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Undergraduate Minor in Science, Technology and Society (STS)

Minor Code: M075 - Sci, Technology, & Society

Today more than ever, innovations in science, medicine, and technology are transforming the way we live. The STS minor is designed to help students to understand how science and technology both shape and reflect our values, norms, and institutions. The STS Minor offers a wide selection of courses that address the processes, products, and effects of science and technology, and explores their cultural, political, and ethical implications. It allows students to bridge disciplinary interests, expand their research skills, and acquire the analytical versatility needed to compete in an increasingly globalizing market, driven by science and technology.

Minor Requirements

  • 7 courses (28 units), with a minimum of 5 upper-division classes
  • Courses in 3 or more of the minor’s 4 subfields: philosophy, history, sociology, and communication. 
  • Up to 2 courses can be taken Pass/No Pass.

Sixth College students: CAT 1 counts towards the STS minor. 

Use the minor checklist (PDF) to help you plan courses, and contact us through the Virtual Advising Center for assistance. 

Declare the STS Minor, learn how and why science and technology are transforming the way we live, and acquire a powerful skill set for life!   

Potential Career Paths:

  • Public advocacy
  • Business consultant
  • Health Care management
  • Science museums
  • Arms control and Nonproliferation
  • Biotechnologies
  • Economic policy
  • Environmental agencies
  • Journalism
  • Law

Tentative Courses

*Indicates courses that must be petitioned. Please see the schedule of classes for official course offerings.

Winter 2020 Course Offerings (PDF)

Fall 2019 Course Offerings (PDF)

Fall 2019

Winter 2020

Spring 2020


SOCI 30: Science, Technology & Society




*SOCI 114: Sociology of Humor

*SOCI 173: Sociology of Health, Illness, and Medicine


HISC 107: The Emergence of Modern Science




HISC 115: History of Medicine




COMM 174: Communication and Social Machines



*COMM 153: Architecture as Communication



*COMM 173: Interaction with Technology



*PHIL 12: Scientific Reasoning


*PHIL 149: Philosophy of Psychology


*PHIL 173: Topics in Bioethics


Visual Arts:

*VIS 152: Film in Social Context



STS Minor Courses


PHIL 12 Scientific Reasoning

Strategies of scientific inquiry: how elementary logic, statistical inference, and experimental design are integrated to evaluate hypotheses in the natural and social sciences.

PHIL 32: Philosophy and the Rise of Modern Science
Beginning with the contrast between medieval and early modern thought, the course focuses on the relation of seventeenth-century philosophy and the emergence of modern natural science. Figures to be studied include Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, and Newton.
PHIL 145: Philosophy of Science
Central problems in philosophy of science, such as the nature of confirmation and explanation, the nature of scientific revolutions and progress, the unity of science, and realism and antirealism.
PHIL 146: Philosophy of Physics
Philosophical problems in the development of modern physics, such as the philosophy of space and time, the epistemology of geometry, the philosophical significance of Einstein’s theory of relativity, the interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the significance of modern cosmology.
PHIL 147: Philosophy of Biology
Philosophical problems in the biological sciences, such as the relation between biology and the physical sciences, the status and structure of evolutionary theory, and the role of biology in the social sciences.
PHIL 148: Philosophy and the Environment
Investigation of ethical and epistemological questions concerning our relationship to the environment. Topics may include the value of nature, biodiversity, policy and science, and responsibility to future generations.
PHIL 149: Philosophy of Psychology
Philosophical issues raised by psychology, including the nature of psychological explanation, the role of nature versus nurture, free will and determinism, and the unity of the person.
PHIL 152: Philosophy of Social Science
Philosophical issues of method and substance in the social sciences, such as causal and interpretive models of explanation, structuralism and methodological individualism, value neutrality, and relativism.
PHIL 163: Biomedical Ethics
Moral issues in medicine and the biological sciences, such as patient’s rights and physician’s responsibilities, abortion and euthanasia, the distribution of health care, experimentation, and genetic intervention.


HISC 106: The Scientific Revolution
A cultural history of the formation of early modern sciences in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the social forms of scientific life; the construction and meaning of the new cosmologies from Copernicus to Newton; the science of politics and the politics of science; the origins of experimental practice; how Sir Isaac Newton restored law and order to the West.
HISC 107: The Emergence of Modern Science
The development of the modern conception of the sciences, and of the modern social and institutional structure of scientific activity, chiefly in Europe, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
HISC 108: History of 20th Century Life Science
Major developments in life sciences in the twentieth century, including the evolutionary synthesis, genetics, and developmental biology. Emphasizes how the model organisms scientists use -- from bacteriophage to fruit flies to humans -- shape both their questions and their answers.
HISC 110: Historical Encounters of Science and Religion
There was no such thing as a single, unchanging relationship between science and religion, and this is a course about it. Topics include the “Conflict Thesis,” natural theology, the Galileo Affair, Darwinism, the antievolution crusade, creationism, secularization, atheism, and psychoanalysis.
HISC 115: History of Medicine
Explores the origin of clinical method, the hospital, internal surgery, and the medical laboratory, as well as the historical roots of debates over health-care reform, genetic determinism, and the medicalization of society.
HISC 116: History of Bioethics
The story behind the postwar rise of bioethics—medical scandals breaking in the mass media, the development of novel technologies for saving and prolonging life, the emergence of new diseases, the unprecedented scope for manipulation opened up by biology.
HISC 131: Science, Technology, and Law
Science and law are two of the most powerful establishments of modern Western culture. Science organizes our knowledge of the world; law directs our action in it. This course will explore the historical roots of the interplay between them.
SIO 286: Marine Science, Economics and Policy
This course investigates global issues in marine conservation and potential policy solutions. The approach is interdisciplinary, fast-paced, and discussion oriented. Students will become acquainted with sufficient background in marine biology, ecology, marine and conservation economics, international law, and policy as preparation for discussion on real-world issues in marine conservation.


SOCI 30: Science, Technology, and Society
A series of case studies of the relations between society and modern science, technology, and medicine. Global warming, reproductive medicine, AIDS, and other topical cases prompt students to view science-society interactions as problematic and complex.
SOCI 40: Health Care and Society
Designed as a broad introduction to medicine as a social institution and its relationship to other institutions as well as its relation to society. It will make use of both micro and macro sociological work in this area and introduce students to sociological perspectives of contemporary health-care issues. Will not receive credit for SOCI 40 and SOCL 40.
SOCI 134B: The Making of Modern Medicine
A study of the social, intellectual, and institutional aspects of the nineteenth-century transformation of clinical medicine, examining the changing content of medical knowledge and therapeutics, and the organization of the medical profession.
SOCI 136E: Sociology of Mental Illness: An Historical Approach
An examination of the social, cultural, and political factors involved in the identification and treatment of mental illness. This course will emphasize historical material, focusing on the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. Developments in England as well as the United States will be examined from an historical perspective.
SOCI 136F: Sociology of Mental Illness in Contemporary Society
This course will focus on recent developments in the mental illness sector and on the contemporary sociological literature on mental illness. Developments in England as well as the United States will be examined.
SOCI 150: Madness and the Movies
Hollywood has had an ongoing obsession with mental illness. This course will examine a number of important or iconic films on this subject. By examining them against a background provided by relevant scholarly materials, we shall develop a critical perspective on these cultural artifacts.
SOCI 166: Sociology of Knowledge
This course provides a general introduction to the development of the sociology of knowledge, and will explore questions concerning social determination of consciousness as well as theoretical ways to articulate a critique of ideology.
SOCI 167: Science and War
This class examines how science has been mobilized in the development of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The class applies sociological concepts to the analysis of modern technological violence.
SOC 168E: Sociology of Science
A survey of theoretical and empirical studies concerning the workings of the scientific community and its relations with the wider society. Special attention will be given to institutionalization of the scientific role and to the social constitution of scientific knowledge.
SOC 170: Gender and Science
Scientific practices have had a tremendous impact on our understandings of gender.  Gender relations have also significantly influenced the character of scientific inquiry.  The course will consider how and why these two processes intertwine.
SOC 171: Technology and Society
Does improved technology mean progress? Or, are environmental pollution and social alienation signs that technology is out of control? This class uncovers the social problems of key modern technologies such as automobile transport, factory farming, biotechnology, and nuclear power.


COMM 106I: Internet Industry
The political economy of the emergent Internet industry, charted through analysis of its hardware, software, and services components. The course specifies leading trends and changing institutional outcomes by relating the Internet industry to the adjoining media, telecommunications, and computer industries. 

COMM 108D: The Politics of Bodies (POB) Disability
Cultural and historical ways of defining and understanding disability relative to communication and assistive technologies, including the impact of digital technologies and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Course use of audiovisual texts and writings from fields including science and technology studies, and cultural studies.

COMM 108G: POB Gender and Biomedicine
Historical and cultural aspects of media, information, imaging technology use in biomedical research, clinical care, health communication to constructions of gender and identity. We approach the subject through audiovisual texts and writings from fields including science and technology studies and cultural studies.
COMM 112T: Interaction with Technology
In this class we will look closely at the everyday ways in which we interact with technology to discuss sociocultural character of objects, built environments; situated, distributed, and embodied character of knowledge; use of multimodal semiotic resources, talk, gesture, body orientation, gaze in interaction with technology.
COMM 114G: CSI Gender and Science
This course will focus on arguments about cognitive differences between men and women in science. We will review current arguments about essential differences, historical beliefs about gender attributes and cognitive ability, and gender socialization into patterns of learning in school.
COMM 143: Science Fiction
Focuses on science fiction’s critical investigation of history, identity, and society across a range of media forms, including film, television, and literature.
COMM 166: Surveillance, the Media, and the Risk Society
Contributions of the field of communication to the study of surveillance and risk. Critical and legal perspectives on consumer research, copyright enforcement, the surveillance capacity of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), closed-circuit television, interactive media, and the “rhetorics of surveillance” in television and film.

COMM 174: Communication and Social Machines
An examination of the questions that developments in robotics pose to the scholars of communication: How do we communicate when our interlocutors are nonhumans? How do we study objects that are claimed to be endowed with social and affective character?

Critical Gender Studies

CGS 2A: Key Terms & Concepts

This course will be a general introduction to the key terms, issues, and concepts in the fields of gender and sexuality studies.

Ethnic Studies

ETHN 102: Science, Technology, and Society - Race, Gender, Class
This course examines the role of science and technology in forming popular conceptions of race, gender, and class and vice versa. We also consider how some populations benefit from the results of experimentation while others come to be its subjects

Sixth College

CAT 1: Culture, Art, and Technology 1
Fall courses focus on critical reading and questions like “What is a text?” or “How can an artifact or source be analyzed?” or “Why is the same object of study approached differently in different fields?” 


Visual Arts

VIS 159: History of Art and Technology
Aims to provide historical context for computer arts by examining the interaction between the arts, media technologies, and sciences in different historical periods. Topics vary (e.g., Renaissance perspective, futurism and technology, and computer art of the 1950s and 1960s)