Science and Technology Studies (STS) was born of the realization that urgent social challenges are rooted in scientific worldviews and technological practices. It is a multidisciplinary social science and humanities field devoted to critical inquiry about the mutual shaping of science, technology, and society. Rensselaer established the first Ph.D.-granting STS Department in the United States. It is a world-class group of students and faculty, globally renowned for cutting edge research, and an innovative curriculum.
The faculty includes science and technology studies scholars, economists, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, a social psychologist, and a communications scholar. They focus on complex, interdisciplinary research questions at the intersection of culture, society, and political-economy. Whether one is interested in the role of science and technology in design, medicine and health, race, class, gender, politics and policy, or STEM education, there are faculty members with whom to work.
STS majors, who come from around the world, and from diverse backgrounds, go on to leadership roles in business, government, and the nonprofit world, or to further studies in graduate and professional schools.
The STS bachelor’s program of study requires 124 credit hours, including the standard Rensselaer 24-credit hour humanities and social sciences requirement and 24-credit hour science requirement (including math). At least 32 credit hours are required within the student’s major. These must be accompanied by 16 credit hours in a technical area (the Technical Option) relevant to this STS major.
The 32 credit hours includes the following: STSH/STSS 1110 Science, Technology, and Society, two 2000-level courses, five 4000-level courses, including two methods courses; a public service internship, and a senior project or thesis. Students work with their advisers to develop an individual plan of study.
Students must also satisfy the humanities and social science core program, which can be achieved through STSH courses for humanities credit and STSS courses for social sciences credit. Some STS courses are offered with the IHSS code in the first year studies program; all courses with an IHSS code may be counted for either humanities or social sciences credit.
Built into the program are several important elements. Among these is a part-time internship in a government agency or other setting where social issues in science and technology are addressed. Additional elements include skills training in research methods; strong development of speaking and writing skills; and opportunities to serve as faculty research assistants.
In cooperation with a curriculum adviser and faculty mentor, each student tailors a program of study to his or her interests. So, for example, a student interested in bioengineering issues can combine technical courses from the Department of Biomedical Engineering with STS courses such as STSS 2400 Medicine and Society, STSH 4210 Engineering Ethics, STSS 4350 Politics of Design and STSS 4560 Gender, Science and Technology. An internship with a surgical robotics medical practice, a women’s health center, or a state senator’s office reporting on technology and health care and a senior project defining the STS issues for audiences of policy makers are among the many opportunities for students interested in technology and health care. A comparable set of coursework and internship opportunities may be arranged for those interested in other professional and pre-professional tracks including medicine, law, engineering, and information technology, as well as for those interested in pursuing graduate studies in STS.
The template below provides a sample STS curriculum. Courses below referred to as advanced options are 4000-level courses. Alternative courses can be chosen with a faculty adviser.