Science & Technology in Society

Science and Technology in Society courses explore scientific and technological ideas and practices in their social and historical contexts, providing a foundation to assess their promise and perils. STS courses engage students in the practice of science, not just the study of scientific findings.

In STS courses, students  do one or more of the following: 

  • Engage in scientific methods of inquiry, such as theoretical framing, structured observation or experimentation, and quantitative analysis.
  • Examine the influence of social, economic, cultural, and political factors on science and engineering.
  • Analyze the ethical, social, and political implications of scientific and technological ideas and practices, including their potential and risks.

The following courses fulfill the Science & Technology in Society requirement 

Human Evolution and Human Health (Gen Ed 1027)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

How did the human body evolve to be the way it is, and how does that evolutionary history influence how we can promote health and prevent disease?

 

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Daniel Lieberman

How and why did humans evolve to be the way we are, and what are the implications of our evolved anatomy and physiology for human health in a post-industrial world? Why do we get sick, and how can we use principles of evolution to improve health and wellbeing?... Read more about Human Evolution and Human Health (Gen Ed 1027)

Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2021

What does it mean to be human, from a biological perspective – and how did we get that way?

 

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Erin Hecht and Martin Surbeck

This course asks: What makes us behaviorally and psychologically human? In what ways are humans similar to other species and in what ways are we different? What are the evolutionary origins of the behavioral and psychological features found across human societies including parental love, sibling rivalry, pair-bonding, incest aversion, social status, war, norms, altruism, religion, language, and cooking?... Read more about Human Nature (Gen Ed 1056)

Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice (Gen Ed 1129)

Semester: 

N/A

Should we have been better prepared to mitigate the inequities that we are witnessing with COVID-19?

 

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Donald Goldmann and Ken McIntosh

Advances in prevention and treatment of infectious disease have left large segments of the global population behind. This course studies the societal impacts of nine infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, plague, polio, cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, syphilis, and tuberculosis.... Read more about Infectious Diseases and Social Injustice (Gen Ed 1129)

Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

Is there alien life beyond Earth?

 

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Dimitar Sasselov

What is it about Earth that enables life to thrive? This question was reinvigorated with the 2016 ground-breaking discovery of a habitable planet around the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. A decade of exploration confirmed that such planets are common in our galaxy, and the commonality of habitable planets has raised anew some age-old questions: Where do we come from? What is it to be human? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe?... Read more about Life as a Planetary Phenomenon (Gen Ed 1070)

Natural Disasters (Gen Ed 1098)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

What makes our planet so dangerous?

 

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Brendan Meade

Poster for Gen Ed 1098 - Natural Disasters. Image is a satellite photograph of a hurricane. Text includes course time (Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30-1145am) and location (Haller Hall, Geology Museum).

From Mexico to India, San Francisco to Tokyo, natural disasters have shaped both the surface of our planet and the development of civilizations. These catastrophes claim thousands of lives and cause tens of billions of dollars in damage each year, and the impact of natural disasters is only increasing as a result of human population growth and urbanization. This course uses the methods and skills associated with earth science to help you to develop an understanding of both the causes and impacts of these events.... Read more about Natural Disasters (Gen Ed 1098)

Numbers in Policy and Society (Gen Ed 1173)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How can we critically assess the data, models, and numbers used in making policy and hold to account those with the power to produce them?

 

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Sheila Jasanoff and Sam Weiss Evans

The ability to critically assess numbers, data and models and hold to account those with the power to generate them is a vital capability for every 21st century citizen. This course will give you an increased understanding of why some important ethical and political perspectives fail to enter into the design of the scientific and technical systems that permeate our societies.... Read more about Numbers in Policy and Society (Gen Ed 1173)

Prediction: The Past and Present of the Future (Gen Ed 1112)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

How and why do humans try to divine their own futures?

 

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Alyssa Goodman

Human beings are the only creatures in the animal kingdom properly defined as worriers. We are the only ones who expend tremendous amounts of time, energy, and resources trying (sometimes obsessively) to understand our futures before they happen. While the innate ability of individual people to predict has not changed much in the past few millennia, developments in mathematical and conceptual models have inordinately improved predictive systems.... Read more about Prediction: The Past and Present of the Future (Gen Ed 1112)

Pride & Prejudice & P-values: Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

How can we (as individuals and as whole societies) better incorporate into our thinking and decision making the problem-solving techniques characteristic of science at its best?

 

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Edward J. Hall and Douglas Finkbeiner

We humans have developed rational and systematic methods for solving problems, ways carefully designed to chart a reliable path to the truth. Yet we as individuals, as groups, as whole societies fail to take full advantage of these methods.... Read more about Pride & Prejudice & P-values: Scientific Critical Thinking (Gen Ed 1024)

Psychotherapy and the Modern Self (Gen Ed 1179)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

How can we understand the appeal of psychotherapy, widely recognized as the preferred antidote to human unhappiness and misery, and what does it offer that friends, family, self-help, and psychopharmacological remedies do not?

 

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Elizabeth Lunbeck

What does psychotherapy offer our distressed selves that friends, family, self-help, and psychopharmacological remedies do not? The demand for therapy is currently at an all-time high, bolstering its century-long hegemony as the preferred antidote to human unhappiness and misery, even as it is under sustained attack from critics characterizing it as self-indulgent as well as from platforms that would replace human therapists with chatbots, analysts with algorithms.... Read more about Psychotherapy and the Modern Self (Gen Ed 1179)

Science of Stress (Gen Ed 1162)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

What are the causes and consequences of stress, and what are the most effective strategies for coping with stress?

 

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Katie A. McLaughlin

Stress is a universal human experience. What is stress and why do we experience it? How does stress influence our emotions and the way we think and behave? What are common causes of stress in our modern world? What are the consequences of stress for our health and well-being? Why are some people more vulnerable to developing stress-related illnesses than others? And perhaps most importantly – what are the most effective strategies for coping with stress?

... Read more about Science of Stress (Gen Ed 1162)

Sleep (Gen Ed 1038)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

How does sleep affect your health, your safety, and our society?

 

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Charles Czeisler and Frank A.J.L. Scheer

What is sleep? Why do we sleep? Why don't we sleep? How much sleep do you need? What are circadian rhythms? How do technology and culture impact sleep? This course will explore the role of sleep and circadian timing in maintaining health, improving performance and enhancing safety.... Read more about Sleep (Gen Ed 1038)

Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2019

Ethics & Civics icon with textScience & Technology in Society icon with text

Michael Sandel and Doug Melton

The course explores the moral, social, and political implications of new technologies. Will biotechnology and AI enable us to hack humanity? Should we edit the genes of our children, extend the human lifespan, and genetically enhance our athletic ability and IQ? Can algorithms be fair? Will robots make work obsolete? Can smart machines outthink us? In an age of big data and social media, is privacy over? Is democracy?... Read more about Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature (Gen Ed 1058)

The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future (Gen Ed 1137)

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

What can we do now to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change, which poses an immediate problem for global society?

 

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Michael B. McElroy

Human induced climate change has the potential to alter the function of natural ecosystems and the lives of people on a global scale. The prospect lies not in the distant future but is imminent. Our choice is either to act immediately to change the nature of our global energy system (abandon our dependence on fossil fuels) or accept the consequences (included among which are increased incidence of violent storms, fires, floods and droughts, changes in the spatial distribution and properties of critical ecosystems, and rising sea level).... Read more about The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future (Gen Ed 1137)

See all Science & Technology in Society courses

Gen Ed Categories

Aesthetics & Culture icon
 

Aesthetics & Culture

Aesthetics & Culture courses foster critical engagement with diverse artistic and creative endeavors and traditions across history and geographical locations, helping students situate themselves and others as participants in and products of art and culture. 

In A&C courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Explore how aesthetic objects and practices affect our senses, emotions, and thoughts, and invite our interpretations.
  • Engage directly with aesthetic objects, practices, and texts, broadly conceived, to develop students’ skills of close reading, listening, and observation and to support analysis of the production and reception of these objects in their cultural contexts.
  • Engage in critical analysis of artistic and cultural production from a variety of approaches, including art-making, hands-on, or participatory/experiential assignments.
  • Examine the roles that artistic and creative endeavors play in shaping and reshaping societies.

 

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Ethics & Civics

Ethics & Civics courses examine the dilemmas that individuals, communities, and societies face as they explore questions of virtue, justice, equity, inclusion, and the greater good. 

In E&C courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Analyze the foundations and ramifications of diverse modes of ethical inquiry and practice.
  • Situate ideas about ethics and civic engagement in their historical, cultural, and social contexts.
  • Explore real-world ethical questions, ranging from problems in individual lives to the challenges of meeting civic responsibility at local, national, and global levels.

 

Histories, Societies, Individuals icon
 

Histories, Societies, Individuals

Histories, Societies, Individuals courses explore the dynamic relationships between individuals and larger social, economic and political structures, both historically and in the present moment. 

In HSI courses, students do one or more of the following:

  • Examine change over time to understand the historical origins of the contemporary world.
  • Analyze the interplay between individuals, groups, and larger social, economic, and political structures in the making of the modern world.
  • Compare societies across time and space to broaden students’ understandings of the complexities of global experiences.
Science & Technology in Society icon
 

Science & Technology in Society

Science & Technology in Society courses explore scientific and technological ideas and practices in their social and historical contexts, providing a foundation to assess their promise and perils. STS courses engage students in the practice of science, not just the study of scientific findings.

In STS courses, students  do one or more of the following: 

  • Engage in scientific methods of inquiry, such as theoretical framing, structured observation or experimentation, and quantitative analysis.
  • Examine the influence of social, economic, cultural, and political factors on science and engineering.
  • Analyze the ethical, social, and political implications of scientific and technological ideas and practices, including their potential and risks.

 

Courses by Semester

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