science and Engineering (Course 6-​1)
  • Computation and Cognition (Course 6-​9)
  • Computer Science and Engineering (Course 6-​3)
  • Computer Science and Molecular Biology (Course 6-​7)
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (MEng)
  • Computer Science and Molecular Biology (MEng)
  • Health Sciences and Technology
  • Archaeology and Materials (Course 3-​C)
  • Materials Science and Engineering (Course 3)
  • Materials Science and Engineering (Course 3-​A)
  • Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
  • Mechanical Engineering (Course 2)
  • Mechanical and Ocean Engineering (Course 2-​OE)
  • Engineering (Course 2-​A)
  • Nuclear Science and Engineering (Course 22)
  • Engineering (Course 22-​ENG)
  • Anthropology (Course 21A)
  • Comparative Media Studies (CMS)
  • Writing (Course 21W)
  • Economics (Course 14-​1)
  • Mathematical Economics (Course 14-​2)
  • Data, Economics, and Design of Policy (MASc)
  • Economics (PhD)
  • Global Studies and Languages (Course 21G)
  • History (Course 21H)
  • Linguistics and Philosophy (Course 24-​2)
  • Philosophy (Course 24-​1)
  • Linguistics (SM)
  • Literature (Course 21L)
  • Music (Course 21M-​1)
  • Theater Arts (Course 21M-​2)
  • Political Science (Course 17)
  • Science, Technology, and Society/​Second Major (STS)
  • Business Analytics (Course 15-​2)
  • Finance (Course 15-​3)
  • Management (Course 15-​1)
  • Biology (Course 7)
  • Chemistry and Biology (Course 5-​7)
  • Brain and Cognitive Sciences (Course 9)
  • Chemistry (Course 5)
  • Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (Course 12)
  • Mathematics (Course 18)
  • Mathematics with Computer Science (Course 18-​C)
  • Physics (Course 8)
  • Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
  • Chemistry and Biology
  • Climate System Science and Engineering
  • Computation and Cognition
  • Computer Science and Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science
  • Humanities and Engineering
  • Humanities and Science
  • Urban Science and Planning with Computer Science
  • African and African Diaspora Studies
  • American Studies
  • Ancient and Medieval Studies
  • Applied International Studies
  • Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Energy Studies
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Latin American and Latino/​a Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Polymers and Soft Matter
  • Public Policy
  • Russian and Eurasian Studies
  • Statistics and Data Science
  • Women's and Gender Studies
  • Advanced Urbanism
  • Computational and Systems Biology
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • Design and Management (IDM &​ SDM)
  • Joint Program with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Leaders for Global Operations
  • Microbiology
  • Music Technology and Computation
  • Operations Research
  • Real Estate Development
  • Social and Engineering Systems
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Technology and Policy
  • Transportation
  • School of Architecture and Planning
  • School of Engineering
  • Aeronautics and Astronautics Fields (PhD)
  • Artificial Intelligence and Decision Making (Course 6-​4)
  • Biological Engineering (PhD)
  • Nuclear Science and Engineering (PhD)
  • School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
  • Humanities (Course 21)
  • Humanities and Engineering (Course 21E)
  • Humanities and Science (Course 21S)
  • Sloan School of Management
  • School of Science
  • Brain and Cognitive Sciences (PhD)
  • Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Fields (PhD)
  • Interdisciplinary Programs (SB)
  • Climate System Science and Engineering (Course 1-​12)
  • Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science (Course 6-​14)
  • Interdisciplinary Programs (Graduate)
  • Computation and Cognition (MEng)
  • Computational Science and Engineering (SM)
  • Computational Science and Engineering (PhD)
  • Computer Science, Economics, and Data Science (MEng)
  • Leaders for Global Operations (MBA/​SM and SM)
  • Music Technology and Computation (SM and MASc)
  • Real Estate Development (SM)
  • Statistics (PhD)
  • Supply Chain Management (MEng and MASc)
  • Technology and Policy (SM)
  • Transportation (SM)
  • Aeronautics and Astronautics (Course 16)
  • Aerospace Studies (AS)
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering (Course 1)
  • Comparative Media Studies /​ Writing (CMS)
  • Comparative Media Studies /​ Writing (Course 21W)
  • Computational and Systems Biology (CSB)
  • Computational Science and Engineering (CSE)
  • Concourse (CC)
  • Data, Systems, and Society (IDS)
  • Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (Course 12)
  • Economics (Course 14)
  • Edgerton Center (EC)
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Course 6)
  • Engineering Management (EM)
  • Experimental Study Group (ES)
  • Global Languages (Course 21G)
  • Health Sciences and Technology (HST)
  • Linguistics and Philosophy (Course 24)
  • Management (Course 15)
  • Media Arts and Sciences (MAS)
  • Military Science (MS)
  • Music and Theater Arts (Course 21M)
  • Naval Science (NS)
  • Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
  • Special Programs
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM)
  • Urban Studies and Planning (Course 11)
  • Women's and Gender Studies (WGS)

The Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) focuses on the ways in which scientific, technological, and social factors interact to shape modern life. The program brings together humanists, social scientists, engineers, and natural scientists, all committed to transcending the boundaries of their disciplines in a joint search for new insights and new ways of reaching science and engineering students. The goal of the program is to set up a forum to explore the relationship between what scientists and engineers do and the constraints, needs, and responses of society.

Located in a major university where most people study science and engineering, STS is dedicated to understanding the context of science and engineering.

STS as a Second Major

Joint degree programs, minor in science, technology, and society, undergraduate study.

MIT students are increasingly seeking to understand the social and historical contexts in which they will work and the social consequences of what they will do in their professional careers. STS subjects help them think realistically and creatively about the intellectual, moral, political, and social issues raised by the rapid growth of science and technology in the 20th century and beyond.

STS contributes to undergraduate education at MIT in several ways. It offers general subjects to introduce students to broad social and intellectual perspectives on science and engineering fields. It also offers more specialized subjects in the history of science and technology and in social and cultural studies of science and technology. Within each of these categories, students can choose both introductory and more advanced subjects.

Students who wish to integrate their professional study of engineering or science with a rigorous treatment of its relation to social and historical forces may pursue STS as a second major in cooperation with the Schools of Engineering and Science. The object of this program is to give those students the full technical and scientific education provided by a science or engineering major, balanced with intensive study of the historical and social contexts of science and technology. Double major applications from students in other schools (e.g., Architecture and Planning; Management; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students in the double major program must complete all the requirements of both majors. The STS requirements include 13 subjects as follows:

STS.004 Intersections: Science, Technology, and the World

  • At least one STS Tier I subject , in addition to STS.004
  • At least one STS Tier II subject  
  • Four other STS subjects
  • Four subjects related to the historical and social study of science and technology
  • STS.THT Undergraduate Thesis Tutorial  

STS.THU Undergraduate Thesis

If a student's other major also requires a thesis, students may coordinate their thesis effort, pending approval of undergraduate officers in both majors. Further details on the requirements of the STS program may be obtained from the STS undergraduate academic officer and the STS academic administrator.

Students who wish to integrate studies in STS and science or engineering in the context of a single degree should consider this program. It leads to one degree, either a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Science or a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Engineering. The STS requirement for either degree is 9 subjects as follows:

Consult the 21E and 21S degree charts for details on the requirements for these joint degrees. Further details may be obtained from the SHASS Dean's Office , Room 4-240, and the STS academic administrator.

The goal of the minor program is to give students a broad social perspective on the fields of engineering and science: how they have evolved and how they fit into the wider context of society, culture, politics, and values.

The Minor in Science, Technology, and Society consists of six STS subjects, including STS.004 , at least one additional subject from the Tier I list, and at least one subject from the Tier II list.

Graduate Study

In collaboration, STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology Program offer a doctoral program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS).

The objective of the program is to develop advanced competence in the study of science and technology from a historical and social scientific perspective. Students are expected to develop professional mastery of a field of history or one of the social sciences. They must also master the underlying concepts in science and engineering that relate to their special field of interest.

Graduate students are required to take at least 10 subjects and usually complete them within their first two years. In addition, students must complete STS.840 HASTS Professional Perspective . Normally, all students take the following required introductory seminars in their first year:

Students are encouraged to take 21A.809 Designing Empirical Research in the Social Sciences or 21A.819 Ethnographic Research Methods at some point in their program. To fulfill the remaining subject requirement, students choose from among several departmental seminars designed to offer more in-depth study of particular topics. They may also take subjects offered by other MIT departments and through cross-registration with Harvard.

Students enrolled in the PhD program have the option to earn a SM in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) en route to the PhD by satisfactorily completing first year requirements, submitting a master’s thesis, and completing six subjects (72 units) including the three required seminars above.

Upon the satisfactory completion of coursework, program milestones, and general examinations — normally all to be completed by the third year — students proceed to independent dissertation research and dissertation writing with the mentorship and guidance of a multidisciplinary dissertation committee.

Students from any academic discipline are invited to apply to the doctoral program.

Visit the website for additional information about the HASTS graduate program or contact the STS academic administrator , Room E51-163, 617-253-9759.

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Deborah K. Fitzgerald, PhD

Leverett Howell Cutten '07 and William King Cutten '39 Professor of the History of Technology

Head, Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Kate Brown, PhD

Thomas M. Siebel Distinguished Professor in the History of Science

Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Michael M. J. Fischer, PhD

Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities

Professor of Science and Technology Studies

Professor of Anthropology

David I. Kaiser, PhD

Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science

Professor of Physics

(On leave, fall)

Jennifer S. Light, PhD

Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology

Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Kenneth R. Manning, PhD

Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric

Chakanetsa Mavhunga, PhD

David A. Mindell, PhD

Frances and David Dibner Professor in the History of Engineering and Manufacturing

Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Merritt Roe Smith, PhD

Professor of History

Sherry R. Turkle, PhD

Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology

Associate Professors

Dwaipayan Banerjee, PhD

Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

William Deringer, PhD

Eden Medina, PhD

Robin Scheffler, PhD

(On leave, spring)

Assistant Professors

Eli Nelson, PhD

Ford Career Development Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Adjunct Professors

John R. Durant, PhD

Adjunct Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Professors Emeriti

Louis L. Bucciarelli Jr, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Engineering and Technology Studies

Loren Graham, PhD

Professor Emeritus of the History of Science

Evelyn Fox Keller, PhD

Professor Emerita of the History and Philosophy of Science

Theodore A. Postol, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy

Eugene B. Skolnikoff, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Political Science

Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and Society

Rosalind H. Williams, PhD

Professor Emerita of Science, Technology, and Society

Undergraduate Subjects

Tier i subjects, sts.001 technology in american history.

Prereq: None U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

A survey of America's transition from a rural, agrarian, and artisan society to one of the world's leading industrial powers. Treats the emergence of industrial capitalism: the rise of the factory system; new forms of power, transport, and communication; the advent of the large industrial corporation; the social relations of production; and the hallmarks of science-based industry. Views technology as part of the larger culture and reveals innovation as a process consisting of a range of possibilities that are chosen or rejected according to the social criteria of the time.

M. R. Smith

STS.002 Finance and Society

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S; CI-H

Examines finance as a social technology intended to improve economic opportunity by moving capital to where it is most needed. Surveys the history of modern finance, from medieval Italy to the Great Depression, while addressing credit, finance and state (and imperial) power, global financial interconnection, and financial crises. Explores modern finance (since about 1950) from a variety of historical and social-scientific perspectives, covering quant finance, financialization, the crisis of 2007-2008, and finance in the digital age. Enrollment limited.

W. Deringer

STS.003 Ancient Greeks to Modern Geeks: A History of Science

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H; CI-H

Covers the development of major fields in the physical and life sciences, from 18th-century Europe through 20th-century America. Examines ideas, institutions, and the social settings of the sciences, with emphasis on how cultural contexts influence scientific concepts and practices.

W. Deringer, D. I. Kaiser

Exposes students to multidisciplinary studies in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), using four case studies to illustrate a broad range of approaches to basic principles of STS studies. Case studies vary from year to year, but always include a current MIT event. Other topics are drawn from legal and political conflicts, and arts and communication media. Includes guest presenters, discussion groups, field activities, visual media, and a practicum style of learning. Enrollment limited.

D. Fitzgerald

STS.005[J] Data and Society

Same subject as 11.155[J] , IDS.057[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Introduces students to the social, political, and ethical aspects of data science work. Designed to create reflective practitioners who are able to think critically about how collecting, aggregating, and analyzing data are social processes and processes that affect people.

E. Medina, S. Williams

STS.006[J] Bioethics

Same subject as 24.06[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H; CI-H

See description under subject 24.06[J] .

R. Scheffler

STS.008 Technology and Experience

Introduces the "inner history" of technology: how it affects intimate aspects of human experience from sociological, psychological and anthropological perspectives. Topics vary, but may include how the internet transforms our experience of time, space, privacy, and social engagement; how entertainment media affects attention, creativity, aesthetics and emotion; how innovations in wearable and textile technologies reshape notions of history and identity; how pharmaceuticals reshape identity, mood, pain, and pleasure. Includes in-class discussion of readings, short written and multimedia assignments, final project. Enrollment limited.

STS.009 Evolution and Society

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H; CI-H

Provides a broad conceptual and historical introduction to scientific theories of evolution and their place in the wider culture. Embraces historical, scientific and anthropological/cultural perspectives grounded in relevant developments in the biological sciences since 1800 that are largely responsible for the development of the modern theory of evolution by natural selection. Students read key texts, analyze key debates (e.g. Darwinian debates in the 19th century, and the creation controversies in the 20th century) and give class presentations.

J. Durant, R. Scheffler

STS.011 Engineering Life: Biotechnology and Society

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (Fall) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Provides instruction in the history of humanity's efforts to control and shape life through biotechnology, from agriculture to gene editing. Examines the technologies, individuals and socio-economic systems that are associated with such efforts, as well as the impact that these efforts have on society and science as a whole. Explores these issues with particular attention to the development of the modern biotechnology industry in the Greater Boston area. Includes a field trip.

R. W. Scheffler

STS.012 Science in Action: Technologies and Controversies in Everyday Life

Prereq: None U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

Explores a range of controversies about the role of technology, the nature of scientific research and the place of politics in science: debates about digital piracy and privacy, the role of activism in science, the increasingly unclear boundaries between human and non-human, the role of MRIs as courtroom evidence, the potential influence of gender on scientific research, etc. Provides exposure to science in a dynamic relation with social life and cultural ideas. Materials draw from humanities and social science research, ethnographic fieldwork, films and science podcasts, as well as from experimental multimedia. Enrollment limited.

D. Banerjee

STS.014 Embodied Education: Past, Present, Future

Discusses recent scientific and educational research that finds that the human body in motion is a medium for learning. Explores how and why physical education was integrated into the US educational system while remaining separate from academic subjects — and how and why 21st-century institutions might combine the two. Weekly in-lecture labs demonstrate how exercise can inform academic instruction and invite students to create future curricula. Students who enroll in this class may receive both HASS-S credit for it and may enroll to earn two Physical Education and Wellness (PE&W) points. Limited to 20.

J. S. Light, DAPER Instructors

Tier II Subjects

Sts.021[j] science activism: gender, race, and power.

Same subject as WGS.160[J] Prereq: None U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-E

See description under subject WGS.160[J] .

E. Bertschinger

STS.022[J] Gender, Race, and Environmental Justice

Same subject as 21A.407[J] , 21G.057[J] , WGS.275[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

Provides an introduction to the analysis of gender in science, technology, and environmental politics from a global perspective. Familiarizes students with central objects, questions, and methods in the field. Examines existent critiques of the racial, sexual and environmental politics at stake in techno-scientific cultures. Draws on material from popular culture, media, fiction, film, and ethnography. Addressing specific examples from across the globe, students also explore different approaches to build more livable environments that promote social justice. Taught in English. Limited to 18.

B. Stoetzer

STS.023[J] Science, Gender and Social Inequality in the Developing World

Same subject as WGS.226[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

See description under subject WGS.226[J] .

STS.025[J] Making the Modern World: The Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective

Same subject as 21H.285[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Global survey of the great transformation in history known as the "Industrial Revolution." Topics include origins of mechanized production, the factory system, steam propulsion, electrification, mass communications, mass production and automation. Emphasis on the transfer of technology and its many adaptations around the world. Countries treated include Great Britain, France, Germany, the US, Sweden, Russia, Japan, China, and India. Includes brief reflection papers and a final paper.

STS.026 History of Manufacturing in America

Subject meets with STS.425 Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Introductory survey of fundamental innovations and transitions in American manufacturing from the colonial period to the mid-twentieth century. Primary emphasis on textiles and metalworking, with particular attention to the role of the machine tool industry in the American manufacturing economy. Students taking graduate version are expected to explore the material in greater depth.

STS.027[J] The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America: 1861-1890

Same subject as 21H.205[J] Subject meets with STS.427 Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Using the American Civil War as a baseline, considers what it means to become "modern" by exploring the war's material and manpower needs, associated key technologies, and how both influenced the United States' entrance into the age of "Big Business." Readings include material on steam transportation, telegraphic communications, arms production, naval innovation, food processing, medicine, public health, management methods, and the mass production of everything from underwear to uniforms – all essential ingredients of modernity. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

STS.028 Seven Wonders of the Engineering World

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Uses case studies to take a broad-ranging look at seven major engineering achievements in world history. Examines the nature of engineering as a source of knowledge production/application, how it reflects the cultural settings in which it emerges, and how it changes as it enters different cultural and economic settings. Includes weekly reflection papers. Achievements covered vary from term to term. Limited to 20.

STS.030 Forensic History: Problem Solving into the Past

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

Explores new pathways to use the latest science and technologies to understand the past. Working like detectives, students draw on research methods from such fields as climate science, geology, molecular biology, proteomics, DNA testing, carbon dating and big data analysis to invent their own forensic historical research techniques. They also study new narrative forms to accompany novel research techniques. Instruction and practice in oral and written communication provided. Enrollment limited.

STS.031[J] Environment and History

Same subject as 12.386[J] , 21H.185[J] Prereq: None U (Spring) Not offered regularly; consult department 3-0-9 units. HASS-S; CI-H

See description under subject 21H.185[J] . Enrollment limited.

K. Brown, S. Solomon

STS.032 Energy, Environment, and Society

Uses a problem-solving, multi-disciplinary, and multicultural approach that takes energy beyond the complex circuits, grids, and kilojoules to the realm of everyday life, with ordinary people as practitioners and producers of energy knowledge, infrastructures, and technologies. The three main objectives are to immerse students in the historical, cultural, multi-cultural, and entrepreneurial aspects of energy across the world to make them better energy engineers; to introduce them to research and analytical methods; and to deploy these methods and their various skills to solve/design a solution, in groups, to a specific energy problem chosen by the students. Each cohort tackles a different energy problem. Provides instruction on how to be active shapers of the world and to bring students' various disciplinary skills and cultural diversity into dialogue as conceptual tools for problem-solving. Enrollment limited.

C. Mavhunga

STS.033[J] People and the Planet: Environmental Histories and Engineering

Same subject as 11.004[J] Subject meets with 11.204[J] , IDS.524[J] Prereq: None U (Fall) Not offered regularly; consult department 3-3-6 units. HASS-E

See description under subject 11.004[J] .

A. Slocum, R. Scheffler, J. Trancik

STS.034 Science Communication: A Practical Guide

Prereq: None U (Spring) Not offered regularly; consult department 3-0-9 units. HASS-H; CI-H

Develops students' abilities to communicate science effectively in a variety of real-world contexts. Covers strategies for dealing with complex areas like theoretical physics, genomics and neuroscience, and addresses challenges in communicating about topics such as climate change and evolution. Projects focus on speaking and writing, being an expert witness, preparing briefings for policy-makers, writing blogs, giving live interviews for broadcast, and influencing public dialogue through opinion-editorials. Enrollment limited.

B. Venkataraman

STS.035 Exhibiting Science

Prereq: One CI-H/CI-HW subject and permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 2-2-8 units. HASS-A

Project-based seminar covers key topics in museum communication, including science learning in informal settings, the role of artifacts and interactives, and exhibit evaluation. Students work on a term-long project, organized around the design, fabrication, and installation of an original multimedia exhibit about current scientific research at MIT. Culminates with the project's installation in the MIT Museum's Mark Epstein Innovation Gallery. Limited to 20; preference to students who have taken STS.034 .

STS.036 Science in American Life: 1920-2020

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Assesses the place of science in American public life from the 1920s to the present. Takes a historically inflected approach to examine the social relations of science in the modern United States. Examines science and (in turn) religion, warfare, health, education, the environment, and human rights to explore how an international leader in science is also home to some of the developed world's most persistent forms of "science denialism." Examples include the denial of evolution, human-induced climate change, and particular medical-scientific aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

STS.038 Risky Business: Food Production, Environment, and Health (New)

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 2-1-9 units. HASS-H

Follows the shifts in food production between small-holder, local production to large-scale industries and back again to "localvore" food production in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tracks how people grew anxious about health risks associated with modern food over time. In a weekly lab, students build a compost production facility and/or a segment of a perennial food forest. Discusses food politics, food security and justice, food sustainability and safety, and first steps in growing one's own food. Limited to 25.

STS.040 A Global History of Commodities

Prereq: None U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H; CI-H

Inspires students to think about production chains in ways that reflect their impact on the environment, labor practices, and human health. Examines how commodities connect distant places through a chain of relationships, and link people, e.g., enslaved African producers with middle-class American consumers, and Asian factory workers with Europeans taking a holiday on the beach. Studies how mass production and mass demand for commodities, such as real estate, bananas, rubber, corn, and beef, in the 20th century changed the way people worked, lived, and saw themselves as they adopted new technologies to produce and consume in radically different ways from their parents and grandparents. Assignments include creation of a board game for buying and selling real estate in Boston, a two-minute mini-documentary, and an article on a commodity and country. Limited to 25.

STS.041 Exercise is Medicine: From Ancient Civilizations to Modern Health Care Systems (New)

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

Explores the history of exercise in preventing and curing physical and mental illness. Combines readings and discussion with experiential learning. Doing Yoga and Qigong alongside readings on Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine enables students to viscerally experience concepts in medical history such as prana and chi; activities including Pilates and High Intensity Interval Training deepen students' understanding of the challenges integrating scientific discovery into everyday life. Students who enroll in this class may receive both HASS-S credit for it and may enroll to earn two Physical Education and Wellness (PE&W) points.

J. S. Light

STS.042[J] Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century

Same subject as 8.225[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Explores the changing roles of physics and physicists during the 20th century. Topics range from relativity theory and quantum mechanics to high-energy physics and cosmology. Examines the development of modern physics within shifting institutional, cultural, and political contexts, such as physics in Imperial Britain, Nazi Germany, US efforts during World War II, and physicists' roles during the Cold War. Enrollment limited.

D. I. Kaiser

STS.043 Technology and Self: Science, Technology, and Memoir

Subject meets with STS.443 Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 2-0-7 units. HASS-S

Focuses on the memoir as a window onto the relationship of creative people (scientists, engineers, designers, and others) to their work. Examines how class, race, ethnicity, family history, and trauma shape the person who shapes artifacts, experiments, and ideas. Readings explore the connection between material culture, identity, and personal development. Offers the opportunity, if desired, to examine personal experiences and write memoir fragments. Students taking graduate version write a longer final paper. Limited to 15; no listeners.

STS.044 Technology and Self: Things and Thinking

Subject meets with STS.444 Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 2-0-7 units. HASS-S

Explores emotional and intellectual impact of objects. The growing literature on cognition and "things" cuts across anthropology, history, social theory, literature, sociology, and psychology and is of great relevance to science students. Examines the range of theories, from Mary Douglas in anthropology to D. W. Winnicott in psychoanalytic thinking, that underlies "thing" or "object" analysis. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited to 15; no listeners.

STS.046[J] The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender

Same subject as 21A.103[J] , WGS.225[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

See description under subject WGS.225[J] .

STS.047 Quantifying People: A History of Social Science

Historical examination of the quest to understand human society scientifically. Focuses on quantification, including its central role in the historical development of social science and its importance in the 21st-century data age. Covers the political arithmetic of the 17th century to the present. Emphasizes intensive reading of primary sources, which represent past attempts to count, calculate, measure, and model many dimensions of human social life (population, wealth, health, happiness, intelligence, crime, deviance, race). Limited to 25.

STS.048 African Americans in Science, Technology, and Medicine

Prereq: None U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

A survey of the contributions of African Americans to science, technology, and medicine from colonial times to the present. Explores the impact of concepts, trends, and developments in science, technology, and medicine on the lives of African Americans. Examples include the eugenics movement, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the debate surrounding racial inheritance, and IQ testing.

STS.049 The Long War Against Cancer

Examines anticancer efforts as a critical area for the formation of contemporary biomedical explanations for health and disease. Begins with the premise that the most significant implications of these efforts extend far beyond the success or failure of individual cancer therapies. Considers developments in the epidemiology, therapy, and politics of cancer. Uses the history of cancer to connect the history of biology and medicine to larger social and cultural developments, including those in bioethics, race, gender, activism, markets, and governance.

STS.050 The History of MIT

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Examines the history of MIT, from its founding to the present, through the lens of the history of science and technology. Topics include William Barton Rogers; the modern research university and educational philosophy; campus, intellectual, and organizational development; changing laboratories and practices; MIT's relationship with Boston, the federal government, and industry; and notable activities and achievements of students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Includes guest lecturers, on-campus field trips, and interactive exercises. Enrollment limited.

STS.051[J] Documenting MIT Communities

Same subject as 4.626[J] Prereq: None U (Spring) 2-0-7 units. HASS-H

Researches the history and culture of an MIT community to contribute to its documentation and preservation. Through the practice of doing original research, students learn about the history of an MIT community. Provides instruction in the methods historians use to document the past, as well as methods from related fields.

STS.053 Multidisciplinary Interactive Learning Through Problem-Solving

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-E

Interdisciplinary problem-solving at the intersection of humanities, science, engineering, and business. Team-taught face-to-face classes at multiple US and African universities connected live via Zoom. Divided into four sections/assessments: US and African histories, cultures, politics, and development relations; HASS as a problem-solving tool; STEM applications to real-life problem-solving; and introduction to summer field-class sites or exchange programs. Goal is to equip students with skills for team-based trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural problem-solving.

C. C. Mavhunga

STS.055[J] Living Dangerously: Environmental Problems from 1900 to Today

Same subject as 12.384[J] Prereq: None U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H; CI-H

See description under subject 12.384[J] . Limited to 18.

S. Solomon, K. Brown

STS.060[J] The Anthropology of Biology

Same subject as 21A.303[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

See description under subject 21A.303[J] .

S. Helmreich

STS.064[J] DV Lab: Documenting Science through Video and New Media

Same subject as 21A.550[J] Subject meets with 21A.559 Prereq: None U (Spring) 3-3-6 units. HASS-A; CI-H

See description under subject 21A.550[J] . Limited to 12.

C. Walley, C. Boebel

STS.065[J] The Anthropology of Sound

Same subject as 21A.505[J] Prereq: None U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

See description under subject 21A.505[J] .

STS.074[J] Art, Craft, Science

Same subject as 21A.501[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S Credit cannot also be received for 21A.509[J] , STS.474[J]

See description under subject 21A.501[J] .

STS.075[J] Technology and Culture

Same subject as 21A.500[J] Prereq: None U (Fall, Spring) 2-0-7 units. HASS-S

See description under subject 21A.500[J] . Limited to 50.

STS.080[J] Youth Political Participation

Same subject as 11.151[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-H

Surveys youth political participation in the US since the early 1800s. Investigates trends in youth political activism during specific historical periods, as well as what difference youth media production and technology use (e.g., radio, music, automobiles, ready-made clothing) made in determining the course of events. Explores what is truly new about "new media" and reviews lessons from history for present-day activists based on patterns of past failure and success. Some mandatory field trips may occur during class time. Limited to 40.

STS.081[J] Innovation Systems for Science, Technology, Energy, Manufacturing, and Health

Same subject as 17.395[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 2-0-7 units. HASS-S

Examines science and technology innovation systems, including case studies on energy, computing, advanced manufacturing, and health sectors. Emphasizes public policy and the federal government's role in that system. Focuses on the US but uses international examples. Reviews foundations of economic growth theory, innovation systems theory, and the basic approaches to science and technology policy. Explores the organization and role of energy and medical science R&D agencies, as well as gaps in those innovation systems. Also addresses the science and technology talent base as a factor in growth, and educational approaches to better support it. Class meets for nine weeks; in the remaining weeks, students work on a final paper due at the end of the term. Limited to 25.

W. B. Bonvillian

STS.082[J] Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Same subject as 17.309[J] , IDS.055[J] Prereq: None U (Spring) Not offered regularly; consult department 4-0-8 units. HASS-S; CI-H Credit cannot also be received for 17.310[J] , IDS.412[J] , STS.482[J]

See description under subject 17.309[J] .

K. Oye, N. Selin

STS.083 Computers and Social Change

Provides instruction on how people have historically connected computers to ideas on social, economic, and political change and how these ideas have changed over time. Based on a series of case studies from different parts of the world. Explores topics such as how computers have intertwined with ideas on work, freedom, governance, and access to knowledge. Limited to 25.

STS.084[J] Social Problems of Nuclear Energy

Same subject as 22.04[J] Prereq: None U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

See description under subject 22.04[J] . Limited to 18.

STS.085[J] Foundations of Information Policy

Same subject as 6.4590[J] Subject meets with STS.487 Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: U (Fall) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

See description under subject 6.4590[J] . Enrollment limited.

H. Abelson, M. Fischer, D. Weitzner

STS.086[J] Cultures of Computing

Same subject as 21A.504[J] , WGS.276[J] Prereq: None U (Spring) 3-0-9 units. HASS-S

See description under subject 21A.504[J] .

STS.087 Biography in Science

An examination of biography as a literary genre to be employed in the history of science. The use of biography in different historical periods to illuminate aspects of the development of science. A critical analysis of autobiography, archival sources, and the oral tradition as materials in the construction of biographies of scientists. Published biographies of scientists constitute the major reading, but attention is given to unpublished biographical sources as well. Comparison is drawn between biography as a literary form in the history of science and in other disciplines.

STS.088 Africa for Engineers

Covers historical, cultural, and ethical dimensions of engineering in Africa. Focuses on construction of big projects like cities, hydroelectricity dams, roads, railway lines, ports and harbors, transport and communication, mines, industrial processing plant, and plantations. Explores the contributions of big capital, engineers, politicians, and ordinary people. Emphasizes how local culture, politics, labor, and knowledge affect engineering. Also focuses on environmental and cultural impact assessment. Prepares students who wish to work or study in Africa and the Global South. Enrollment limited.

STS.095, STS.096 Independent Study in Science, Technology, and Society

Prereq: None U (Fall, IAP, Spring) Units arranged [P/D/F] Can be repeated for credit.

For students who wish to pursue special studies or projects with a member of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. STS.095 is letter-graded; STS.096 is P/D/F.

Special Subjects

Sts.s20, sts.s21 special subject: science, technology and society.

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: U (IAP) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

Addresses subject matter in Science, Technology and Society that is not offered in the regular curriculum.

STS.UR Undergraduate Research

Prereq: None U (Fall, IAP, Spring, Summer) Units arranged [P/D/F] Can be repeated for credit.

Undergraduate research opportunities in the STS Program.

STS.URG Undergraduate Research

Prereq: None U (Fall, IAP, Spring, Summer) Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

STS.THT Undergraduate Thesis Tutorial

Prereq: None U (Fall, Spring) Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

Definition and early-stage work on thesis project leading to STS.THU . Taken during first term of student's two-term commitment to thesis project. Student works closely with STS faculty tutor. Required of all candidates for an STS degree.

Prereq: STS.THT U (Fall, IAP, Spring, Summer) Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

Completion of work of the senior major thesis under the supervision of a faculty tutor. Includes gathering materials, preparing draft chapters, giving an oral presentation of thesis progress to faculty evaluators early in the term, and writing and revising the final text. Students meet at the end of the term with faculty evaluators to discuss the successes and limitations of the project. Required of all candidates for an STS degree.

Graduate Subjects

Required introductory subjects, sts.250[j] social theory and analysis.

Same subject as 21A.859[J] Prereq: None G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

See description under subject 21A.859[J] .

STS.260 Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society

Prereq: None G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

Intensive reading and analysis of major works in historical and social studies of science and technology. Introduction to current methodological approaches, centered around two primary questions: how have science and technology evolved as human activities, and what roles do they play in society? Preparation for graduate work in the field of science and technology studies and introduction to research resources and professional standards.

Advanced Seminars

Sts.310 history of science.

Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

Intensive reading and analysis of key works in the history and historiography of science. Introduces students to basic interpretive issues, bibliographic sources, and professional standards. Topics change from year to year.

STS.320[J] Environmental Conflict

Same subject as 21A.429[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

Explores the complex interrelationships among humans and natural environments, focusing on non-western parts of the world in addition to Europe and the United States. Use of environmental conflict to draw attention to competing understandings and uses of "nature" as well as the local, national and transnational power relationships in which environmental interactions are embedded. In addition to utilizing a range of theoretical perspectives, subject draws upon a series of ethnographic case studies of environmental conflicts in various parts of the world.

STS.330[J] History and Anthropology of Medicine and Biology

Same subject as 21A.319[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

See description under subject 21A.319[J] .

STS.340 Introduction to the History of Technology

Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

Introduction to the consideration of technology as the outcome of particular technical, historical, cultural, and political efforts, especially in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include industrialization of production and consumption, development of engineering professions, the emergence of management and its role in shaping technological forms, the technological construction of gender roles, and the relationship between humans and machines.

M. R. Smith, D. Mindell

STS.360[J] Ethnography

Same subject as 21A.829[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

Practicum style course introduces students to ethnographic methods and writing in global health research. Organized around interviewing and observational assignments. Students develop a bibliography of  anthropological and ethnographic writing relevant to their project, and write a short paper about integrating ethnographic methods into a future research project. Preference to HASTS students; open to others with permission of instructor.

STS.412 Quantification

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

Surveys research on quantification, the practice of using numerical data and calculation to analyze, order, and control. Begins by examining historical accounts of the rise of quantitative methods and values since c. 1600. Goes on to explore the dynamics and consequences of quantification across a range of modern domains, including science, politics, governance, health, education, crime, law, economic development, finance, and environmental regulation. Readings drawn from STS, history, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy.

STS.414[J] Risk, Fortune, and Futurity

Same subject as 21H.984[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

See description under subject 21H.984[J] . Open to undergraduates with permission of instructor; consult department for details.

W. Deringer, C. Horan

STS.417 STS Seminar on the Global South

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: G (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units

Covers Africa and its diaspora, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Asia, and Oceania. Seeks to explore meanings of science and technology from traditions, experiences, and literatures of these regions; to understand encounters and outcomes of endogenous and inbound ideas, artifacts, and practice; and to engage European and North American science, technology, and society (STS) in dialogue with these literatures. Provides a global view of STS in an increasingly interconnected world. Focuses on peoples of the Global South as innovative intellectual agents, not just victims of technology or its appropriators.

STS.419 Global STS: Ethnography, Literature, and Film

Going beyond issues of brain drain and brain circulation, explores how contemporary science and technology innovations look from, and are being created in, parts of the world other than the US and Europe. Uses films, novels, and artworks to think across disciplinary boundaries and the impact of science and technology on social worlds (as well as the social worlds of scientists and engineers). Open to upperclassmen with permission of instructor.

STS.421 Graduate Super-Seminar on Global South Cosmologies and Epistemologies

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

Team-taught subject that centers Global South cosmologies and epistemologies marginalized by colonization, slavery, and racism across the world. Explores how different societies make sense of and develop knowledges of the physical and animate world, and what it means to be human(e) within it. Opens up trans-hemispheric conversations between constituencies that seldom talk to each other, each bringing its ways of seeing, thinking, knowing, and doing to the matrix to mutually inform one another. Goal is to build qualitative — not just quantitative — diversity (i.e., diversity as method of learning and thinking).

STS.424[J] Race, History, and the Built Environment

Same subject as 11.244[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

See description under subject 11.244[J] . Limited to 14 students.

Erica James

STS.425 History of Manufacturing in America

Subject meets with STS.026 Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

STS.427 The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America: 1861-1890

Subject meets with 21H.205[J] , STS.027[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

STS.430 Multi-Species Histories of Plant People, Wild and Cultivated

Examines how centering plants changes our understanding of what it means to be human. Considers how, in response to the naming of the Anthropocene and anxieties over ecological crises, researchers in various fields have turned to plants as central players. Using this as a starting point, explores how researchers have described and re-calibrated relations among plants, humans, and environment, between life and non-life, action and being, subjectivity and autonomy in ways that radically altered ruling epistemologies in a range of disciplines. Looks at how philosophers, farmers, foresters, eco-critics, geographers, botanists, and popular science writers adapted research questions and narratives to incorporate not only plant uses, but plant intelligence and sentience.

STS.432[J] Narrating the Anthropocene: Understanding a Multi-Species Universe (New)

Same subject as 21H.990[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: G (Fall) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units

Examines human concern about the planet and how that fixation shapes concepts of time & space, knowledge-production, understandings of what it means to be human and non-human, as well as trends in scholarship, art, culture & politics. Indexes the way numerous actors and institutions came to understand, debate & narrate the Anthropocene, a geological epoch defined by human-induced climate change. Explores how it as a concept has opened up new ways of understanding relations within the planet, including care, accountability & multi-species mutualism. Considers narrative registers as well, how scholars, writers, artists & working people narrate the Anthropocene. Students undertake an original project in research &/or experimental narrative forms inspired by the reading. Limited to 12.

K. Brown, M. Black

STS.436 Cold War Science

Examines the history and legacy of the Cold War on science and the environment in the US and the world. Explores scientists' new political roles after World War II, ranging from elite policy makers in the nuclear age to victims of domestic anti-Communism. Also examines the changing institutions in which various scientific fields were conducted during the postwar decades, investigating possible epistemic effects on forms of knowledge. Subject closes by considering the places of science in the US during the post-Cold War era.

K. Brown, D. I. Kaiser

STS.441 Technology and Self: Technology and Conversation

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 2-0-10 units

Explores the relationship between technology and conversation, with an emphasis on conversation in our digital age when so many say they would rather text than talk. Topics center on the psychology of online life, such as the way in which we both share and withhold information about the self. Discussion about the ways new kinds of online conversation are playing out in education, the workplace, and in families and what the changes in conversation mean for collaboration, innovation, and leadership. Readings include works in history, literature, anthropology, psychology, and linguistics. Open to undergraduates by permission of instructor. Limited to 15; no listeners.

STS.443 Technology and Self: Science, Technology, and Memoir

Subject meets with STS.043 Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 2-0-7 units

STS.444 Technology and Self: Things and Thinking

Subject meets with STS.044 Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: G (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 2-0-7 units

Explores emotional and intellectual impact of objects. The growing literature on cognition and “things” cuts across anthropology, history, social theory, literature, sociology, and psychology and is of great relevance to science students. Examines the range of theories, from Mary Douglas in anthropology to D.W. Winnicott in psychoanalytic thinking, that underlies “thing” or “object” analysis. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Limited to 15; no listeners.

STS.454 Museums, Science and Technology

Examines science, technology and museums. Includes regular readings and discussions about the evolution of museums of science and technology from (roughly) 1800 to the present. Students undertake special projects linked to the MIT Museum's re-location to a new building under construction in Kendall Square. Students act as informal consultants to the MIT Museum, offering proposals for innovative elements that will be seriously considered for inclusion in the new Museum.

STS.458 Science, Technology, and Human Rights

Explores the relationship of science and technology to ideas about human rights over time, including how science and technology have been mobilized historically in the defense of human rights and to assist in the pursuit of truth and justice after atrocity. Discusses literature in history, anthropology, law, and related fields to address how science and technology have historically shaped understandings of human rights and the ways that human rights frameworks have shaped the creation and use of scientific and technological capabilities.

STS.461 History and Social Study of Computing

Examines the history and social study of computers. Introduces students to the core and canonical literature in this area while also providing the opportunity to read and discuss more recent works from multiple disciplines.      

STS.462 Social and Political Implications of Technology

Historical and contemporary studies are used to explore the interaction of technology with social and political values. Emphasis on how technological devices, structures, and systems influence the organization of society and the behavior of its members. Examples drawn from the technologies of war, transportation, communication, production, and reproduction.

STS.463[J] Technocracy

Same subject as 11.461[J] Prereq: None G (Fall) Not offered regularly; consult department 3-0-9 units

Survey of the history of efforts to apply scientific methods and technological tools to solve social and political problems, with a focus on the United States since 1850. Topics include: city planning, natural resource management, public education, economic development, quantification and modeling in the social and policy sciences, technology transfer, and political economies of expertise.

STS.464 Computing from the Global South

Examines the rise and development of computing technologies in the global south. Surveys the effects of decolonization in the mid-twentieth century on the imagination of computational technologies in places such as South America, Africa, and Asia. Covers the failures and defeats of postcolonial projects when faced with the challenge of asymmetric access to global markets and capital. Identifies contemporary forms of resistance and imaginations of innovation that still endure and flourish in the global south, challenging perspectives from the global north.

STS.465[J] Research Seminar on Technology and the Work of the Future

Same subject as 11.652[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

Examines the past, present and future of work from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing from the humanities, social sciences, and cognitive science and engineering. Integrates perspectives from history, philosophy, sociology, economics, management, political science, brain and cognitive science and other relevant literatures, creating a solid foundation from which to interpret current public discourse on the subject. Discussion focuses primarily on the US; comparative perspectives from other countries incorporated into discussions and analysis. Limited to 15.

D. Mindell, E. B. Reynolds

STS.467[J] The History of Aviation

Same subject as 16.707[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Spring) 3-0-9 units

Reading course in the history of aviation, focusing on science and technology and cultural and political context. Themes include: the science of aeronautics, pilots and piloting, control systems and electronics, engineering epistemology, infrastructure, industry, government and politics, evolution of aeronautics research, culture and experience, automation and autonomy, role of MIT, literature and film. Case studies of specific systems and engineering projects. Emphasis is on book-length texts, close reading, historical methods of analyzing technological change. Study of social and political dimensions of engineering projects, examination of aviation institutions. Students prepare weekly response papers to readings, make extended presentations to class twice per semester, and submit a final research paper.

STS.468[J] Entrepreneurship in Aerospace and Mobility Systems

Same subject as 16.445[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

See description under subject 16.445[J] .

D. A. Mindell

STS.471[J] Engineering Apollo: The Moon Project as a Complex System

Same subject as 16.895[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: G (Fall) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 4-0-8 units

Detailed technical and historical exploration of the Apollo project to fly humans to the moon and return them safely to Earth as an example of a complex engineering system. Emphasizes how the systems worked, the technical and social processes that produced them, mission operations, and historical significance. Guest lectures by MIT-affiliated engineers who contributed to and participated in the Apollo missions. Students work in teams on a final project analyzing an aspect of the historical project to articulate and synthesize ideas in engineering systems.

STS.474[J] Art, Craft, Science

Same subject as 21A.509[J] Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units Credit cannot also be received for 21A.501[J] , STS.074[J]

See description under subject 21A.509[J] .

STS.477[J] Writing: Science, Technology, and Society

Same subject as 21W.820[J] Prereq: 21H.991 Acad Year 2023-2024: G (Spring) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered 3-0-9 units

Examination of different "voices" used to consider issues of scientific, technological, and social concern. Students write frequently and choose among a variety of non-fiction forms: historical writing, social analysis, political criticism, and policy reports. Instruction in expressing ideas clearly and in organizing a thesis-length work. Reading and writing on three case studies drawn from the history of science; the cultural study of technology and science; and policy issues.

STS.482[J] Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Same subject as 17.310[J] , IDS.412[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor G (Spring) Not offered regularly; consult department 4-0-8 units Credit cannot also be received for 17.309[J] , IDS.055[J] , STS.082[J]

See description under subject 17.310[J] .

STS.487 Foundations of Information Policy

Subject meets with 6.4590[J] , STS.085[J] Prereq: Permission of instructor Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) 3-0-9 units

Studies the growth of computer and communications technology and the new legal and ethical challenges that reflect tensions between individual rights and societal needs. Topics include computer crime; intellectual property restrictions on software; encryption, privacy, and national security; academic freedom and free speech. Students meet and question technologists, activists, law enforcement agents, journalists, and legal experts. Instruction and practice in oral and written communication provided. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Enrollment limited.

H. Abelson, R. David Edelman, M. Fischer, D. Weitzner

STS.S91 Special Subject: Science, Technology and Society

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: G (Fall) Acad Year 2024-2025: Not offered Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

Addresses a special topic in Science, Technology and Society which is not offered in the regular curriculum.

STS.S92 Special Subject: Science, Technology and Society

Prereq: None Acad Year 2023-2024: Not offered Acad Year 2024-2025: G (Fall) Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

Research and Teaching

Sts.800 teaching science, technology and society.

Prereq: None G (Fall, Spring) Units arranged [P/D/F] Can be repeated for credit.

For qualified graduate students serving as either a teaching assistant or instructor for subjects in Science, Technology and Society (STS). Enrollment limited by availability of suitable teaching assignments.

STS.840 HASTS Professional Perspective

Prereq: Permission of advisor G (Fall, IAP, Spring, Summer) 0-1-0 units

Required for doctoral students in the doctoral program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) to explore and gain professional perspective through academic, non-profit, government, or industry experiences. Professional perspective options include, but are not limited to, internships, teacher training, professional development for entry into academia, or public academic engagement. For an internship experience, an offer from a company or organization is required prior to enrollment. A written narrative or report is required upon completion of the experience. Proposals subject to departmental approval in consultation with advisor.

STS.850 Practical Experience in HASTS Fields

Prereq: None G (Fall, IAP, Spring, Summer) Units arranged [P/D/F] Can be repeated for credit.

For HASTS students participating in curriculum-related off-campus professional internship experiences. Before registering for this subject, students must have an offer letter from a company or organization and must receive written prior approval from their advisor.  Upon completion of the experience, students must submit a substantive final report, approved by their advisor.  Subject to departmental approval. Consult departmental graduate office. Permission of advisor.

STS.880 Proposal Writing in HASTS

Prereq: Permission of instructor G (Fall, Spring) Units arranged [P/D/F] Can be repeated for credit.

For students in the doctoral program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) who are working on their dissertation proposal and/or research grant proposal program requirement. Work is done in consultation with the student's advisor, in accordance with the guidelines in the HASTS Student Handbook. Restricted to HASTS PhD students.

STS.901-STS.904 Independent Study in Science, Technology, and Society

Prereq: Permission of instructor G (Fall, Spring) Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

For students who wish to pursue special studies or projects at an advanced level with a faculty member of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

STS.THG Graduate Thesis

Prereq: Permission of instructor G (Fall, IAP, Spring, Summer) Units arranged Can be repeated for credit.

Program of graduate research leading to the writing of a PhD thesis, to be arranged by the student with an appropriate MIT faculty member, who is the thesis supervisor.

MIT Academic Bulletin

Print this page.

The PDF includes all information on this page and its related tabs. Subject (course) information includes any changes approved for the current academic year.

  • Understanding the Intersection between Science, Technology, and Society

what is science technology and society essay brainly

Featured in:

what is science technology and society essay brainly

Just two hundred years ago the world looked so different. The majority of people’s lives was driven by the tangible. Science was considered mostly an academic notion and it was raising questions that bothered the minds of few.

Technology used to be mainly in the hands of the governments and it was used to benefit the lives of people, in a way much different than it does today. And to a way lesser extent.

Just thirty years ago if anyone had seen a person holding a device with the features of today’s latest iPhone, they could easily be mistaken for a magician or… an alien.

Today we are so used to living with technology. Most of us are surrounded by smart devices, travel in futuristic vehicles. We read every day about the latest breakthrough of science and share our opinions over social media…

Elon Musk sent a Tesla into space…

We rarely stop to think how we became this way. Do we affect science and technology or do they affect us? How do we keep the balance? Is there a place for morals when science and technology show us the ‘right‘ way?


The intersection between science, technology, and society (STS) is an academic discipline that studies how society and culture create science and how science affects society in return.

As an academic concept of a new generation, it is considered to be an interdisciplinary subject and has been given multiple interpretations by various schools of thought.

Several major universities have STS programs.

Harvard’s program

In Harvard University, the program is considered to unite two major streams of scholarship. S&T (Science and technology) and Society.

‘Studies in this genre approach S&T as social institutions possessing distinctive structures, commitments, practices, and discourses that vary across cultures and change over time.

This line of work addresses questions like the  following: is there a scientific method; what makes scientific facts credible; how do new disciplines emerge; and how does science relate to religion?’

And then the program would consider the questions of control over science and technology – is it needed, and where would the boundaries sit? They would try to identify the risks S&T may present to ‘peace, security, community, democracy, environmental sustainability, and human values’.

They would consider the questions of:

  • ‘How should the states set priorities for research funding?’
  • ‘Who should participate in technological decision-making and how?’
  • ‘Can and should life forms be patented?’
  • ‘How should societies measure risks and set safety standards?’
  • ‘Should experts communicate the reasons for their judgments to the public and how?’

Cornell’s program

In Cornell, similarly to Harvard, the science is considered to be a unity between the fields of S&T and its social dimensions. The program is focusing on studying how knowledge and technology happen within the context of the society, both today and in the retrospect of history.

They study the progress of knowledge from its conception, its transfer, and its transformation caused by societal relations. The way people interact with scientific knowledge – when they use it and when they identify a conflict with it.

When science clashes with the societal norms, where does it fit?

MIT’s program

According to MIT, the academic discipline of STS should try and bring more understanding to the human-built world.

A world, where science and technology are no longer constricted to the lab. They have penetrated our everyday lives and they cannot be contained in a separate field.

They affect, and are intertwined, with nature, culture, and history.

Berkeley’s program

At Berkeley, STS is considered to be a multidisciplinary field, dedicated to studying the creation of knowledge, the progress and the results that scientific and technological knowledge produce in other fields. They put greater focus on the way knowledge is created today.

On ‘cutting-edge theoretical and conceptual inquiry, and engagement with public policy.’ Berkeley proudly quote STS as a science of a new generation.

Stanford’s program

In Stanford, the program is considered an interdisciplinary science, with the only program that can offer both a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree. It is considered to have a large scope, including concepts from:

  • Anthropology
  • Communication
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Management Science and Engineering
  • Political Science and Sociology

Princeton’s program

In Princeton, the program focuses on the cause-and-effect relationship between society and technology. Technology is created by humanity, and comes back to change the way humanity develops. It is a cycle between the possible and the needed.

It is a program for engineers and scientists but also for humanists and social-scientists who want to explore the ‘shaping,  development and deployment of technological solutions for the benefit of  society.’


In this section we will give you four historic and scientific examples of the way science, technology and society influenced each other to create complex issues, that fall in the subject of STS.

Where there was a conflict between science, technology and society.

The case of Ford Pinto

Pinto is a Ford model, manufactured and sold by the Ford Motor Company in the United States in the 1070s. It was marketed as the smallest Ford vehicle in The States since 1907, and it was supposed to be the first subcompact vehicle manufactured by the company in the country.

The decisions involved in the model’s design spark a controversy, unheard of until this day. The issue involved mainly the design of the fuel system, and in particular, the placement of the fuel tank.

To begin with, the Pinto was developed in a time of confusion caused by changes in standards for safety. Ford only opted for the 20 mph moving-barrier standard up until 1973, instead of the more stringent new 30 mph moving-barrier standard and they objected to the new regulations.

Next, the fuel tank of the Pinto was fit between the rear axle and the rear bumper by design, in order to comply with the standard design for subcompact cars.

That position of the fuel tank would prove to be detrimental in high speed collision, when fuel leakage was caused, in some cases leading, tragically, to explosions killing the passengers. To make things worse, the rear was lacking structural reinforcement. The rear bumper was called ‘essentially ornamental’.

Early crash tests of Ford models showed the vulnerability even at low speed clashes. Several proposals had been put forward by engineers to introduce changes to the design and make the vehicle safer, however, no ‘proven’ solutions had been reported. The crash results had been tagged ‘inconclusive’.

In 1973, Ford’s Environmental and Safety Engineering division came up with a cost-benefit analysis called ‘Fatalities Associated with Crash Induced Fuel Leakage and Fires’ and later became known as the ‘Pinto Memo’. (The report has later become public because of the lawsuit against Ford ) The report was required by the NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) in order to consider Ford’s objection to the more strict 30 mph moving-barrier safety standard. The report was created as per the safety evaluation standards of the NHTSA.

This is what the famous Mother Jones article, the ‘Pinto Madness ’ has to say about the Pinto Memo:

‘Ever wonder what your life is worth in dollars? Perhaps $10 million? Ford has a better idea: $200,000… In order to be able to argue that various safety costs were greater than their benefits, Ford needed to have a dollar value figure for the “benefit.” Rather than be so uncouth as to come up with such a price tag itself, the auto industry pressured the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to do so. And in a 1972 report the agency decided a human life was worth $200,725…[later] rounded off to a cleaner $200,000, in an internal Ford memorandum…

This cost-benefit analysis argued that Ford should not make an $11-per-car improvement that would prevent 180 fiery deaths a year… The memo argues that there is no financial benefit in complying with proposed safety standards that would admittedly result in fewer auto fires, fewer burn deaths and fewer burn injuries… ’

1974, the NHTSA was petitioned by the Center for Auto Safety petitioned to recall Ford Pintos because of their faulty fuel system design that has allegedly resulted in three deaths and four serious injuries in rear-end collisions at moderate speeds.

The NHTSA concluded:

‘1971–1976 Ford Pintos have experienced moderate speed, rear-end collisions that have resulted in fuel tank damage, fuel leakage, and fire occurrences that have resulted in fatalities and non-fatal burn injuries … The fuel tank design and structural characteristics of the 1975–1976 Mercury Bobcat which render it identical to contemporary Pinto vehicles, also render it subject to like consequences in rear impact collisions.’

Ford proceeded to voluntarily recall the Pinto vehicles in advance to the NHTSA publishing an official order for it, fearing additional damage to the company’s public reputation. Ford recalled 1.5 million cars from the Ford Pinto model and the Mercury Bobcat.

The recall would become the largest recall in automotive history at the time. Ford would never admit the fault in the fuel system. Rather, they would claim the recall was done to ’end public concern that has resulted from criticism of the fuel systems in these vehicles.’

More than a hundred lawsuits were brought against the company in result of the accumulated rear-end accidents of the Pinto model.

There you have it. Our first case of intersection between science, technology and society. It is a claim that brought up several important questions to society:

  • Can there ever be a price put on a human’s life?
  • Are there companies that are doing the same in a less public way today?
  • How much safety is enough safety?
  • With Big Data , we may have a way to calculate the investments in safety measures, and cross-check with the risks, resulting in a comparative analysis of how much each public company values human life. Should we publish those findings, even if we do not have proof of ill intentions?
  • Were Ford justified in their actions because they have calculations and prices to pursue?

The case of social media and privacy

Social media have become intertwined with our everyday lives. We use it to text, post our photos, our statuses, share lifetime events, such as taking your driver’s license exam, or giving birth.

We use it to find, share and comment news. To educate ourselves. To take surveys, to get information. To listen to or create music. To consume or produce videos. We use it to make business connections and network. To apply for jobs and research employers.

We know we benefit. And we are not balanced in our opinions of the gains and the cost. We may think about our privacy but we don’t think much before we sacrifice it for entertainment. And we rarely even consider the risks on our personal security.

In the age of data mining, advanced analysis of human conduct in interpersonal organizations can be performed without breaching private information. Yet social media rarely take measures to safeguard the user. Protection is extremely scrutinized.

And individuals are very eager to forego some privacy and expose themselves to an adequate level of danger.

Statistics tell us that users are most cautious about their use of Facebook. As the most scrutinized social network in the news, they also provide the most ways for protection:

  • Restrict the visibility of the active users
  • Set the control on how others can find you
  • Block the users for their photo tag
  • Set login Alerts
  • Block Spam Users
  • Control who can message you

But not all popular social networks follow suit. None of the three, Twitter, LinkedIn, nor Google+ offer the same options for protection.

Users who do not protect their profiles leave themselves exposed to various attacks:

  • Privacy Breach
  • Passive Attacks
  • Active Attacks

Privacy concerns are very weak in society and the methods provided by social media to conquer those are ineffective. A user’s attempts to take measures about keeping their social media privacy is considerably lower than other types of security operations within the company.

Moreover, the majority of social media users are not educated about the risks of exposing their private data in social media, and the social media companies are not taking the appropriate measures to educate them or to make privacy management adequately easy or understandable.

Multiple shortcomings and setbacks can be identified on the technical side of privacy and safety measures.

It is obvious that some policies that can be enforced, aren’t. Even though social media companies realize the benefits of those for security, they do the cross-analysis with convenience for the users and consciously take the choice NOT to force them to:

  • Use a strong password
  • Changing passwords often
  • Require antivirus or related software
  • Keeping up with high security measures

And there you have our second case of intersection between science, technology and society. Here, we can also distill several important questions:

  • Are social media networks doing a cross-analysis between convenience and security?
  • Should social media networks be forced to impose the rules of higher security or should they keep the convenience to the user?
  • Should social media networks work harder to inform the user of the security risks even if it is damaging to their business?
  • Are they the best actors to perform that education?

The case of technology affecting politics

Or in other words, the case of Cambridge Analytica.

In line with the previous case, it is once again a matter of data and social networks. But this time we are looking at the way an, at first glance, legitimate technology has come to sway an election in the most powerful democracy on Planet Earth.

March 2018. A whistleblower reports to The Observer that Cambridge Analytica, a company owned by Robert Mercer, and headed by Steve Bannon, has had unauthorized access to the personal information of millions of Facebook users, and used that access to sway the public opinion towards the, then, candidate for the president, Donald Trump, back in 2014.

‘We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.’ – says Christopher Wylie.

The data was collected via an app, called this is your digital life. Hundreds of thousands of users were profiting by the app, taking a personality test and submitting an agreement for their data to be collected for academic use.

That permission, of course, was overstepped. The app also collected data from the social media profiles of its users’ friends, exploiting a vulnerability in Facebook’s security policy and exponentially growing its reach to tens of millions of people.

The scandal is an example of unprecedented data harvesting, and it raises valid questions about the role Facebook and other social media may have on serious political events such as the US presidential election. Moreover, it comes only weeks after indictments of thirteen Russian nationals by Robert Mueller with accusations they used the platform to ‘perpetrate “information warfare” against the US.’

The whistleblower had collected a dossier with proof of the data harvesting from back in 2014 and presented it to the authorities. The documents contained a letter from Facebook from 2016 acknowledging the network was aware of the issue. A lawyer, representing the network was asking Cambridge Analytica to immediately delete the data they had acquired without authorization.

Cambridge Analytica had spent nearly a million dollars to collect the data.

‘The algorithm and database together made a powerful political tool. It allowed a campaign to identify possible swing voters and craft messages more likely to resonate.’

And there you have our third case of intersection between science, technology and society. Our questions:

  • If big data analysis can be used to sway public opinions in democratic elections, should any attempts be done to restrict the technology?
  • If Cambridge Analytica was used to sway public opinion, but not to directly affect the votes, should they face any legal issues whatsoever?
  • Can we put a price on any of the two – fair elections and technological progress? And is there any way to compare their value for our life today?

See how The Observer’s whistleblower answers those questions:

The case of Genetic engineering

The last case we will review will have a more humble representation in our article, because it has, so far, not been related to any public scandals.

Is genetic engineering moral? If we look in retrospect, we can start the answer by saying so far it has been mostly beneficial.

It involves directly manipulating the genes of a given organism. While humanity has long been using another form of manipulation, selective breeding, being able to modify or mutate a given gene or DNA at will, speeds up the process significantly.

Those experiments so far have not been reported to bring along significantly unwanted results and at the same time they have considerably contributed to scientific discoveries about how DNA works.

With great power comes great responsibility, however. There is a case to be made against genetic engineering of humans. The ability to improve our DNA is followed by the shadow of eugenics.

If we are capable of ‘producing’ better humans, would that raise questions about disposing of the worse, faulty ones? Creating artificial, objective superiority is a dangerous science.

And there you have our fourth case of intersection between science, technology and society. Our questions:

  • If we are capable of producing a generation without cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis and disabilities, isn’t it our responsibility to do so, and spare future children from the suffering of disease?
  • And on the other hand, can we afford the risk to dive into the unknown and leave as a legacy to our next generation to sort through the conflict between the ‘superior’ and the ‘inferior’ – a conflict we, as a society, have proven multiple times to be too immature to handle?

Whether we like it or not, science and technology are here to stay. And it is not a good idea to try to constrict them or hinder them.

We need the future, we need the Internet of things. We want our devices to be interconnected and to help us in our lives and to make them easier. And we want technology to penetrate the health industry. We need that direly.

This is where the need of studying STS is most obvious. Someone must ask the difficult questions. And prepare the society for the heavy moral dilemmas and risks that come with progress.

Only time can tell if STS will be a fruitless attempt to put thought in our natural progress that will eventually disintegrate our society and kill us, or it will prepare the society and help it mature for a future without conflict between humanity and technology.

what is science technology and society essay brainly

Comments are closed.

Related posts

The Death of the 9-to-5: Why We’ll All Work Flex Schedules Soon

For the last two years, my friend Mike has worked as a content writer for a digital advertising …

Product Beta Testing & Market Testing

When a company sets out to design and develop a new product, a step by step process is usually …

Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns: Definition, Explanation and Examples

If you were a farmer, how would you determine the optimum number of farmhands to employ, or the …

408,000 + job opportunities

what is science technology and society essay brainly

Not yet a member? Sign Up

join cleverism

Find your dream job. Get on promotion fasstrack and increase tour lifetime salary.

Post your jobs & get access to millions of ambitious, well-educated talents that are going the extra mile.

First name*

Company name*

Company Website*

E-mail (work)*

Login or Register

Password reset instructions will be sent to your E-mail.

Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Penn Calendar

Search form

History and sociology of science.

Penn Arts & Sciences Logo


Welcome to science, technology and society.

Thank you for your interest in STSC! Please explore our site to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how you can get involved in our exciting program!

Upcoming Events

About science, technology and society (stsc).

Science, Technology & Society (STSC) examines the social contexts and consequences of science and technology. In a wide array of courses, STSC students learn to think critically about questions such as: Why does modern science look the way it does? How and why do particular technologies and technological systems emerge, expand and become obsolete? How do science and technology sometimes exacerbate race, gender and class inequalities, and how might they be changed to reduce them? How do science and technology shape society, and how does society shape science and technology?

The STSC major has an interdisciplinary methodology. It balances a broad foundation of courses within the department with submajors that draw on courses from across the university. Those submajors focus on more specialized interests within science and technology studies, including biotechnology and biomedicine, energy and environment, global science and technology, information and organizations, and the history and philosophy of science.

The major equips its graduates with sophisticated critical faculties, multidisciplinary skills and wide knowledge. It prepares them for careers in business, law, government, journalism, research, and education, and it provides a foundation for citizenship in a globalizing, diversifying world with rapid technological and scientific change. To see what our graduates are doing, go to our STSC alum page .

STSC courses teach students to:

  • Analyze the interplay of social factors that have resulted in particular scientific and technological outcomes both in the present and in the past
  • Read scientific, technological and historical texts critically, assessing their social, cultural and political origins and ramifications
  • Pursue research projects using published sources, technical and scientific data and unpublished archival materials
  • Deploy evidence and reasoning to build strong arguments about the relationships between science, technology and society

Why major in STSC? Here's what our graduates say:

"I've long struggled with expressing the merit of my Science, Technology, and Society studies – until I realized that the inexpressible was the merit itself. As opposed to the many pre-professional, unambiguous majors of my peers, STSC has given me a flexible analytical framework which which to see the world – a brilliant alchemy of history, sociology, and anthropology. Robert Safian, the editor of Fast Company, declared our generation 'Generation Flux' – the age of agility and adaptability – and I could think of no better way to prepare for this world that my studies in STSC."

"When I look back at my time at Penn, one of the best parts of my college experience was my major: Science, Technology, and Society. I was able to meet frequently with professors and develop close relationships, take a variety of fascinating lecture and seminar courses, work passionately on my thesis for over a year with continuous help and support from my advisors, and create lasting friendships with other STSC major students."

"STSC challenged me to examine the relationships between science and technology, and the material, social, religious, political, and cultural environments in which these practices occur.  This type of thinking and approach, along with the writing and research skills I developed, have been applicable to many aspects of my job and graduate level courses."

"My coursework taught me to approach all tasks with clear and rational thinking. It has shown me the rewards of perseverance, innovation, and careful attention to detail. These lessons will translate well when developing complex solutions in the business world."

"I think I offer a different perspective than a lot of the other analysts hired at my consulting firm, as most of them  are  business  undergrads  who may  not  have  the  broad  critical  thinking  skills  to consider the societal implications of any technology we might be implementing."

For Prospective Students

  • We encourage you to explore the website in advance of contacting faculty or visiting campus.  
  • Any appointments with faculty must be arranged prior to visiting campus and depend on faculty schedules and availability.  
  • If you wish to speak with the STSC Chair or Associate Chair, please contact them by email to arrange an appointment. 
  • If you wish to visit classes, the recommended courses for visitors are listed on the College’s  Courses for Visitors page. Prospective students should check with the course instructor to make sure that the day they plan to visit is good for seeing the class in action, and that there is no field trip or exam on that day. 
  • Talk to a MAP advisor about STSC
  • What STSC Graduates Do
  • Link to the College of Arts and Sciences

Myths about Majors: 

  • I have to find the right major to get a job/get into graduate school
  • I have to know now exactly what my career path is
  • I have to do something pre-professional right now
  • I am the only person at Penn who doesn't know what they want to do after college

Why Study Science, Technology, and Society Here?

Science and Technology Studies is a growing field that draws on the full range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities to examine the ways that science and technology shape, and are shaped by, our society, politics, and culture. We study contemporary controversies, historical transformations, policy dilemmas, and broad philosophical questions. The graduate program prepares students to be productive and publicly-engaged scholars, advancing research and making a difference.

Beyond the Classroom

Our programs offer lots of opportunities for you to enrich your education, both inside and outside of class.

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

Kate Billingsley


Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. Technology is a tool that can be used to solve real-world problems. The field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) “seeks to promote cross-disciplinary integration, civic engagement, and critical thinking” of concepts in the worlds of science and technology ( Harvard University, n.d.). As an aspect of everyday life, technology is continuously evolving to ensure that humanity can be productive, efficient, and follow the path of globalization . STS is a concept that encompasses countless fields of study. “Scientists, engineers, and medical professionals swim (as they must) in the details of their technical work: experiments, inventions, treatments and cures. “promotes cross-disciplinary integration, civic engagement, and critical thinking” It’s an intense and necessary focus” ( Stanford University , n.d.). On the opposite side of the spectrum is STS, which “draws attention to the water: the social, political, legal, economic, and cultural environment that shapes research and invention, supports or inhibits it — and is in turn shaped by evolving science and technology” ( Stanford University , n.d.). Technology is a crucial part of life that is constantly developing to fit the changing needs of society and aiding humanity in simplifying the demands of everyday life.

According to Oberdan (2010), science and technology share identical goals. “At first glance, they seem to provide a deep and thorough going division between the two but, as the discussion progresses, it will become clear that there are, indeed, areas of overlap, too” (Oberdan, 25). Philosophers believe that for a claim to be considered knowledge, it must first be justified, like a hypothesis, and true.  Italian astronomer, physicist, and engineer, Galileo Galilei , was incredibly familiar with the obstacles involved with proving something to be a fact or a theory within the scientific world. Galileo was condemned by the Roman Catholic church for his beliefs that contradicted existing church doctrine (Coyne, 2013). Galileo’s discoveries, although denounced by the church were incredibly innovative and progressive for their time, and are still seen as the basis for modern astronomy today. Nearly 300 years later, Galileo was eventually forgiven by the church, and to this day he is seen as one of the most well known and influential astronomers of all time. Many new innovations and ideas often receive push back before becoming revolutionary and universal practices.


Flash forward to modern time where we can see that innovation is happening even more around us. Look no further than what could be considered the culmination of modern technological innovation: the mobile phone. Cell phone technology has developed exponentially since the invention of the first mobile phone in 1973 ( Seward , 2013). Although there was a period for roughly 20 years in which cell phones were seen as unnecessary and somewhat impractical, as society’s needs changed and developed in the late 1990s, there was a large spike in consumer purchases of mobile phones. Now, cell phones are an entity that can be seen virtually anywhere, which is in large part due to their practicality. Cell phones, specifically smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone , have changed the way society uses technology. Smartphone technology has eliminated the need for people to have a separate cell phone, MP3 player, GPS, mobile video gaming systems, and more. Consumers may fail to realize how many aspects of modern technological advancement are involved in the use of their mobile phones. Cell phones use wifi to browse the internet, use google, access social media, and more. Although these technologies are beneficial, they also allow consumers locations to be traced and phone conversations to be recorded. Modern cell phone technologies collect data on consumers, and many people are unsure how this information is being used. Additionally, mobile phones come equipped with virus protection which brings the field of cybersecurity into smartphone usage. The technological advances that have been made in the market for mobile phones have been targeted towards the changing needs of consumers and society. As proven by the rise in cell phones, with advancements in the field of STS comes new unforeseen obstacles and ethical dilemmas.

​Technology is changing the way we live in this world. Innovations in the scientific world are becoming increasingly more advanced to help conserve earth’s resources and aid in the reduction of pollutants . Transportation is a field that has changed greatly in recent years due to modernization in science and technology, as well as an increased awareness of environmental concerns. The transportation industry continues to be a large producer of pollution

Tesla Model 3 Monaco

due to emissions from cars, trains, and other modes of transportation. As a result, cars have changed a great deal in recent years. A frontrunner in creating environmentally friendly luxury cars is Tesla, lead by CEO Elon Musk. Although nearly every brand of car has an electric option that either runs completely gas free, or uses significantly less fuel than standard cars, Tesla has taken this one step further and created a zero emissions vehicle. However, some believe that Tesla has taken their innovations in the transportation market a bit too far, specifically with their release of driverless cars.

“The recent reset of expectations on driverless cars is a leading indicator for other types of AI-enabled systems as well,” says David A. Mindell,  professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and the Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT. “These technologies hold great promise, but it takes time to understand the optimal combination of people and machines. And the timing of adoption is crucial for understanding the impact on workers” ( Dizikes , 2019).

As the earth becomes more and more polluted, consumers are seeking to find new ways to cut down on their negative impacts on the earth. Eco-friendly cars are a simple yet effective way in which consumers can cut back on their pollution within their everyday lives.


The way in which energy is generated has changed greatly to benefit consumers and the environment. Energy production has followed a rather linear path over time, and is a prime example of how new innovations stem from old technologies. In the early 1800s, the steam engine acted as the main form of creating energy. It wasn’t until the mid-late 1800s that the combustion engine was invented. This invention was beneficial because it was more efficient than its predecessor, and became a form of energy that was streamlined to be used in countless applications. As time has progressed, this linear path of innovation has continued. As new energy creating technologies have emerged, machinery that was once seen as efficient and effective have been phased out. Today, largely due to the increased demand for clean energy sources, the linear path has split and consumers are faced with numerous options for clean, environmentally friendly energy sources. Over time, scientists and engineers have come to realize that these forms of energy pollute and damage the earth. Solar power, a modern form of clean energy, was once seen as an expensive and impractical way of turning the sun’s energy into usable energy. Now, it is common to see newly built homes with solar panels already built in. Since technology develops to fit the needs of society, scientists have worked to improve solar panels to make them cheaper and easier to access. A total of 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously, which is more than 10,000 times of the world’s total energy use ( Chandler , 2011). This information may seem staggering, but is crucial in understanding the importance, as well as the large influence that modern forms of energy can have on society.

Technology has become a crucial part of our society. Without technological advancements, so much of our everyday lives would be drastically different. As technology develops, it strives to fulfill the changing needs of society. Technology progresses as society evolves. That being said, progress comes at a price. This price is different for each person, and varies based on how much people value technological and scientific advancements in their own lives. Thomas Parke Hughes’s Networks of Power “compared how electric power systems developed in America, England, and Germany, showing that they required not only electrical but social ‘engineering’ to create the necessary legal frameworks, financing, standards, political support, and organizational designs” ( Stanford University ). In other words, the scientific invention and production of a new technology does not ensure its success. Technology’s success is highly dependent on society’s acceptance or rejection of a product, as well as whether or not any path dependence is involved. Changing technologies benefit consumers in countless aspects of their lives including in the workforce, in communications, in the use of natural resources, and so much more. These innovations across numerous different markets aid society by making it easier to complete certain tasks. Innovation will never end; rather, it will continue to develop at increasing rates as science and technological fields becomes more and more cutting edge.

Chapter Questions

  • True or False: Improvements in science and technology always benefit society
  • Multiple Choice : Technology is: A.   The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry B.  Tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems C.   Something that does not change D.   Both A and B
  • Short Answer: Discuss ways in which technological progression over time is related and how this relationship has led to the creation of new innovation.

Chandler, D. (2011). Shining brightly: Vast amounts of solar energy radiate to the Earth constantly, but tapping that energy cost-effectively remains a challenge.  MIT News. http://news.mit.edu/2011/energy-scale-part3-1026 

Coyne, SJ, G. V. (2013). Science meets biblical exegesis in the Galileo affair.  Zygon® ,  48 (1), 221-229. https://doi-org.libproxy.clemson.edu/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01324.x 

Dizikes, P., & MIT News Office. (2019). MIT report examines how to make technology work for society. http://news.mit.edu/2019/work-future-report-technology-jobs-society-0904

Florez, D., García-Duque, C. E., & Osorio, J. C. (2019). Is technology (still) applied science? Technology in Society.  Technology in Society, 59.   doi: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2019.101193

Groce, J. E., Farrelly, M. A., Jorgensen, B. S., & Cook, C. N. (2019). Using social‐network research to improve outcomes in natural resource management. Conservation biology , 33 (1), 53-65. https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/cobi.13127

Harvard University. (n.d.) What is STS? .  http://sts.hks.harvard.edu/about/whatissts.html .

Union of Concerned Scientists. (2018). How Do Battery Electric Cars Work?   https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/how-do-battery-electric-cars-work .

Oberdan, T. (2010). Science, Technology, and the Texture of Our Lives. Tavenner Publishing Company.

Seward, Z. M. (2013). The First Mobile Phone Call Was Made 40 Years Ago Today . The Atlantic.   https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/the-first- mobile-phone-call-was-made-40-years-ago-today/274611/ .

Stanford University. (n.d.). What is the Study of STS? . https://sts.stanford.edu/about/what-study-sts .

Wei, R., & Lo, V.-H. (2006). Staying connected while on the move: Cell phone use and social connectedness. New Media & Society, 8 (1), 53–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444806059870

Winston, B. (2006). Media Technology and Society: A History From the Telegraph to the Internet . London: Routledge.

Images & Videos

“Tesla Model 3 Monaco” is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Building bridges between science and society for a better future. | Nadine Bongaerts | TEDxSaclay

“Tesla Model 3 Monaco”  is licensed under  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

To the extent possible under law, Kate Billingsley has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Science, Technology, & Society: A Student-Led Exploration , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

What is STS?

Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a relatively new academic field. Its roots lie in the interwar period and continue into the start of the Cold War, when historians and sociologists of science, and scientists themselves, became interested in the relationship between scientific knowledge, technological systems, and society. The best known product of this interest was Thomas Kuhn’s classic 1962 study,  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . This influential work helped crystallize a new approach to historical and social studies of science, in which scientific facts were seen as products of scientists’ socially conditioned investigations rather than as objective representations of nature. Among the many ramifications of Kuhn’s work was a systematic effort by social scientists to probe how scientific discovery and its technological applications link up with other social developments, in law, politics, public policy, ethics, and culture.

STS, as practiced in academia today, merges two broad streams of scholarship. The first consists of research on the nature and practices of science and technology (S&T). Studies in this genre approach S&T as social institutions possessing distinctive structures, commitments, practices, and discourses that vary across cultures and change over time. This line of work addresses questions like the following: is there a scientific method; what makes scientific facts credible; how do new disciplines emerge; and how does science relate to religion? The second stream concerns itself more with the impacts and control of science and technology, with particular focus on the risks, benefits and opportunities that S&T may pose to peace, security, community, democracy, environmental sustainability, and human values. Driving this body of research are questions like the following: how should states set priorities for research funding; who should participate, and how, in technological decisionmaking; should life forms be patented; how should societies measure risks and set safety standards; and how should experts communicate the reasons for their judgments to the public?

The rise of STS as a teaching field reflects a dawning recognition that specialization in today’s research universities does not fully prepare future citizens to respond knowledgeably and reflectively to the most important challenges of the contemporary world. Increasingly, the dilemmas that confront people, whether in government, industry, politics or daily life, cut across the conventional lines of academic training and thought. STS seeks to overcome the divisions, particularly between the two cultures of humanities (interpretive inquiry) and natural sciences (rational analysis).

STS teaching seeks to promote cross-disciplinary integration, civic engagement, and critical thinking. Undergraduate STS courses are especially popular with engineering and pre-professional students, including premeds. They help to illuminate issues of professional responsibility and ethics. Such courses also build bridges between disciplines that do not ordinarily meet each other in the undergraduate curriculum, such as sociology and science, law and science, anthropology and technology, environmental science and political theory, or technology and philosophy. Graduate STS courses offer ways of integrating knowledge in areas that are impossible to grasp through any single discipline; examples include security studies, environmental studies, globalization, the human sciences, and biology and society. STS courses in these areas enable students to form more robust understandings of the nature of controversy, the causes of scientific and technological change, the relationship of culture and reason, and the limits of rational analytic methods in characterizing complex problems.

In sum, STS explores in rich and compelling ways what difference it makes to human societies that we, collectively, are producers and users of science and technology. STS research, teaching, and outreach offer citizens of modern, high-tech societies the resources with which to evaluate—analytically, esthetically, and ethically—the benefits and the risks, the perils and the promises, of notable advances in science and technology.

Additional Readings

  • Mario Biagioli, ed.,  The Science Studies Reader  (Routledge, 1999).
  • Wiebe Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, eds.,  The Social Construction of Technological Systems  (MIT Press, 1987).
  • David J. Hess,  Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction  (New York University Press, 1997).
  • Sheila Jasanoff, Gerald Markle, James Petersen and Trevor Pinch, eds.,  Handbook of Science and Technology Studies  (Sage Publications, 1995).
  • Bruno Latour,  Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory  (Oxford University Press, 2005).
  • Sergio Sismondo,  An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies  (Blackwell, 2003).

Useful Links

  • Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)
  • European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)
  • Science, Technology, and Society Center, UC Berkeley
  • Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University
  • Science and Technology Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Science, Technology, and Society Program, University of Michigan
  • Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT
  • Science and Technology Studies, University of British Columbia

RESTS: Reflection on Science Technology and Society

Reflection at the university of twente.

With the introduction of the Twente Educational Model, the University of Twente has given a unique shape to academic reflection in its programmes. By integrating reflection on science, technology, and society in modules and projects, rather than offering it as a separate set of courses, the University of Twente goes much further than many other universities in terms of integration and connection to actual issues within specific disciplines and fields. For Twente academics, reflection on science, technology, and society belongs to their central competences and is fully integrated in their academic training.

what is science technology and society essay brainly

REflection on Science Technology and Society (RESTS)

The University Board has requested the departments of  Science, Technology, and Policy Studies  (STEPS) and  Philosophy  to develop and teach courses in REflection on Science Technology and Society (RESTS). These two departments have a strong, international reputation in philosophy of technology and in Science and Technology Studies. Between 2013 and 2015, these courses have been developed, in close communication between the Bachelor programmes and the RESTS groups. An integrative approach was followed, connecting RESTS elements closely to the content of the programmes, and raising reflexive questions ‘from within’, as a natural element of the work in a specific field.

The strength of the Twente approach is precisely in this close connection between education in academic reflection and the discipline-specific content of the programmes. Rather than offering generic courses in history, sociology, philosophy or ethics, the University of Twente chooses to use the concrete content of the individual programmes as a starting point and a basis to build upon.

Courses include the ethics of dealing with risk in engineering projects; reflection on the implications of interdisciplinary cooperation and on the quality of design research; the history and foundations of specific fields like mathematics, physics, and chemistry; value sensitive design; governance of innovation processes; reflection on participating in societal discussions about the risks and opportunities of new technologies – just to mention a few examples.

In all RESTS education, three foci can be distinguished, connecting to the three O’s that have a central place in Twente education: science (connecting to ‘onderzoeken’ / ‘research’), technology (connecting to ‘ontwerpen’ / ‘design’), and society (connecting to ‘organiseren’ / ‘organization’).

  • Reflection on science typically takes shape in the philosophy and history of science. Also science communication (interaction between science and society) and science policy are part of this type of reflection. Other interesting subjects: quality of research, paradigms and uncertainty, integrity, interdisciplinarity, the scientific character of design research.
  • Reflection on technology takes shape in the history and philosophy of technology. The focus is on the interaction between technology development on the one hand and societal implications on the other. Interesting topics: human-technology relations; philosophy and ethics of design, script analysis, constructive technology assessment, history of technology, technology and democracy.
  • Reflection on society is primarily focused on the ethics of technology, professional responsibility, and governance of technology. Twente programmes teach students to identify and address the ethical questions in their professional practice, and to understand and engage in policy-making regarding science and technology.

RESTS at the bachelor's programme level

  • Advanced Technology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Applied Physics
  • Biomedical Technology
  • Business and Information Technology
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Communication Studies
  • Creative Technology
  • Electrical Engineering
  • European Public Administration
  • Health Sciences
  • Industrial Design
  • Industrial Engineering and Management
  • International Business Administration
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Technical Computer Science
  • Technical Medicine

Home / Essay Samples / Information Science and Technology / Impact of Technology / Understanding the Importance of Science, Technology and Society

Understanding the Importance of Science, Technology and Society

  • Category: Information Science and Technology
  • Topic: Advantages of Technology , Effects of Technology

Pages: 2 (934 words)

Views: 1656

  • Downloads: -->

--> ⚠️ Remember: This essay was written and uploaded by an--> click here.

Found a great essay sample but want a unique one?

are ready to help you with your essay

You won’t be charged yet!

Smartphone Essays

Open Source Software Essays

Cell Phones Essays

Internet Essays

Computer Essays

Related Essays

We are glad that you like it, but you cannot copy from our website. Just insert your email and this sample will be sent to you.

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service  and  Privacy statement . We will occasionally send you account related emails.

Your essay sample has been sent.

In fact, there is a way to get an original essay! Turn to our writers and order a plagiarism-free paper.

samplius.com uses cookies to offer you the best service possible.By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy .--> -->