Undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) at Stevens will have new study options this fall – a newly-launched program in Science & Technology Studies (STS). The program is designed to educate and prepare the next generation of leaders to be literate, articulate, technically proficient and ethically responsible regarding all aspects of science and technology.
“STS will allow our students to conduct rigorous and in-depth study of the societal impact of advances in science and technology, and then effectively communicate that message to a wider audience. This is perfectly in line with the pedagogical mission of Stevens since its founding over 140 years ago,” said CAL Dean Lisa Dolling.
The need for a STS program is evident in the search for solutions to the major issues of the 21st century – from global climate change to sustainable economic growth to the alleviation of poverty and disease – which will undoubtedly require leaders to tap into power of science and technology. In fact, STS is already a well-established and growing field offered by scores of colleges and universities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, and especially widespread at technological universities and engineering schools.
“This program is extremely well-suited for CAL given Stevens’ focus on science and technology,” said Dolling, who hopes to enroll 50 or more majors in the program in the next four years. “Our students are already keenly interested in these subjects and many of them already possess extensive technical domain expertise.”
By establishing the program, CAL is also capitalizing on the collective knowledge of its existing faculty members, who have taught and conducted research on numerous subjects at the intersection of the humanities and science and technology, including: the philosophy of biology; the sociology of technology; federal regulation of innovation; medical ethics; science and literature; the globalization of engineering; the history of telecommunications; and the politics of urban redevelopment.
“Formalizing STS into an academic program was a natural progression for our faculty in CAL,” said Professor Andrew Russell, STS program director. “Many of us came from STS-type backgrounds. This is what we do best – apply the methods of the humanities and social sciences to the study of science and technology.”
The STS program consists of two new majors – a B.A. in Science Communication and a B.S. in Science, Technology & Society.
The Science Communication major trains students to convey information about science, technology and medicine in a wide variety of media, including newspapers, blogs, radio, television, magazines and company and government reports. The major will prepare students for careers in science journalism, public outreach on scientific topics, or even within technical industries such as pharmaceuticals, finance or media as communications professionals. Graduates could also enter academia or government.
Science Communication majors will especially benefit from the program’s connection to the Center for Science Writings at Stevens, which sponsors talks by renowned science writers and is led by one of the world’s best known and well-respected science journalists, John Horgan, author of the best-selling work The End of Science, as well as the more recent The End of War. Professor Horgan intends to make the talks sponsored by the Center a key feature of the program. After reading the latest work by guest speakers, students will have the opportunity to have dinner with them and discuss the details of their work.
“Above all, the students who chose to major in Science Communication will acquire the ability to effectively communicate to professional and lay audiences about environmental issues, technological advances and complex technical subjects which shape society —a skill which is in high demand in today’s world,” Dolling said.
The goal of the Science, Technology & Society major is to equip students to develop policy-based solutions to emerging ethical issues in science and technology by understanding how these fields shape society and vice versa. Graduates will gain the critical thinking and communication skills needed to prepare them for fields such as policy-making, regulatory agencies, public health and social entrepreneurship, or to gain acceptance into graduate programs in medicine, law, business, information science or public policy.
Science, Technology & Society students will also be encouraged to pursue double-majors in one of the many science or engineering disciplines offered through the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science at Stevens.
“People who understand this dynamic and who can direct the power of science and technology in responsible ways are perfect for countless careers,” Dolling said.
Russell said preparing students to succeed professionally is just one part of the mission of the STS program.
“It is an obligation for faculty in the humanities and social sciences to prepare students for the world they are going to face – not only professionally, but civically,” he said. “To truly understand and contribute to the world around them, they’ll need to be conversant in complex issues like healthcare, information technology, the environment, and new media. It’s clear we can’t do our jobs without including science and technology in the conversation.”
With the addition of the STS program, CAL now consists of three full-fledged programs (formerly called divisions), eight bachelors-level majors, and one M.A. in Technology, Policy & Ethics.
Learn more about CAL at /cal/.