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 research on the cultural, historical, economic, political, and social dimensions of scientific and technological society.
Students in the Ph.D. program learn to conduct cutting-edge research based in three interlocking practices:
- Scholarly analysis of historical and contemporary cultures of research and innovation.
- Critique of the public policies, social practices, and political-economic institutions that shape, and are shaped by, scientific discovery and technological design.
- Direct participation in collaborative projects that bring about change in the domains of science, medicine, design, and engineering.
Graduates typically go on to be researchers, professors, planners, and advisers in academic, government, and private institutions.
The curriculum requires a total of 72 credit hours (up to 30 in dissertation). Required courses in the core are STSS 6200 Science Studies, STSS 6040 Technology Studies, STSS 6100 Policy Studies, STSS 6120 Advanced Research Methods, and a theory option. STSS 6360 Advanced Contemporary Political Thought, and topics courses such as STSS 6961 Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, STSS 6962 Social Theory, and STSS 6963 Feminist and Postcolonial Theory, or other STS graduate courses approved by the graduate committee meet the theory option. The graduate director may also approve substitutions of other relevant courses. Remaining course work is drawn from policy studies, science studies, technology studies, practicums, and electives. Students who enter the program without a master’s degree may apply to earn one along the way to the Ph.D.
Outcomes of the Graduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:
- conduct scholarly analysis of historical and contemporary cultures of research and innovation.
- critically analyze the public policies and political-economic institutions that shape, and are shaped by, scientific discovery and technological design.
- participate in collaborative projects that have the ability to bring about change in the domains of science, medicine, design, and engineering.
- design and articulate research problems and conduct independent, original, and significant research.
- communicate effectively to specialized and general audiences.