Science,Technology and Society Program

Director: Janet Gray (Psychology); Steering Committee: James F. Challey (Physics and Science, Technology and Society), Richard B. Hemmes (Biology), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Robert E. McAulay (Sociology), Marque Miringoff (Sociology), Nancy Pokrywka (Biology), 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: Science and Technology Studies 200, 3 units (2 units of which must include laboratory work) from the following natural sciences: biology, chemistry, geology, or physics; 1 unit of philosophy; 1 unit of introductory modern history; 1 unit chosen from anthropology, economics, political science, or sociology; 5 units of Science, Technology, and Society courses (not including Science, Technology, and Society 200), of which at most one may be at the 100-level; a senior thesis (1 unit); the Senior Seminar, Science, Technology, and Society 301b (1/2 unit). 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 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 2006/07.

[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 2006/07.

136a. Patent Law and Policy (1)

The patent is a limited monopoly granted as inventor so that a nation may benefit from the inventor’s technological creativeness. Recent technological advances, however, have raised social and ethical questions about the proper subject matter for patent protection. This course examines intellectual property and patents from a historical and legal perspective. The students learn how to interpret and draft a patent and important historical patents are read and their implications discussed. Mr. Tavel.

172a. Microbial Wars (1)

(Same as Biology 172)

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.


Each colloquium is restricted to a maximum of twenty students. Enrollment is open to all interested students in their junior and senior years, with first priority going to Science, Technology, and Society majors. Science, Technology, and Society colloquia are open to sophomores enrolled in Science, Technology, and Society 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 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.

206b. Environmental Biology (1)

(Same as Biology 206) Mr. Hemmes.

[226a. Philosophy of Science] (1)

(Same as Philosophy 226)

Not offered in 2006/07.

[234b. Disability and Society] (1)

(Same as Sociology 234) Ms. Miringoff.

Not offered in 2006/07.

[241a. Feminist Approaches to Science and Technology] (1)

(Same as Women’s Studies 241)

Not offered in 2006/07.

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

(Same as Sociology 260a) Ms. Miringoff.

Not offered in 2006/07.

267b. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (1)

(Same as Economics 267b) Mr. Lunt.

[273a. Sociology of the New Economy] (1)

(Same as Sociology 273) Mr. Nevarez.

Not offered in 2006/07.

313a. Women, Science, and Society (1)

(Same as Sociology 313 and Women’s Studies 313) Ms.Sulik.

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

(Same as Anthropology 331a) Topic for 2006/07: Technology, Ecology, and Society. Ms. Johnson.

360b. Issues in Bioethics (1)

Topic for 2006/07: On the Prospect of a Posthuman Future. From body piercing and psychotherapy to matchmaking and public schools, human beings have always sought to shape themselves and their children. Emerging genetics and artificial-intelligence based technologies seem like they might radically transform our capacity to pursue that ancient ambition. The aim of this course is to understand the emerging public debate about the prospect of what some are calling our “posthuman future”—and to begin to articulate our own positions vis-a-vis that debate. As sympathetically and critically as possible, it explores the arguments for and against pursuing such a future. We also explore some of the psychological and cultural dimensions of the debate. That is, the course attempts to begin to understand why some arguments hold such great appeal for some people, whereas different arguments hold equally great appeal for others. Mr. Parens.

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.

370b. Feminism and Environmentalism (1)

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