Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

Director: James F. Challey (Physics and Science, Technology and Society); Steering Committee: Fred A. Bellemore (Economics), Janet Gray (Psychology), Richard B. Hemmes (Biology), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Robert E. McAulay (Sociology), Leathem Mehaffey III (Biology), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), David L. Shalk (History), Morton A. Tavel (Physics).

The multidisciplinary program in Science, Technology, and Society is designed to enable students to pursue three objectives: a) to better understand the central role of science and technology in the emergence of advanced industrial society;

b) to consider the social, political, philosophical, and cultural implications of the human experience in a technological society; and c) to explore possible directions of future development, using alternative social theories and perceptions.

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

Course Requirements: 131/2 units including 1 unit from the introductory sequence "Dilemmas of Technological Society''; 3 units (2 units of which must include laboratory work) from the following natural sciences: biology, chemistry, geology, or physics; 1 unit of philosophy chosen from either Philosophy 101 or 102; 1 unit of introductory modern history; 1 unit chosen from anthropology, economics, political science, or sociology; 5 STS colloquia (5 units); a senior thesis (1 unit); the senior seminar, STS 301b, (1/2 unit) given in the first six weeks of the 

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.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

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

300a or b. Senior Thesis (1)

301a or b. 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.

One 2-hour period.

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

Dilemmas of Technological Society

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

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 1999/00.

[132a. Technology and Global Issues] (1)

An examination of the connections between technology and global issues in the contemporary world. The course is designed to involve students in both the technological and international aspects of the issues. Varied issues are examined including food, the environment, the arms race and arms control, population, technology transfer, technology and international trade, and resource management and depletion. Mr. Tavel, instructor to be announced.

Not offered in 1999/00.

135b. 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.


Each colloquium is restricted to a maximum of 20 students. Enrollment is open to all interested students in their junior and senior years, with first priority going to STS majors. STS colloquia are open to sophomores enrolled in STS and to all other sophomores on a space-available basis. Unless stated otherwise, the prerequisite for 200-level courses is 1 unit of 100-level course work or permission of the department (program director or course instructor). The prerequisite for 300-level courses is 1 unit of 200-level work or similar permission.

[200b. Science, Technology and Contemporary Society] (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.

Not offered in 1999/00.

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: 1 unit of science or modern history or permission of instructor.

[206a. Environmental Biology] (1)

(Same as Biology 206/Environmental Studies Development Project 206)

Not offered in 1999/00.

234a. Disability and Society (1)

(Same as Sociology 234a). Ms. Miringoff.

241b. Feminist Approaches to Science and Technology (1)

(Same as Women's Studies 241) Ms. Gray, Ms. Heiland.

[243a. Birth, Death, and Public Policy] (1)

(Same as Sociology 243a)

Not offered in 1999/00.

[260a. Sociology of Medicine] (1)

(Same as Sociology 260a)

Not offered in 1999/00.

267a. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (1)

(Same as Economics 267a) Mr. Bellemore.

[302a. 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.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 1999/00.

[330b. The Intellectual Roots of the Twentieth Century] (1)

(Same as College Course 330) This course lays the groundwork for intellectual, technological, and scientific modernity through an in-depth comparative study of an epoch in European cultural history, the world of "The Magic Mountain'' so brilliantly captured by Thomas Mann. A variety of cultural themes are treated. First, the dominant positivist optimism of the late nineteenth century is examined, and then philosophical, sociological, literary, artistic, and psychological challenges to that climate of opinion will be studied. Next, we focus on the revolutionary shift in the entire scientific view of reality that leads from the mechanistic determinism of classical physics to the relativistic and quantum mechanical descriptions that constitute modern physics. The course ends with the mobilization of the summer of 1914, as European cultural achievements dissolve into the apocalypse of total war. Mr. Schalk, Mr. Tavel.

Not offered in 1999/00.

331a. Seminar in Archaeological Method and Theory (1)

(Same as Anthropology 331a.) Topic for 1999/00: Architecture and the Built Environment. Ms. Pike-Tay.

[353a. Sociobiology] (1)

(Same as Sociology 353a)

Not offered in 1999/00.

360b. Bioethics (1)

This course investigates how recent developments in biology and medicine have generated new and unexpected moral and philosophical questions. Beginning with some readings in moral philosophy, we proceed to consider how particular moral principles and moral traditions can be brought to bear on issues such as medical paternalism, behavioral modification, neonatal care and the termination of life-saving treatment, health care and social justice, and environmental ethics as these issues are embodied in specific case studies. Emphasis is placed on learning how to approach and think through bioethical issues in their social, political, cultural, and ethical contexts. Instructor to be announced.

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

This course explores the dynamic interrelationship between technology and law. It is designed to analyze the reciprocal effects of our society's developed jurisprudence and the advancement and use of science and technology on each other. Areas explored include American Constitutional, international, environmental, criminal, and property law, particularly as they interact with reproductive determination, government information gathering, hazardous waste generation, biotechnology, and technology transfer. Instructor to be announced.

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

(Same as Sociology 367a.) Mr. McAulay.