science, people protesting, signs: steminist - march for science, a woman's place is in the lab

Science, Technology and Society Studies (STSS) Minor

Debuting in Fall 2020, the Science, Technology and Society Studies (STSS) Minor provides students with an opportunity to explore the ways in which science and technology shape, and are shaped by, their larger social, political, economic, institutional and historical contexts. The need for individuals who are able to critically engage and evaluate scientific and technological innovation and application has never been clearer. The STSS minor provides students with the intellectual tools necessary to understand the rapid and profound transformations of our social environment resulting from the development of new technologies and the changing relations between scientific expertise and public discourse. Courses focus on three general themes: (1) the authority of science, such as questions about what science is, how it is different from other forms of knowledge, and whether science is objective; (2) the impact of science and technology on societies; and (3) the impact of societies on science and technology: how social and cultural processes and interests affect scientific inquiry and technological development.

Students enrolled in the STSS minor will have the opportunity to take courses in a wide variety of disciplines including Anthropology, Communications, European Studies, History, Humanities, Journalism and Media Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Women’s Studies. In these courses, students will explore questions such as:

  • What is science and what is technology? Is there a scientific method? What makes scientific facts credible? How are science and technology governed, communicated, and taught?
  • How have science and technology been shaped by relations of gender, race, and class? What role have historical events such as wars, economic growth, and politics played in their development? How are they affected by religion, art, language and culture?
  • How should states set priorities for research funding? Who should participate, and how, in technological decision making? Should life forms be patented? How should experts communicate the reasons for their judgments to the public?
  • What are the moral responsibilities of scientists? What are the moral responsibilities of our political leaders with regards to scientists, science as a practice, and scientific advice?

Graduates of the STSS minor will gain the skills necessary critically engage with science and technology with across a variety of social, political and ethical dimensions. Students majoring in STEM fields will be able to offer a uniquely broad, yet sensitive perspective on science and technology, as well as strong skills in writing and argumentation that will aid them throughout their careers. Meanwhile, students in non-STEM fields will acquire not only greater scientific literacy, but also more comprehensive perspectives on science and technology as modes of inquiry and areas of practice. This will uniquely equip and qualify them for careers in law or business engaged with jobs in law or business engaged with aspects of science and technology, in science and technology public policy making or analysis, in education in science and technology museums, and in science journalism and technical writing.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Integrate core theories and methods in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • Deploy these theories and methods to analyze interactions among science, technology and society in particular historical and cultural contexts.
  • Analyze the normative and ethical considerations relevant to science and technology.
  • Evaluate claims in STS-related debates.
  • Communicate clearly and persuasively about STS issues.
  • Create modes of intervention within the public discourse on science and technology.

Required Course (9 Units)

  • CAL/STSS 301: Issue and Concepts in Science, Technology, and Society
  • CAL/STSS 590: Science, Technology, and Society Capstone
  • WMNST 382: Gender, Science, and Technology OR HIST 514: History of Science: From Revolution to Evolution

Electives (6 Units at least 3/6 must be upper division)

  • ANTH 349: Roots of Civilizations
  • CAL 580/STSS 580: Topics in Science, Technology, and Society
  • COMM 540: Communication, Science, and the Public Good
  • EUROP 160: European Innovation in Science and Technology
  • HIST 102: History of the World through Science and Technology
  • HIST 514: History of Science: From Revolution to Evolution (unless taken as a required course)
  • HUM 409: The Future
  • HUM 412: Science and the Humanities
  • JMS 312W: Media Writing for Scientists
  • LING 354: Language and Computers
  • PHIL 140: Technology and Human Behavior
  • PHIL 537: Philosophy of Science
  • RELS 363: Religion and the Sciences
  • SOC 460: Technology and Society
  • WMNST 382: Gender, Science, and Technology (unless taken as a required course)
  • *WMNST 582: Feminist Science and Activism

Be strategic with your course selection and receive an STSS minor with only 3 additional units (CAL/STSS 590).

The STSS Minor helps students to complete all their upper-division general education requirements in a coherent and efficient manner. With careful planning it is possible to obtain an STSS minor and only add 3 units (CAL/STSS 590) to a student’s total coursework, making it attractive to students in majors requiring many units.

One course in the minor -- JMS 312W: Media Writing for Scientists -- can be used to satisfy the upper-division writing requirement. The minor also includes courses that satisfy requirements in Foundations Areas C2 and E, as well as each of the three areas of upper-division “Explorations” requirements, as demonstrated by the list below.

Foundations C2. Humanities: Literature, Philosophy, Languages Other Than English

  • HIST 102: History of the World though Science and Technology
  • EUROP 160: European Innovation in Science and Technology

Foundations E: Lifelong Learning and Self-Development

  • PHIL 140: Technology and Human Behavior

Explorations A. Natural Sciences

  • WMNST 382: Gender, Science, and Technology

Explorations B. Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • CAL/STSS 301: Issue and Concepts in Science, Technology and Society
  • LING 354: Language and Computers
  • SOC 460: Technology and Society

Explorations C. Humanities

  • ANTH 349: Roots of Civilizations
  • HUM 409: The Future
  • HUM 412: Science and the Humanities
  • REL S 363: Religion and the Sciences

For more information, please contact the program adviser, Dr. Catherine Clune-Taylor [email protected]  in the Department of Women’s Studies.

Image credits (left to right): "March for Science in Amsterdam 2017" by K_S is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0"March4Science 1216" by mdfriendofhillary is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 , and "March for Science in Amsterdam 2017" by K_S is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0