Science,Technology and Society Program

Director: Janet Gray (Psychology); Steering Committee: James F. Challey (Physics and Science, Technology and Society), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Robert E. McAulay (Sociology), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), Nancy Pokrywka (Biology); Participating Faculty: James F. Challey (Physics and Science, Technology, and Society), Elizabeth Collins (Biology), David Esteban (Biology), Janet Gray (Psychology), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Shirley Johnson-Lans (Economics), Robert E. McAulay (Sociology), Sarjit Kaur (Chemistry), Bill Lunt (Economics), Alan Marco (Economics), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), Nancy Pokrywka (Biology), Molly Shanley (Political Science), Barry DeCoster (Adjunct in Bioethics), Jonah Triebwasser (Adjunct in Law and Technology).

The multidisciplinary program in Science, Technology, and Society is designed to enable students to pursue three objectives: a) to understand the central role of science and technology in contemporary society; b) to examine how science and technology reflect their social, political, philosophical, economic and cultural contexts; and c) to explore the human, ethical and policy implications of current and emerging technologies.

Students interested in the program are urged to plan for declaration as early as possible in their college careers. Freshmen and sophomores should talk with the director concerning courses to be taken in the freshman and sophomore years.

Course Requirements: 141//2 units including: (1) Non-science disciplinary requirements: 3 units including Introductory Sociology (SOCI 151); Microeconomics (ECON 101); and at least one course selected from Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 140), Readings in Modern European History (HIST 121), Readings in U.S. History (HIST 160), Philosophy and Contemporary Issues (PHIL 106), or International Politics (POLI 160); (2) Natural science requirements: 4 units from at least 2 departments, 2 of which must include laboratory work from biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, psychology or statistics (e.g., PSYC 270, MATH 141, ECON 209); (3) STS 200 (Science and Technology Studies); (4) 5 additional units in STS, with only 1 at the 100-level. Ordinarily these are courses that originate or are cross-listed in STS. Additional courses may meet this requirement with the approval of the director; (5) STS 300 (thesis) and STS 301 (senior seminar).

After declaration of the major, all required courses must be taken for a letter grade.

Distribution Requirements: At least 3 units in a sequence of courses leading to the 300-level in one of the social sciences, or one of the natural sciences, or a discipline in one of the humanities by permission of the director; at least 5 units to be taken in any of the divisions other than the one in which the student has achieved the 300-level requirement; no more than 251//2 units may be taken within any one division of the college.

I. Introductory

[131a. Genetic Engineering: Basic Principles and Ethical Questions] (1)

This course includes a consideration of: 1) basic biological knowledge about the nature of the gene, the genetic code, and the way in which the genetic code is translated into the phenotype of the organism; 2) how this basic, scientific knowledge has led to the development of a new technology known as “genetic engineering’’; 3) principles and application of the technology itself; 4) the ethical, legal, and economic issues which have been raised by the advent of this technology. Among the issues discussed are ethical questions such as the nature of life itself, the right of scientists to pursue research at will, and the role of the academy to regulate the individual scientific enterprise. Ms. Pokrywka.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[135a. Autos and Airplanes: The Transportation Revolution] (1)

An examination of the history and the impact of the two major transportation technologies of the twentieth century. The particular ways in which the evolution of each technology was shaped, in different ways, by social as well as technical factors are studied. Among the major topics are: Henry Ford and the Model T, the contrast between military and civilian development of aviation, and the environmental and urban impact of the automobile. Mr. Challey.

Not offered in 2008/09.

138a. Energy: Sources and Policies (1/2)

A multidisciplinary introduction to the principal sources of energy currently being used in the Unied States and the economic, political, and environmental choices they entail. The two largest energy sectors, electrical generatin and transportation, are the main focus for the course, but emerging technologies such as wind power and hydrogen are also examined. There are no science prerequisites except a willingness to explore the interconnections of scientific principle, engineering practice and social context. Mr. Challey.

Six week course.

139b. The Electronic Media (1/2)

An introduction to the history and evolution of the three principal electronic media of the twentieth century, radio, television, and the Internet. In each case the course examines the ways the technology and its social context have shaped each other. As a result this course also serves as an introduction to some of the major themes and methodoloies in the history of technology.

Six week course

172a. Microbial Wars (1)

(Same as Biology 172) Mr. Esteban

180a. Energy: Sources and Policies (1/2)

A multidisciplinary introduction to the principal sources of energy currently being used in the United States and the economic, political and environmental choices they entail. The two largest energy sectors, electrical generation and transportation, are the main focus for the course, but emerging technologies such as wind power and hydrogen are also examined. There are no science prerequisites except a willingness to explore the interconnections of scientific principle, engineering practice and social context. Mr. Challey.

181b. The Electronic Media (1/2)

An introduction to the history and evolution of the three principal electronic media of the twentieth century, radio, television and the Internet. In each case the course examines the ways the technology and its social context have shaped each other. As a result this course also serves as an introduction to some of the major themes and methodologies in the history of technology. Mr. Challey.

II. Intermediate

200b. Science and Technology Studies (1)

An introduction to the multidisciplinary study of contemporary science and technology through selected case studies and key texts representing the major perspectives and methods of analysis, including work by Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Langdon Winner, Robert Merton, Bruno Latour, and Sandra Harding. Some of the issues include the concept of scientific revolution, the nature of “big science” and “high technology,” the social construction of science and technology, technological determinism, and the feminist critique of science. Mr. Challey, Mr. McAulay.

Prerequisite: 1 unit of a natural or a social science.

Two 75-minute periods.

[202a. History of Modern Science and Technology] (1)

A survey of major developments in Western science and technology from 1800 to the present. Major topics include; Laplace and the rise of mathematical physics; the development of thermodynamics; the work of Darwin and Pasteur; Edison and the rise of electrical technology; the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics; the Manhattan Project; plate tectonics and molecular biology; and the development of computers and cybernetics. Special emphasis is placed on the concepts of “big science’ and ‘high technology’ and their role in contemporary social and political life. Mr. Challey.

Prerequisite: One unit of science or modern history or permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[206b. Environmental Biology] (1)

(Same as Biology 206).

Not offered in 2008/09.

220a. The Political Economy Health Care (1)

(Same as Economics 220) Ms. Shirley Johnson-Lans.

[226a. Philosophy of Science] (1)

(Same as Philosophy 226) Mr. Lam.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[230b. The Economics of Innovation] (1)

(Same as Economics 230b.) The department.

Not offered in 2008/09.

254a. Bio-politics of Breast Cancer (1)

(Same as Women’s Studies 254a) We examine the basic scientific, clinical and epidemiological data relevant to our current understanding of the risks (including environmental, genetic, hormonal and lifestyle factors), detection, treatment (including both traditional and alternative approaches), and prevention of breast cancer. In trying to understand these data in the context of the culture of the disease, we explore the roles of the pharmaceutical companies, federal and private foundations, survivor and other activist groups, and the media in shaping research, treatment and policy strategies related to breast cancer. Ms. Gray.

[255a. The Science of Forensics] (1)

(Same as Chemistry 255)

Not offered in 2008/09.

[260a. Health, Medicine, and Public Policy] (1)

(Same as Sociology 260a) Ms. Miringoff.

Not offered in 2008/09.

267b. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (1)

(Same as Economics 267b) The department.

273a. Sociology of the New Economy (1)

(Same as Sociology 273) Mr. Nevarez.

[282b. Bioethics and Human Reproduction] (1)

Scientific and technological advances are revolutionizing the ways in which human beings can procreate. This has given rise to debates over the ethical use of these methods, and over whether and how law and public policy should regulate these procedures and recognize the family relationships created by their use. This course examines topics such as fertility treatments, the commodification of gametes and embryos, contraceptive development and use, genetic screening and genetic modification of embryos, genetic testing in establishing family rights and responsibilities, and human cloning. We examine issues surrounding the ethical use of these methods, and consider whether and how law and public policy should regulate these procedures and recognize the family relationships created by their use. Ms. Pokrywka, Ms. Shanley.

Not offered in 2008/09.

284a. Molecular Coordinates: The Societal Implications of Emergent Nanotechnology (1)

This course is designed to enable students to analyze dynamics and  relationships germane to the domestic arenas of emergent nanotechnological research and development from approximately 1980-2006, and, in turn, the enmeshed ethical, societal, legal, martial, political and imaginary implications they suggest. This course places a particular emphasis on tracking the traffic of science fictional concepts and discourses in the formation of nanotechnology, its public perception to date and possible future significance. Mr. Bennett. 

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (1)

301b. Senior Seminar (1/2)

The seminar meets during the first six weeks of the second semester. Senior majors present and defend their senior theses before the student and faculty members of the ‑program.

302b. History of Science and Technology Since World War II (1)

An examination of major developments in science and technology since 1945, with particular emphasis on the social contexts and implications. The topics to receive special attention are: the origins and growth of systems theories (systems analysis, operations research, game theory, cybernetics), the development of molecular genetics from the double helix to sociobiology; and the evolution of telecommunications technologies. Mr. Challey.

Prerequisites: 1 unit of natural science and 1 unit of modern history, or permission of instructor.

331b. Seminar in Archeological Method and Theory (1)

(Same as Anthropology 331b) Topic for 2008/9: Technology, Ecology, and Society. Ms. Johnson.

353b. Bio-Social Controversy (1)

(Same as Sociology 353b) Mr. McAulay.

360a. Issues in Bioethics (1)

Topic for 2007/08: To be announced.

364b. Seminar on Selected Topics in Law and Technology (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 364) This course explores the dynamic interrelationship between technology and law, through the study of environmental protection, law and policy. It is designed to analyze the reciprocal effects of our society, a developing jurisprudence and the advancement and use of science and technology on each other. Areas explored include American Constitutional, international, environmental, criminal, and property law. This course is taught using the same Socratic methods used in American law schools. Mr. Triebwasser.

[367a. Mind, Culture, and Biology] (1)

(Same as Sociology 367) Mr. McAulay.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[370b. Feminism and Environmentalism] (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 370 and Women’s Studies 370). Ms. Schneiderman.

Not offered in 2008/09.

388b. Intellectual Property Law (1)

(Same as Political Science 388) This course examines the legal and theoretical foundations of domestic, international and transnational intellectual property law regimes.  In covering the areas of patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and espionage law, as well as their intermingled legislative histories, students will gain in-depth knowledge of the prevailing domestic doctrines, as well as an understanding of how contemporary national policy is woven into international treaties and structures of transnational governance. Mr. Bennett.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)