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. To major in STS, students work 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:
- Communication and Media
- Innovation and Organization
- Nature and Environment
- Life Sciences and Health
- Politics and Policy
Students may also undertake research in affiliated laboratories and through the honors program for course units. All students complete a capstone project, either by taking one of the senior capstone courses (STS 200) or by applying for and completing an STS honors thesis. Students are encouraged to pursue 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. Gateway Requirement|
|STS 1||The Public Life of Science and Technology||4|
|B. Disciplinary Requirement: six courses, one of these courses must be a STS WIM course and at least one of these courses must be a STS Global course. Note 1 & 2|
|1. Social Sciences and Humanities Courses (complete 4 courses) Note 3 & 4||13-20|
|Genes and Identity|
|Theory of Ecological and Environmental Anthropology|
|Urban Culture in Global Perspective|
|Medical Ethics in a Global World: Examining Race, Difference and Power in the Research Enterprise|
|Culture and Madness|
|Ten Things: An Archaeology of Design|
|Digital Media in Society|
|World Food Economy|
|Gendered Innovations in Science, Medicine, Engineering, and Environment|
|Leonardo's World: Science, Technology, and Art in the Renaissance|
|World History of Science|
|The Scientific Revolution|
|Women and Gender in Science, Medicine and Engineering|
|Water in World History|
|The Scientific Revolution|
|Introduction to Philosophy of Science|
|Science, technology and society and the humanities in the face of the looming disaster|
|The Religious Life of Things|
|2. Engineering and Science Courses (complete 2 courses)||6-10|
|Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions|
|Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy|
|Ethical Issues in Engineering|
|Science, Innovation and the Law|
|Good Products, Bad Products|
|Social Networks - Theory, Methods, and Applications|
|Technology and National Security|
|Ethics, Technology, and Public Policy|
|C. Senior Requirement||4-10|
|Food and Society: Politics, Culture and Technology|
or STS 200D
|Text Technologies: A History|
or STS 200H
|Ethics, Science, & Technology|
or STS 200J
|Advanced Topics in Agnotology|
or STS 200K
|Sciences of Learning|
|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 41, ANTHRO 126, ANTHRO 138, ANTHRO 186, ECON 106, HISTORY 131, HISTORY 140, HISTORY 44Q, HISTORY 144, HISTORY 203J, HISTORY 208A, CEE 64, POLISCI 233F
3May only take HISTORY 140A or HISTORY 232F
4May only take HISTORY 144 or HISTORY 44Q
In addition to the Core requirements common to all STS students, a minimum of 50 units, at least twelve courses, are required 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 if offered and may not be double-counted with core coursework. Students may count no more than two course petitions outside the list of approved Concentration Area courses toward their STS degree plan. Thematic concentrations are organized around an STS-related area or topic:
Communication and Media
Innovation and Organization
Nature and Environment
Life Sciences and Health
Politics and Policy
A student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree must take at least 8 classes from the Socio-Cultural Course menus, including at least 3 designated as Foundational, and at least 4 classes from the Technical Course menus.
A student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree must take at least 8 classes from the Technical Course menu, and at least 4 classes from the Socio-Cultural Course menus, including at least 3 designated as Foundational.
Students in both degree programs are encouraged to pursue sequences of courses that build on one another to increase the coherence of their program and give depth to their skill set and knowledge related to STS.
Alternatively, subject to program approval, a student may choose to design a self-designed concentration. Students interested in designing their own concentration must work with the associate director and have their proposal approved at least 2 quarters prior to your graduating quarter. A proposal (5 to 10 pages) should (a) describe your intellectual objectives in detail, (b) 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 (c) 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. More information can be found on the STS website.
Each student's Concentration Area, certified or self-designed, requires the approval of the STS Associate Director.
The Stanford Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) invites STS majors to apply for admission to its Honors Program. An honors project is equivalent to a capstone course and one Socio-Cultural concentration course. 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 undergraduate opportunity to pursue one's intellectual interests in depth, work closely with a faculty adviser, 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, students must meet the following criteria at the beginning of their senior year:
Find an honors faculty adviser and develop research questions, methodology and plan
Attend at least one of the quarterly STS workshops offered for prospective honors students, take STS 191: Introduction to Research in STS, or speak with the STS Associate Director
Submit a complete honors program application and research proposal
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, or demonstrated academic competence
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
Executive Board: 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), Hector Hoyos (Iberian and Latin American Cultures), Miyako Inoue (Anthropology), Sarah Lochlann Jain (Anthropology), Robert Laughlin (Physics), 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), Mitchell Stevens (Education), 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|
|OSPFLOR 17||The Evolution of Modern Italian Design||4|
|OSPFLOR 41||The Florentine Sketchbook: A Visual Arts Practicum||4|
|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|
|OSPISTAN 62||Business Policy and Strategy in a Global Environment||4|
|OSPKYOTO 45||Japan's Energy-Environment Conundrum||4-5|
|OSPKYOTO 54||Escaping Galapagos: Japan's New Innovation Boom||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 71||Sociology of Communication||5|
|OSPMADRD 72||Issues in Bioethics Across Cultures||4|
|OSPOXFRD 27||Medical Ethics through Literature and Film||4|
|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 88||Principles of Biochemistry||3|
|OSPPARIS 91||Globalization and Its Effect on France and the European Union||5|
|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||4-5|
|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. 4 Units.
The course focuses on key social, cultural, and values issues raised by contemporary scientific and technological developments through the STS interdisciplinary lens by developing and applying skills in three areas: (a) The historical analysis of contemporary global matters (e.g., spread of technologies; climate change response); (b) The bioethical reasoning around health issues (e.g., disease management; privacy rights); and (c) The sociological study of knowledge (e.g., intellectual property, science publishing). A discussion section is required and will be assigned the first week of class.
STS 103Q. Reading and Writing Poetry about Science. 4 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, astronomy, physics, earth science, and medicine, as well as on technological advances and calamities. Poets such as Linda Bierds, Mark Doty, Albert Goldbarth, Sarah Lindsay, W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Pattiann Rogers, Tracy K. Smith, Arthur Sze, and C. K. Williams. Grounding in poetics, research in individually chosen areas of science, weekly analytical and creative writing. Fulfills the Creative Expression requirement. Enrollment limited to 12.
STS 131. Science Technology & Environmental Justice. 4 Units.
The Bay Area is renowned for its technological innovations and progressive politics, including environmental justice activism. This course explores the multifaceted intersections of science, technology, and environmental issues, in the Bay Area and beyond. It also facilitates students' engagement with Wikipedia, as contributors and analysts. Throughout, students investigate the politics of place, with an eye to inequalities of race, class, gender, age, disability, and citizenship. Topics include: Internet and "new economy" geographies; public health and urban planning; food systems; climate change; innovation policy; "undone science.".
STS 140. Science, Technology and Politics. 5 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 191. Introduction to Research in STS. 4 Units.
This seminar introduces key analytical approaches and methodologies in STS, as well as basic tools for conducting original research in STS. Students survey a series of influential empirical studies; identify productive questions of their own interest; and explore how to pursue them through strong research design. Research proposal as final assignment. Preference to STS juniors; others require consent of instructor. The final proposal can serve as an honors prospectus for students who seek to participate in the STS honors program.
STS 199. Independent Study. 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. Instructor consent required. Please contact the department for a permission number.
STS 199A. Curricular Practical Training. 1 Unit.
Students obtain internship in a relevant research or industrial activity to enhance their professional experience consistent with their degree program and area of concentration. Prior to enrolling students must get internship approved by the STS Program Director. At the end of the quarter, a one-page final report must be supplied documenting work done and relevance to degree program. Meets the requirements for Curricular Practical Training for students on F-1 visas. Student is responsible for arranging own internship. Limited to declared STS majors only. Course may be repeated twice. Instructor consent required. Please contact the department for a permission number.
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 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 200H. Ethics, Science, & Technology. 4 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 200J. Advanced Topics in Agnotology. 4-5 Units.
Advanced research into the history of ignorance. Our goal will be to explore how ignorance is created, maintained and destroyed, using case studies from topics such as tobacco denialism, global climate denialism, and other forms of resistance to knowledge making. Course culminates in a research paper on the theory and practice of agnotology, the science of ignorance.
Same as: HISTORY 204D, HISTORY 304D
STS 200K. Sciences of Learning. 4 Units.
Understanding the process of learning has enticed and eluded scientists for generations. Abetted by the rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs), learning has attracted new cadres of researchers and stars from scientists in adjacent fields, as well as new forms of financial support and visibility. This seminar investigates the recent dynamics of learning science as a case study in the politics of knowledge. Student projects will enable focused empirical inquiry.
STS 200L. Critique of Technology. 3-5 Units.
Informed citizens living in today's world, and especially in Silicon Valley, should be able to formulate their own, articulate positions about the role of technology in culture. The course gives students the tools to do so. Against the trend towards the thoughtless celebration of all things technological, we will engage in critique in the two senses of the term: as careful study of the cultural implications of technology and as balanced, argumentative criticism. Can technology make life more meaningful, society more fair, people smarter, and the world smaller? Selections by fiction writers, philosophers and thinkers (such as Heidegger and Beller), as well as recent popular works of social commentary, such as You are not a Gadget, The Shallows, 24/7, and Present Shock.
Same as: ILAC 235
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.