Science, Technology, and Society
Office: Science, Technology, and Society
Mail Code: 94305-2120
Phone: (650) 723-2565
Web Site: http://sts.stanford.edu
Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Science, Technology, and Society
The Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) aims to provide students with an interdisciplinary framework through which to understand the complex interactions of science, technology and the social world. After working through a common core of courses drawn from the social sciences, the humanities, the natural and physical sciences and engineering, students pursue coursework in one of five specialized areas:
- Information Technology, Media and Society
- Innovation, Technology and Organizations
- Environment and Sustainability
- Life Sciences and Biotechnology
- Policy, Security and Technology
Students may also undertake research in affiliated laboratories and through the honors program. All students complete a capstone project, either by taking a senior capstone seminar (STS 200) or by applying for and completing an honors thesis. Students must demonstrate mastery in at least one field from within the humanities or social sciences and at least one field from within the sciences or engineering. Majors may declare either a B.A. or a B.S. degree (see the specific requirements for each degree).
The Program's affiliated faculty represent over a dozen departments, including Anthropology, Communication, Computer Science, Education, Electrical Engineering, History, Law, Management Science and Engineering, Political Science and Sociology. By learning to bring such a rich collection of disciplinary approaches to bear on questions of science and technology, students graduate uniquely equipped to succeed in professions that demand fluency with both technical and social frameworks. Recent graduates of STS have entered top-ranked Ph.D. and MBA programs and forged successful careers in a variety of fields, including business, engineering, law, public service, medicine and academia.
Learning Outcomes (Undergraduate)
The Program expects undergraduate majors to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Students are expected to demonstrate:
- a knowledge of core theories and methods in the interdisciplinary field of STS.
- an ability to deploy these theories and methods to analyze interactions between science, technology and society in particular historical and cultural contexts.
- an ability to critically evaluate empirical evidence and theoretical claims in STS-related debates.
- an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively about STS issues to a general audience in multiple media including oral presentation and writing.
Advising and Course Selection
The Program in Science, Technology, and Society offers an advising process that includes faculty, staff and peer advisers. Prospective majors must first meet with a peer adviser and then with the Program’s Student Services Officer to determine which degree they will pursue (the B.A. or B.S.) and how they will fulfill the Program’s basic requirements. When they are ready to declare, they meet with the Program's Student Services Officer to submit their degree plan and then the Associate Director reviews the coursework for intellectual coherence. Majors are then assigned to a faculty adviser who serves as an intellectual mentor and helps them identify the core questions driving their interest in the field. The Program also sponsors a wide variety of events designed to help students meet their colleagues and Program alumni, discover research and internship opportunities, and make their way toward the career of their choice.
The program offers a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology, and Society. Both degree programs require that the student complete the STS Core.
|With a grade of C or higher in each course, complete 8 courses satisfying the following requirements:|
|A. Interdisciplinary Foundational Course (5)|
|STS 1||The Public Life of Science and Technology||5|
|B. Disciplinary Analyses: six courses, with two in each area, and at least one of these courses must be a STS WIM course and at least one of these courses must be a STS Global course. (22-30) Note 1 & 2|
|1. Social Scientific Perspectives||8-10|
|Theory of Ecological and Environmental Anthropology|
|Urban Culture in Global Perspective|
|Digital Media in Society|
|World Food Economy|
|War and Peace in American Foreign Policy|
|2. Cultural and Historical Perspectives||8-10|
|Cultures of Disease: Cancer and HIV/AIDS|
|Ten Things: An Archaeology of Design|
|Leonardo's World: Science, Technology, and Art in the Renaissance|
|World History of Science|
|History of Women and Gender in Science, Medicine and Engineering|
|The Scientific Revolution|
|The Ethical Challenges of Climate Change|
|Introduction to Philosophy of Science|
|3. Scientific and Engineering Perspectives||6-10|
|Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions|
|Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy|
|Ethical Issues in Engineering|
|Good Products, Bad Products|
|Social Networks - Theory, Methods, and Applications|
|Technology and National Security|
|Ethics, Technology, and Public Policy|
|C. Senior Requirements (5-10)||5-10|
|Food and Society: Politics, Culture and Technology|
or STS 200D
|Text Technologies: A History|
or STS 200F
|Sociology of Innovation and Invention|
or STS 200G
or STS 200H
|Ethics, Science, & Technology|
or STS 200I
|Art and Technology|
|Advanced Individual Work|
1WIM courses: ANTHRO 90C, COMM 120W, CS 181W, HISTORY 140A, HISTORY 232F, MS&E 193 or MS&E 197
2Global courses: ANTHRO 126, ECON 106, HISTORY 44Q, HISTORY 131, HISTORY 140, HISTORY 144, HISTORY 208A, HISTORY 278S, CEE 64
Minimum of 50 units, at least twelve courses, from among those designated on the appropriate concentration area course list (available in the Related Courses tab and on the STS website). All courses must be taken for a letter grade where offered and may not be double-counted with core coursework. Students may petition only one course outside the list of approved courses to count toward their STS degree plan. Thematic concentrations are organized around an STS-related problem or area:
Information Technology, Media, and Society
Innovation, Technology, and Organizations
Environment and Sustainability
Life Sciences and Biotechnology
Policy, Security, and Technology
A student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree must take at least 8 classes from the social science and/or humanities course menus, and at least 4 classes from the science and engineering course menus. Social science/humanities courses should include a sequence of courses that build on one another, and address each of the dimensions of the concentration; and science and engineering courses should include a sequence of technical courses that build on one another.
A student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree must take at least 8 classes from the science and engineering course menu, and at least 4 classes from social science and/or humanities course menus. Science and engineering courses should include one or two sequences of technical courses that build on one another. Social science and humanities courses should engage with key STS ideas and analytical approaches.
Alternatively, subject to program approval, a student may choose to design a self-designed concentration. A proposal (5 to 10 pages) should describe the intellectual objectives in detail, explain why a self-designed concentration is the optimal way to pursue these objectives (as opposed to the five STS concentrations or other majors at Stanford), and list at least 12 courses and 50 units that comprise the plan of study. Students with a self-designed concentration must fulfill the same core requirements as other STS students.
Each concentration, certified or self-designed, requires the signature of the STS Associate Director before it is approved.
The Stanford Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) invites STS majors to apply for admission to its Honors Program. Since the program was launched in 1978, STS honors students have carried out a wide array of innovative research projects. Honors projects present a unique opportunity to pursue one's intellectual interests in depth, work closely with a faculty advisor, and develop a new set of research and analytical skills that are broadly applicable. STS honors signals expertise in a given field, organizational skills, and intellectual rigor, and students have used them as a springboard for graduate studies and for careers in fields such as information technology, entrepreneurship, finance, public policy, media, education, law, medicine, and the nonprofit sector. Often, the thesis project proves to be among the most rewarding and memorable experiences in a student's academic career at Stanford, as well as an important intellectual milestone. An STS honors thesis tackles a significant problem or question related to a particular area of STS. Students draw research methods from one or more of the disciplines that shape STS, such as history, sociology, communication, anthropology, environmental science, computer programming/modeling, engineering, economics, political science, and art history. Past honors projects are on file in the STS office library.
Honors Program Eligibility and Admission Criteria
To be eligible to apply for the honors program at the end of junior year, students must meet the following criteria:
Find an honors faculty adviser and develop research questions, methodology and plan
Be a current junior or rising senior and have declared STS as a major in Axess
Attend the required Information Session for Juniors in Autumn Quarter
Attend at least one (preferably all three) of the quarterly STS workshops offered for prospective honors students
Finish all STS core course work by the end of Spring Quarter, junior year
Submit a complete honors program application and research proposal by the last day of classes, Spring Quarter, junior year
For application and proposal parameters, see the document STS Honors Program, available on the STS web site.
Honors Degree Requirements
To graduate with honors, seniors in the honors program must meet the following criteria:
Attend required monthly workshops for current STS honors students
Develop an original and complete thesis in consultation with honors faculty adviser
Submit a first draft of thesis to honors adviser no later than April 1
Submit the final thesis to honors adviser by May 1
Earn at least a grade of 'B' on final thesis
Have an overall Stanford GPA of 3.4 at the end of Winter Quarter, senior year
As of September 1, 2012, STS is no longer admitting non-majors to the honors program.
Minor in Science, Technology, and Society
The program no longer offers a minor. Students currently enrolled in the minor should consult the Stanford Bulletin 2011-12 for degree requirements.
STS Affiliated Faculty
Director and Professor of Education: John Willinsky
Associate Director: Kyoko Sato
Program Committee: Stephen Barley (Management Science and Engineering), Paula Findlen (History), Mark Granovetter (Sociology), Hank Greely (Law), Sarah Lochlann Jain (Anthropology), Robert McGinn (Management Science and Engineering), Brad Osgood (Electrical Engineering), Eric Roberts (Computer Science), Scott Sagan (Political Science), Fred Turner (Communication), John Willinsky (Education)
Affiliated Faculty and Staff: Jeremy Bailenson (Communication), Stephen Barley (Management Science and Engineering), Thomas Byers (Management Science and Engineering), Jean-Pierre Dupuy (French), Paula Findlen (History), Duana Fullwiley (Anthropology), Mark Granovetter, (Sociology), Hank Greely (Law), Ann Grimes (Communication), James T. Hamilton (Communication), Martin Hellman (Electrical Engineering, Emeritus), Miyako Inoue (Anthropology), Sarah Lochlann Jain (Anthropology), Pamela Lee (Art and Art History), Sandra Soo-Jin Lee (Biomedical Ethics), Helen Longino (Philosophy), Henry Lowood (Stanford University Libraries), Robert McGinn (Management Science and Engineering), Thomas Mullaney (History), Brad Osgood (Electrical Engineering), Walter Powell (Education), Robert Proctor (History), Jessica Riskin (History), Eric Roberts (Computer Science), Scott Sagan (Political Science), Kyoko Sato (STS), Londa Schiebinger (History), Michael Shanks (Classics, Anthropology), Elaine Treharne (English), Fred Turner (Communication), John Willinsky (Education), Gavin Wright (Economics)
Emeriti: James Adams (Management Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering), Barton Bernstein (History), Walter Vincenti (Aeronautics and Astronautics)
Overseas Studies Courses in Science, Technology, and Society
The Bing Overseas Studies Program manages Stanford study abroad programs for Stanford undergraduates. Students should consult their department or program's student services office for applicability of Overseas Studies courses to a major or minor program.
The Bing Overseas Studies course search site displays courses, locations, and quarters relevant to specific majors.
|OSPAUSTL 10||Coral Reef Ecosystems||3|
|OSPAUSTL 25||Freshwater Systems||3|
|OSPAUSTL 30||Coastal Forest Ecosystems||3|
|OSPBEIJ 17||Chinese Film Studies||4|
|OSPBEIJ 20||Communication, Culture, and Society: The Chinese Way||4|
|OSPBEIJ 42||Chinese Media Studies||4|
|OSPBER 115X||The German Economy: Past and Present||4-5|
|OSPBER 126X||A People's Union? Money, Markets, and Identity in the EU||4-5|
|OSPBER 161X||The German Economy in the Age of Globalization||4-5|
|OSPCPTWN 36||The Archaeology of Southern African Hunter Gatherers||4|
|OSPCPTWN 43||Public and Community Health in Sub-Saharan Africa||4|
|OSPCPTWN 68||Cities in the 21st Century: Urbanization, Globalization and Security||4|
|OSPFLOR 41||The Florentine Sketchbook: A Visual Arts Practicum||3-5|
|OSPFLOR 44||Galileo: Genius, Innovation and the Scientific Revolution||5|
|OSPFLOR 48||Sharing Beauty in Florence: Collectors, Collections and the Shaping of the Western Museum Tradition||4|
|OSPFLOR 49||On-Screen Battles: Filmic Portrayals of Fascism and World War II||5|
|OSPFLOR 58||Space as History: Social Vision and Urban Change||4|
|OSPFLOR 85||Bioethics: the Biotechnological Revolution, Human Rights and Politics in the Global Era||4|
|OSPFLOR 115Y||Building the Cathedral and the Town Hall: Constructing and Deconstructing Symbols of a Civilization||4|
|OSPKYOTO 64||Japanese Popular Culture||4-5|
|OSPMADRD 45||Women in Art: Case Study in the Madrid Museums||4|
|OSPMADRD 57||Health Care: A Contrastive Analysis between Spain and the U.S.||4|
|OSPMADRD 72||Issues in Bioethics Across Cultures||4|
|OSPOXFRD 45||British Economic Policy since World War II||5|
|OSPOXFRD 57||The Rise of the Woman Writer 1660-1860||5|
|OSPPARIS 30||The Avant Garde in France through Literature, Art, and Theater||4|
|OSPPARIS 44||EAP: Analytical Drawing and Graphic Art||2|
|OSPPARIS 72||The Ceilings of Paris||4|
|OSPPARIS 153X||Health Systems and Health Insurance: France and the U.S., a Comparison across Space and Time||5|
|OSPSANTG 29||Sustainable Cities: Comparative Transportation Systems in Latin America||4-5|
|OSPSANTG 31||The Chilean Energy System: 30 Years of Market Reforms||5|
|OSPSANTG 71||Santiago: Urban Planning, Public Policy, and the Built Environment||4-5|
|OSPSANTG 85||Marine Ecology of Chile and the South Pacific||5|
|OSPSANTG 119X||The Chilean Economy: History, International Relations, and Development Strategies||5|
|OSPSANTG 130X||The Chilean Economy in Comparative Perspective||5|
STS 1. The Public Life of Science and Technology. 5 Units.
Focus on key social, cultural, and values issues raised by contemporary scientific and technological developments through STS interdisciplinary lens that encompasses historical dimensions (e.g., legacy of scientific revolution); technological impact (e.g., affordances of new tools and media); economic and management aspects (e.g., business models, design and engineering strategies); legal and ethical elements (e.g., intellectual property, social justice); and societal response and participation (e.g., media coverage, forms of activism). Discussion section is required and will be assigned the first week of class.
STS 103Q. Reading and Writing Poetry about Science. 3 Units.
Preference to sophomores. Students will study recent poetry inspired by the phenomena and history of the sciences in order to write such poems themselves. These poems bring sensuous human experience to bear on biology, ecology, neuroscience, physics, astronomy, and geology, as well as on technological advances and missteps. Poets such as Mark Doty, Jody Gladding, Albert Goldbarth, Jorie Graham, Sarah Lindsay, Adrienne Rich, W.S. Merwin, or C. K. Williams. Grounding in poetics, research in individually chosen areas of science, weekly analytical and creative writing. Enrollment limited to 12.
STS 140. Science, Technology and Politics. 4 Units.
This course will critically interrogate the relationship between science and technology and politics. Politics plays a significant role in the production of scientific knowledge and technological artifacts. Science and technology in turn constitute crucial elements of politics and governance in modern democracy. This course will explore these interactions through (1) key theoretical texts in STS and (2) case studies of such issues as climate change, race and science, urban planning, elections and technology, and information technology in social movements. Preference to juniors and seniors. First class attendance mandatory. Enrollment limited to 16.
STS 160Q. Technology in Contemporary Society. 4 Units.
Preference to sophomores. Introduction to the STS field. The natures of science and technology and their relationship, what is most distinctive about these forces today, and how they have transformed and been affected by contemporary society. Social, cultural, and ethical issues raised by recent scientific and technological developments. Case studies from areas such as information technology and biotechnology, with emphasis on the contemporary U.S. Unexpected influences of science and technology on contemporary society and how social forces shape scientific and technological enterprises and their products. Enrollment limited to 12.
STS 165N. Cars: Past, Present, and Future. 3 Units.
(Formerly COMM 165N.) Preference to freshmen. Focus is on the past, present and future of the automobile, bridging the humanities, social sciences, design, and engineering. Focus on the human experiences of designing, making, driving, being driven, living with, and dreaming of the automobile. A different theme featured each week in discussion around a talk and supported by key readings and media. Course is informed by history, archaeology, ethnography, human-technology interaction, mechanical engineering, and cognitive science.
STS 190. Issues in Technology and the Environment. 4 Units.
Humans have long shaped and reshaped the natural world with technologies. Once a menacing presence to conquer or an infinite reserve for resources, nature is now understood to require constant protection from damage and loss. This course will examine humanity's varied relationship with the environment, with a focus on the role of technology. Topics include: industrialization, modernism, nuclear technology, and biotechnology. Students will explore theoretical and methodological approaches in STS and conduct original research that addresses this human-nature-technology nexus. STS majors must have Senior status to enroll in this Senior Capstone course.
STS 199. Individual Work. 1-5 Unit.
Every unit of credit is understood to represent three hours of work per week per term and is to be agreed upon between the student and the faculty member.
STS 199J. Editing a Science Technology and Society Journal. 1-2 Unit.
The Science Technology and Society (STS) Program has a student journal, Intersect, that has been publishing STS student papers for a number of years. This course involves learning about how to serve as an editor of a peer-reviewed journal, while serving as one of the listed editors of Intersect. Entirely operated online, the journal uses a work-flow management to help with the submission process, peer-review, editing, and publication. Student editors learn by being involved in the publishing process, from soliciting manuscripts to publishing the journal's annual issue, while working in consultation with the instructor. Students will also learn about current practices and institutional frameworks around open access and digital publishing.
STS 200A. Food and Society: Politics, Culture and Technology. 5 Units.
This course will examine how politics, culture, and technology intersect in our food practices. Through a survey of academic, journalistic, and artistic works on food and eating, the course will explore a set of key analytical frameworks and conceptual tools in STS, such as the politics of technology, classification and identity, and nature/culture boundaries. The topics covered include: the industrialization of agriculture; technology and the modes of eating (e.g., the rise of restaurants); food taboos; globalization and local foodways; food and environmentalism; and new technologies in production (e.g., genetically modified food). Through food as a window, the course intends to achieve two broad intellectual goals. First, students will explore various theoretical and methodological approaches in STS. In particular, they will pay particular attention to the ways in which politics, culture, and technology intersect in food practices. Second, student will develop a set of basic skills and tools for their own critical thinking and empirical research, and design and conduct independent research on a topic related to food. First class attendance mandatory. STS majors must have Senior status to enroll in this Senior Capstone course.
STS 200B. Global Mobilities. 5 Units.
In this STS senior capstone seminar, students will study the local and global impacts of the technologies that have increased personal mobility. STS majors must have Senior status to enroll in this Senior Capstone course.
Same as: ANTHRO 146.
STS 200C. STS Senior Capstone. 5 Units.
Genetics, Ethics and Society. This course will explore three socially transforming components of genetics research that hold simultaneously liberating and constraining possibilities for populations and publics, both locally and globally. Topically the course will be divided into three sections. First, we will examine past and present issues dealing with the study of human subjects, as well as recent proposals to eventually bring full genome scans to every individual (personal genomics). Next we will learn of large-scale projects that aim to map the presence of environmental pathogens by their genetic signatures on a planetary scale and how different global populations may be affected. The last section of the course will focus on still other projects and policies that aim to expand the scope and capacity of state and international law enforcement through DNA-based forensics (the FBI CODIS database and the UK¿s Human Provenance Pilot Project). Projects like the latter also overlap with theories about community, families, and citizens who may or may not be linked through DNA. New concepts, such as the forensic "genetic informant" within a family unit, human DNA and isotope ¿country matches¿ in cases of state asylum, and DNA based kinship rules for family reunification in many Western countries, will be explored. In all three sections we will also examine scientific ethics when subject populations are minorities, or somehow structurally disadvantaged globally.n This capstone course will provide students with tools to explore and critically assess the various technical, social, and ethical positions of researchers, as well as the role of the state and certain publics in shaping scientific research agendas that promise to reorganize critical aspects of human life. Students will be encouraged to explore these dynamics within such important societal domains as health, law, markets of bio-surveillance, and the growing industry of disease and heritage DNA identity testing among others. We will read works from social scientists of science practice, ethicists, medial humanists and scientists. This course will equip students with tools to write about the intersection of science and society and to engage in a research project that relates to the topical foci of the course, broadly conceived.
Same as: ANTHRO 200C.
STS 200D. Text Technologies: A History. 5 Units.
Beginning with cave painting, carving, cuneiform, hieroglyph, and other early textual innovations, survey of the history of writing, image, sound, and byte, all text technologies employed to create, communicate and commemorate. Focus on the recording of language, remembrance and ideas explicating significant themes seen throughout history; these include censorship, propaganda, authenticity, apocalypticism, technophobia, reader response, democratization and authority. The production, transmission and reception of tablet technology, the scroll, the manuscript codex and handmade book, the machine-made book, newspapers and ephemera; and investigate the emergence of the phonograph and photograph, film, radio, television and digital multimedia.The impact of these various text technologies on their users, and try to draw out similarities and differences in our cultural and intellectual responses to evolving technologies. STS majors must have senior status to enroll in this senior capstone course.
Same as: ENGLISH 184H.
STS 200E. Technology, Nature, and Environmentalism. 5 Units.
Humans have long shaped and reshaped the natural world with technologies. Once a menacing presence to conquer or an infinite reserve for resources, nature is now understood to require constant protection from damage and loss. Humanity's relationships with the environment have changed over time and differed across societies. In this course, students (1) explore diverse ways in which people in different historical and cultural settings have conceptualized nature and their relationships with it, with a focus on the role of technology; and (2) learn the basics of STS research and conduct an original study that addresses this human-nature-technology nexus. First class attendance mandatory. STS majors must have senior status to enroll in this senior capstone course.
STS 200F. Sociology of Innovation and Invention. 5 Units.
This course examines the social, cultural, and economic factors that foster novelty. We will study a wide array of historical contexts, from the Renaissance to the present day, in which clusters of related innovations transformed the way things are done. We ask when do such innovations cascade out and produce social inventions that, for good and bad, create profound changes in how things are done, leading to new forms of organizations and new categories of people. Seminar/lecture format, reading intensive, final term paper. Prerequisite: admission to the course is restricted to declared STS seniors and is by application only. Email Andrew Weger (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an application. Applications must be submitted by 5pm on November 8th.
STS 200G. Paperwork. 5 Units.
"Paperwork" is an intensive reading course in a seminar format, concerning the production, circulation and mediation of "paperwork" both as a material and symbolic infrastructure for the operation of modern institutions and governance. We will explore diverse techniques and technologies of paperwork, including note-taking, memos, lists, files, and documents, and forms of paperwork such as medical record, petition, passport, ID card, immigration paper, as well as archives and other mnemonic technologies both as cultural practices and reflexive objects. The goal of the course is to understand "bureaucracy" in the fields of law, business, and public administration, as well as in civil society generally, from the vantage point of concrete inscription, circulation, and storage of papers and documents. Readings will include works by Bruno Latour, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Cornelia Vismann, Friedrich Kittler, and others.
Same as: ANTHRO 146G.
STS 200H. Ethics, Science, & Technology. 5 Units.
Critical analysis of ethical issues raised by recent or emerging advances in science and engineering. Issues: privacy, intellectual property, design equity, the public interest, ethical responsibilities of technical practitioners, research ethics, and freedom of inquiry. Advances from fields such as IT, biotechnology, nanotechnology, neurotechnology, construction technology, and transport technology. Seminar limited to 25 senior STS majors. Prerequisite: a course in ethics or permission of the instructor.
STS 200I. Art and Technology. 5 Units.
The dynamic relationship between art and technology and its formative impact on culture, politics and society. Beginning with Aristotle on the notion of techne and its implications for art and craft, the seminar will focus primarily on the modern period as well as contemporary developments. Topics: The invention of linear perspective during the Renaissance as influenced by Arab mathematics; the culture of optical devices and painting; the birth of photography and cinema and new forms of pictorial representation; the avant-garde and the ¿Machine Age¿; art and technology collaborations during the 1960s; interactivity and the rise of media arts; sound art; biotechnology and the arts. Guest speakers and possible field trips. Enrollment limited to STS Senior majors and art and art history majors.
Same as: ARTHIST 269A.
STS 210. Ethics, Science, and Technology. 4 Units.
Ethical issues raised by advances in science and technology. Topics: biotechnology including agriculture and reproduction, the built environment, energy technologies, and information technology. Prerequisite: 110 or another course in ethics. Limited enrollment.
STS 299. Advanced Individual Work. 1-5 Unit.
For students in the STS Honors program. Every unit of credit is understood to represent three hours of work per week per term and is to be agreed upon between the student and the faculty member. May be repeated for credit.