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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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Science, Technology, and Society

The Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) focuses on the ways in which scientific, technological, and social factors interact to shape modern life. The program brings together humanists, social scientists, engineers, and natural scientists, all committed to transcending the boundaries of their disciplines in a joint search for new insights and new ways of reaching science and engineering students. The goal of the program is to set up a forum to explore the relationship between what scientists and engineers do and the constraints, needs, and responses of society.

Located in a major university where most people study science and engineering, STS is dedicated to understanding the context of science and engineering.

Undergraduate Study

MIT students are increasingly seeking to understand the social and historical contexts in which they will work and the social consequences of what they will do in their professional careers. STS subjects help them think realistically and creatively about the intellectual, moral, political, and social issues raised by the rapid growth of science and technology in the 20th century and beyond.

STS contributes to undergraduate education at MIT in several ways. It offers general subjects to introduce students to broad social and intellectual perspectives on science and engineering fields. It also offers more specialized subjects in the history of science and technology and in social and cultural studies of science and technology. Within each of these categories, students can choose both introductory and more advanced subjects.

The HASS concentration in STS requires three STS subjects, at least one and not more than two of which must be selected from the following list of Tier I subjects.

Minor in Science, Technology, and Society

The goal of the minor program is to give students a broad social perspective on the fields of engineering and science: how they have evolved and how they fit into the wider context of society, culture, politics, and values.

The Minor in Science, Technology, and Society consists of six STS subjects, including STS.091 Critical Issues in STS, at least one subject from the Tier I list, and at least one subject from the Tier II list.

Tier I    
STS.001   Technology in American History
STS.003   The Rise of Modern Science
STS.004   Intersections: Science, Technology, and the World
STS.006J   Bioethics
STS.007   Technology in History
STS.008   Technology and Experience
STS.009   Evolution and Society
STS.010   Neuroscience and Society

Tier II   All other STS subjects (see http://web.mit.edu/sts/academic/tier2.html)

 

Double Major
[see degree chart]

For students who wish to integrate their professional study of engineering or science with a rigorous treatment of its relation to social and historical forces, STS offers a double major in cooperation with the Schools of Engineering and Science. The object of this program is to give those students the full technical and scientific education provided by a science or engineering major, balanced with intensive study of the historical and social contexts of science and technology. Double major applications from students in other Schools (e.g., Architecture and Planning; Management; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students in the double major program must complete all the requirements of their majors as well as the STS requirements described below. In addition, they must write an STS thesis. If the second major also requires a thesis, students may coordinate their thesis effort pending approval of undergraduate officers in both majors.

The STS requirements include 14 subjects as follows: at least one STS Tier I subject; at least one Tier II subject; five other STS subjects; STS.091 Critical Issues in STS; pre-thesis tutorial; the thesis; and four subjects related to the historical and social study of science and technology. Further details on the requirements of this double major may be obtained from the STS undergraduate academic officer and the STS academic administrator.

Joint Degree Programs

Students who wish to integrate studies in STS and science or engineering in the context of a single degree should consider this program. It leads to one degree, either a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Science or a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Engineering.

Students who take this degree must complete eight STS subjects (including at least one STS Tier I subject, at least one STS Tier II subject, and STS.091 Critical Issues in STS), plus a pre-thesis tutorial and a thesis.

Consult the 21E/21S degree chart for details on the requirements for this joint degree. Further details may be obtained from the SHASS Dean's Office, Room 4-240, hass-www@mit.edu, and the STS academic administrator.

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Graduate Study

In collaboration, STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology Program offer a doctoral program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS).

The objective of the program is to develop advanced competence in the study of science and technology from a historical and social scientific perspective. Students are expected to develop professional mastery of a field of history or one of the social sciences. They must also master the underlying concepts in science and engineering that relate to their special field of interest.

Graduate students are required to take at least 10 subjects and usually complete them within their first two years. Normally, all students take the required introductory seminars, 21H.991, 21A.859J and STS.260 in their first year. Students are encouraged to take 21A.809 or 21A.819J at some point in their program. To fulfill the remaining subject requirement, students choose from among several departmental seminars designed to offer more in-depth study of particular topics. They may also take subjects offered by other MIT departments and through cross-registration with Harvard.

Upon the satisfactory completion of general examinations in the third year, students proceed to the writing of a dissertation proposal and dissertation, usually with the assistance of a multidisciplinary advisory committee.

Students from any academic discipline are invited to apply to the doctoral program.

For additional information about the graduate program, visit the HASTS website at http://web.mit.edu/hasts/, or contact the STS academic administrator, Room E51-163, 617-253-9759.

Inquiries

Additional information on the Program in Science, Technology, and Society may be obtained from the STS academic administrator, Room E51-163, 617-253-9759, http://web.mit.edu/sts/.

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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

David Kaiser, PhD
Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science
Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics
MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Program Director

Professors

Michael M. J. Fischer, PhD
Professor of Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies
Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities

Deborah Fitzgerald, PhD
Professor of the History of Technology
Dean, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Jennifer S. Light, PhD
Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Kenneth Rogers Manning, PhD
Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and the History of Science

David A. Mindell, PhD
Frances and David Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Director, Laboratory for Automation, Robotics, and Society

Theodore A. Postol, PhD
Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy

Merritt Roe Smith, PhD
Leverett Howell and William King Cutten Professor of the History of Technology

Sherry Turkle, PhD
Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology

Rosalind H. Williams, PhD
Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology

Associate Professors

Clapperton Mavhunga, PhD
Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Natasha Schüll, PhD
Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Hanna Rose Shell, PhD
Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Adjunct Professor

John Durant, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Science, Technology, and Society

Senior Lecturer

Leo Marx, PhD
William R. Kenan Professor of American Cultural History, Emeritus

Professors Emeriti

Louis Lawrence Bucciarelli, PhD
Professor of Engineering and Technology Studies, Emeritus

Loren R. Graham, PhD
Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus

Evelyn Fox Keller, PhD
Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Emerita

Kenneth Keniston, PhD
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Human Development, Emeritus

Leo Marx, PhD
William R. Kenan Professor of American Cultural History, Emeritus

Eugene B. Skolnikoff, PhD
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Leon Trilling, PhD
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Emeritus

 

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