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Science, Technology, and Society Program
Paul R. Josephson
Science, Technology, and Society Overview
Colby is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of Science, Technology, and Society (STS). It is one of only a handful of liberal arts colleges offering this program and the only one in New England with both a major and a minor in STS. Our students are engaged in an exciting interdisciplinary field of study that has deep intellectual roots in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science and technology.
Science and technology have become increasingly important components of our world, changing the ways we live, work, and think. The well-being of individuals, nations, and ultimately, our Earth depends in part on techno-scientific developments that are part of the process shaping both the social fabric and the natural environment. The STS Program at Colby examines the social and cultural implications of discoveries, theories, and inventions—of knowledge and of material culture—both in America and globally.
An STS major or minor is suitable for all students since no prior technical or social expertise is required. STS constitutes a fundamental aspect of a liberal arts education and functions as excellent preparation for graduate study or future employment opportunities in both the private sector and in public service. By choosing from a variety of electives and by focusing on a senior research project, students in the STS Program gain an understanding of the historical and social dimensions of science and technology, become better-informed citizens of our high-tech society, and hone critical and valuable interdisciplinary research skills. Recent graduates have been admitted to top graduate schools, completed medical and law degrees, and have succeeded in the world of business and public affairs.
The Major in Science, Technology, and Society +
The STS major consists of 11 courses and has a core curriculum based on the research and teaching interests of the faculty. Students begin with Science, Technology, and Society (ST 112). Then, in consultation with an advisor, they select a sequence of STS courses that focuses on U.S., international, science, and technology issues. The topics of these courses vary and allow students to develop particular lines of interest within the major.
Recent ST courses include ST 215 Weather, Climate, and Society, ST 245 Science, Race, and Gender, ST 358 Climbing the Oil Peak and ST 397 Research Seminar on Carbon Dioxide. STS electives include: AN 112 Cultural Anthropology, CH 217 Environmental Chemistry, ES 118 Environment and Society, SO 258 Health and Medicine, HI 246 Luddite Rantings and PL 126 Philosophy and the Environment.
Students also need to complete one additional natural science or computer science course at the 200-level or above. To bring focus to the senior year, STS majors must complete a yearlong research project of their own design.
Senior Projects and Senior Honors Theses +
All senior STS majors take the Senior Seminar (ST 485/486), a yearlong capstone research experience in which seniors design and complete a final integrative project in science, technology, and society. This involves intensive writing and a final public presentation.
Qualified students with a 3.5 GPA in the major (and at least 3.25 overall) may request permission to undertake an honors thesis. Upon successful completion of the thesis and oral presentation, and all requirements for the major, the student will graduate “With Honors in Science, Technology, and Society.”
The Minor in Science, Technology, and Society +
Students in any major may elect a 7-course minor in Science, Technology, and Society. Known as the “Minor for All Majors,” courses include ST 112, 485, 486, and four other STS courses or STS electives.
Public Programs +
The STS Program brings distinguished visiting scholars to campus as consultants and guest speakers. Now in its 23rd year, the STS Seminar Series recently hosted programs involving a Nobel laureate, the Darwin Bicentennial celebration, NASA’s 50th anniversary, and an international conference on climate change sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
STS is also a frequent sponsor of programs in conjunction with the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. These include intimate dinner seminars with faculty and guests, courses involving the Colby Museum of Art, and the 2012 seminar series on Medicine and Society. Students have extensive opportunities to help plan and participate in all of these events.