College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

About STS

Science, Technology, and Society

Science, Technology, and Society (STS) is an interdisciplinary area of research and teaching which integrates knowledge in the natural sciences and in technology as well as in the humanities and social sciences to study science and technology in relation to society. STS focuses on the following sorts of issues:

  1. General issues about the authority of science, such as the questions of what science is, and how it is different from pseudoscience, and the reliability of research science;
  2. Questions regarding the impact of science and technology on societies; and
  3. Questions regarding how local, national and global political interests affect scientific inquiry and technological development.

These three sorts of questions interrelate in complicated ways. Consider the debate about climate change. This debate obviously raises issues concerning the impact of technology on societies, but it also raises issues about the reliability of the scientific research involved in identifying this impact, the use and interpretation of this research by political leaders and public policy makers, and the effect of public policy in driving possible technological solutions.

The STS undergraduate Major has existed in the US since the late 1960s and early 1970s, with programs at Cornell University, Lehigh University, and Stanford University. By now, about 35 universities and colleges in the US (DOC) offer an STS Major (most of which, like Cal Poly Pomona, also offer an STS Minor alongside the Major).