Students talk Science, Technology & Society
Science, Technology & Society (STS) is an interdisciplinary social science/humanities degree that explores the social relations, histories, and contexts of science and technology in everyday life. STS majors are given the skills to evaluate what it means to live in a world where technology informs things like hiring, criminal sentencing, and freedom of speech and association.
The STS major allows for a wide range of exploration. To find out more about what motivates our students to major in STS, we asked three of them these questions (click on the links to go directly to those answers):
- Why did you choose Science, Technology & Society as your major?
- What does Science, Technology & Society mean to you?
- What’s it like being an STS major?
- What should students considering the STS major know?
About the Interviewees
Vy Mai is double majoring in Science, Technology & Society and Health Studies, as well as double minoring in Global Health and Health Education and Promotion. Vy is also a Yelp Elite reviewer, which she connects to her STS major.
Daelen Gates is a Science, Technology & Society major with a minor in Geographic Information System. Daelen is an avid musician and got into gardening during the pandemic. He now finds meaningful connections volunteering at two community gardens.
Loren Herrera is a recent transfer to UW Bothell, a member of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society for transfer students, and a Science, Technology & Society major. Loren is a musician and filmmaker with a deep interest in philosophy. Loren also owns his own production company, LVL 64 Films.
Being an STS major
Why did you choose Science, Technology & Society as your major?
Originally, I was just majoring in Health Studies, with the goal of going into healthcare administration. But I realized that I wanted to incorporate technology more explicitly into my learning. Everything's online these days. Everything is moving forward as technology develops. So, I felt that adding STS as a second major would allow me to think through the implications in a way that would be helpful for my career.
I’ve always been interested in sciences and how they affect my world and my family. My friends and I program together, make games, and enter programming competitions. But I also have this artistic part of me that values being part of a community, like when I play jazz in a venue with my girlfriend. So I see a lot of intersection between community and the sciences and also a lot of disconnects, such as access to important technologies. I wanted to major in STS to study these intersections and disconnects.
I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, and I’ve always had a passion for filmmaking. Later I developed a deep interest in philosophy, both Eastern and Western. This intersection of arts and philosophy led me to look at technology and what technology reveals about ourselves and the deeper nature of the reality within and the reality that we experience externally. When I researched UW Bothell after community college, I discovered the STS major. I had this epiphany that STS was the perfect synthesis of everything that I study out of my own interest, and also has practical applications to my professional life in pursuing music and film. Not only is there the societal aspect of art, but a lot of the instruments of my trades involve some sophisticated technology.
What does Science, Technology & Society mean to you?
Looking at the healthcare field, I feel like science, technology, and society are so intertwined in our daily lives. They go hand in hand. You have to have different aspects of each to apply what I need to know in my field.
It means that we are going to be going through a lot of technological change, and a lot of social change, as the climate changes over the next decade, the next 50 years. We bear witness to climate change—there's no really stopping it at this point. We see the fires that are happening in California, we see the people that are fleeing hurricanes down in the southern part of the United States. There have to be people that are having these conversations about how we create solutions and allocate the necessary technologies. I feel like the STS major prepares you to for this.
There’s this idea in philosophy that you design a house, but you don’t get to live in it. But in STS, you have one foot in the design/thinking aspect, and another in the action/application. The major’s focus for me is: How can I contribute to society in a greater way, using this body of knowledge and insight? So, the primary goal is to contribute to the betterment of humanity, and I see STS being a way to do that, as opposed to just putting out my philosophy on life.
What’s it like being an STS major?
Coming into IAS was so different for me. I had to switch my brain and learn to think outside of the box. It was really interesting for me to get used to learning like that and thinking like that. Now I feel like I’m so much more of a creative thinker, and I can kind of problem solve better because I’m not confined to looking at problems from only one perspective.
Very broad! You can have people that are on the art side, where they take some kind of digital technology and batteries and make art with it, or you can have people more like me where you're looking at the system side and the community side to see how technology could best be implemented to improve our society and our communities. You’ve got to look at the things people are afraid to look at and say, “How do we make things better?” instead of just trying to perfect a technology from a purely technical viewpoint.
The classes I’ve taken challenge you to widen your scope of knowledge and habits of thinking. For example, in Adam Romero’s class we learned to expand the way in which we think of time and our sense of temporality. It's almost like science fiction. And that's one of the greatest things about it. Like in Shannon Cram’s class, we talked a lot about the kind subject matter that you might see in shows such as Black Mirror, which has a lot to do with the darker aspects of technology in society. So, it helps us to think about the beneficial side and how we can improve technology, so that we don't go down this dark path. These classes allow us to think about things that humanity as a whole, right now, is having trouble reckoning with.
What should students considering the STS major know?
This major is fun, especially for someone like me who thinks in terms of data and numbers. It's been great to get to be creative and think for myself. STS can really apply to anything in life because the study of technology here is more about exploring how science can help better society.
Know that you can take the things that you find interesting the world into STS. Think about how science, technology and society impact yourself, your Community, the world—then you can really think about how you can apply yourself to the major. And don't lose your art, because what else do we do a lot of this stuff for!
STS is like studying real life science fiction, with real life applications. It provides an interdisciplinary avenue that’s applicable to many different fields of industry or lifestyles so students can apply their interests in STS to create the world that they want to exist in or the life that they wish to live.