Science, Technology & Society

On this page: Major Description | Requirements | Learning Objectives | Faculty & Staff |            Recommended CoursesFAQ

The Science, Technology & Society Major

How have the fields of science and technology evolved over time, and what does the future hold?  How should societies manage those fields to achieve just and sustainable communities?  The Science, Technology & Society (STS) major prepares students to address these important questions through an integrated approach to science, technology, and their relationships to culture, history, and society.

STS students work with faculty members trained in disciplines ranging from biology and mathematics to political economy and philosophy.  Housed in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, the major enables students to develop their skills in scientific and technological research along with their capacities for critical, creative, and ethical reflection.  Students leave the program with the capacity to make informed decisions about the responsible use of science and technology -- as professionals and citizens.

Career focus

Graduating STS students are prepared for careers with a wide variety of for-profit, not-for-profit, and governmental organizations that analyze, produce, and use scientific and technical knowledge.  These careers include planning and administration, public and investor relations, and advocacy and communications, among other areas.  STS students also pursue graduate and professional education in such fields as law, education, policy studies, and media and cultural studies. Here is more information about career possibilities or pursuing graduate school.

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Major requirements

Prerequisites

There are no official prerequisites beyond the requirements for admission into the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. Students choosing this major may find it helpful to have completed courses related to the list of Recommended Preparation options. 

Degree requirements

View the STS course list to identify courses approved for each requirement below. Approved course options will be maintained by the School of IAS. Courses in this major are offered primarily during day time hours. 

TOTAL= 70 Credits

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Learning objectives

The Science, Technology, and Society curriculum advances the five core IAS learning objectives. Students taking courses and/or majoring in Science, Technology, and Society:

  1. Think critically and creatively about social and cultural representation and practice in science and technology.
  2. Develop and communicate sophisticated arguments about how people experience power and difference in relation to scientific and technological development.
  3. Critically examine how scientific knowledge is produced and analyze scientific and technological practices in applied, interdisciplinary contexts.
  4. Recognize the social and political conditions in which science and technology have value.
  5. Conduct collaborative research that integrates quantitative and qualitative knowledge using interdisciplinary methods of inquiry. 

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Faculty

Please contact the STS Faculty Coordinator if you have any questions, concerns or ideas about the Science, Technology and Society major. To declare the STS major, please contact the First Year & Pre-Major Program.

Academic Advisor

Research Librarian

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Courses

Courses are listed according to specific requirements for the major. Quickly identify which options are available this quarter by performing a webpage search using the Time Schedule Indicator for the selected requirement. The abbreviated Time Schedule Indicator can found on the online Time Schedule.

Also listed below is the numerical assignment of each major requirement area as presented on the Degree Audit Report (DARS). Major requirements are listed on DARS under the section called "School Requirements".

Recommended preparation

Interested in exploring this major, but not ready to commit? Consider taking one of the below courses! Any of these selections will help familiarize you with the academic program and prepare you for advanced coursework in the major.

  • BEARTH 153 Introduction to Geology
  • BEARTH 154 Introduction to Oceanography
  • BEARTH 155 Introduction to Climate Science
  • BIS 115 Digital Cultures
  • BIS 232 Introduction to Data Visualization
  • BIS 242 Environmental Geography
  • BIS 245 Environment and Humanities
  • BIS 252 Politics of Science

Core courses

10 credits required from the below list: 

  • BISSTS 307 Science, Technology and Society
  • BISSTS 355 History of Science and Technology

The Time Schedule Indicator for this requirement is STS:CORE. These courses are recorded in DARS under "School Requirements" as items 1 and 2.

Research Methods

10 credits required from the below list:

  • BES 301 Science Methods and Practice (required)

Choose one:

  • BIS 312 Approaches to Social Research
  • BIS 340 Approaches to Cultural Research

The Time Schedule Indicator for this requirement is STS:METHODS. These courses are recorded in DARS under "School Requirements" as item 3.

Mathematical Thinking & Data Visualization

5 credits required from the below list:

  • BHEALTH 215: Statistics for Health Sciences
  • BIS 215 Understanding Statistics (or equivalent)
  • BIS 232 Introduction to Data Visualization
  • BIS 302 Issues in Mathematics Across Cultures
  • BIS 342 Geographic Information Systems
  • BIS 343 Geographic Visualization
  • BIS 344 Intermediate Geographic Analysis and Applications
  • BIS 447 Topics in Quantitative Inquiry
  • STMATH 310 Mathematical Game Theory
  • STMATH 341 Introduction to Statistical Inference
  • STMATH 420 History of Mathematics

The Time Schedule Indicator for this requirement is STS:DATA. These courses are recorded in DARS under "School Requirements" as item 4.

Social and Cultural Studies of Science and Technology

Courses approved for this requirement apply the theories and/or methods of one or more disciplines in the social sciences and humanities to the study of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or medicine. Approved courses may also explore how artistic practice can be informed by scientific concepts of technological forms.

15 credits required from the below list:

  • BHEALTH 224 Disease, Human History, Society, and Civilization
  • BHS 201 Introduction to Public Health
  • BHS 300 Principles of Health Research
  • BHS 302 Social Dimensions of Health
  • BIS 205 Technologies of Expression
  • BIS 218 The Power of Maps
  • BIS 233 Participatory Media Culture
  • BIS 235 Critical Media Literacy
  • BIS 236 Introduction to Interactive Media
  • BIS 245 Environmental Humanities 
  • BIS 252 Politics of Science
  • BIS 304 Political Economy & the Environment
  • BIS 307 Environmental Justice
  • BIS 308 Industrial Animal
  • BIS 332 Global Digital Industries
  • BIS 352 Mapping Communities
  • BIS 380 Bioethics
  • BIS 384 Health, Medicine and Society
  • BIS 386 Climate Change Adaptation Policy
  • BIS 421 Technology Policy
  • BIS 458 Energy, the Environment, and Society
  • BISMCS 333 Media and Communication Studies
  • BISMCS 473 Visual Communication
  • BISSTS 420 Race, Gender, Science, and Medicine

The Time Schedule Indicator for this requirement is STS:SCST. These courses are recorded in DARS under "School Requirements" as item 5.

Science and Technology in Practice

Courses approved for this requirement provide students an opportunity to experience the processes through which scientific knowledge and technology innovations are made. Course may involve students in science, engineering, mathematics, or medical research, or may require students to apply scientific theory or methods to understanding and solving real-world problems. 

10 credits required from the below list:

  • B BIO 231 Genes, Genomes & Heredity
  • B BIO 233 Cancer: Biology, Risk, and Treatment
  • B BIO 235 Salmon and Society
  • B BIO 305 The Science and Ethics of Stem Cells
  • B BIO 310 Brain and Behavior
  • B BIO 330 Marine Biology
  • BEARTH 155 Introduction to Climate Sciences
  • BEARTH 317 Soils in the Environment 
  • BEARTH 318 Hydrogeology
  • BEARTH 320 Impacts of Climate Change
  • BEARTH 321 Geomorphology
  • BEARTH 341 Natural Hazards and Human Disasters
  • BES 303 Environmental Monitoring Practicum
  • BES 311 Environmental Chemistry
  • BES 312 Ecology
  • BES 316 Ecological Methods
  • BES 362 Introduction to Restoration Ecology
  • BES 439 Computer Modeling and the Environment
  • BES 462 Restoration Ecology Capstone: Introduction
  • BES 463 Restoration Ecology Capstone: Proposal and Plan
  • BES 464 Restoration Ecology Capstone: Field Site Restoration
  • BES 485 Conservation Biology
  • BES 489 Pacific Northwest Ecosystems
  • BHS 403 Introduction to Epidemiology
  • BIS 241 Nature in the Northwest
  • BIS 242 Environmental Geography
  • BIS 243 Introduction to Environmental Issues
  • BIS 244 Wetlands Discovery
  • BIS 246 Introduction to Sustainability
  • BIS 285 Seminar in Biology
  • BIS 306 Marine Diversity and Conservation 
  • BIS 360 Pollinator Diversity & Conservation 
  • BIS 392 Water and Sustainability 
  • BIS 408 Critical Physical Geography
  • BIS 412 Advanced Data Visualization
  • BIS 422 Clinical Psychology
  • BIS 459 Conservation and Sustainable Development
  • BISMCS 402 Community Media Practice
  • BISMCS 473 Visual Communication
  • BST 446 Sustainable Energy

The Time Schedule Indicator for this requirement is STS:STP. These courses are recorded in DARS under "School Requirements" as item 6.

Special Topics

The following course options may apply to the STS major depending on the topic of study and course title. Review the Time Schedule to determine which special courses are available this quarter. The abbreviated Time Schedule Indicator will be listed in the course notes to designate which STS requirement the course will fulfill.

  • BIS 293 Special Topics
  • BIS 316 Topics in Psychology (Psychology & Sustainability) 
  • BIS 393 Special Topics
  • BIS 396 Topics in Sustainability
  • BIS 397 Topics in Environmental Studies
  • BIS 480 International Study Abroad
  • BIS 491 Topics in Policy Studies
  • BIS 493 Special Topics
  • BIS 496 Community Service Project
  • BISMCS 471 Advanced Topics in Media and Communication

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is STS?

Here at UW Bothell, we think of STS as being the study of how science and technology are made, and how they form part of social and political life. For us, STS stands for “Science, Technology and Society,” but it can also mean “Science and Technology Studies,” or even “Social Studies of Science and Technology.” 

Who should choose STS?

The students who will most enjoy majoring in STS are those who are curious about the history of science and technology, who are concerned about ethical and policy issues related to new developments in science and technology, who want to understand the technical controversies they hear about in the news, or who are committed to making complicated technical subjects comprehensible to others.  

What will I study as an STS major?

STS majors take courses that examine science and technology from a broad range of perspectives. In Understanding Statistics (BIS 315) and Science Methods and Practice (BES 301), students learn to think like a scientist – to formulate research hypotheses, collect data, and reason with numbers. In Science, Technology, and Society (BISSTS 307), the core class in the STS major, students learn to think like a social scientist, and to approach science as a social, cultural, and political practice. For their remaining STS courses, students choose classes that examine how social, scientific, and technological factors intertwine in areas ranging from environmental restoration to global health.   

How is STS different from S&T?

STS is a major field of study within the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) Program. STS majors primarily take courses offered through the IAS program, including Interdisciplinary Inquiry (BIS 300) and the Portfolio Capstone (BIS 499). S&T refers to the Science and Technology Program, which has its own majors (like Biology and Electrical Engineering) and an independent set of degree requirements. Students in the STS program may take S&T classes to fulfill General Elective and Natural World requirements – just as S&T students may take STS courses to fulfill some of the requirements for their majors.

Will I learn to be a scientist in the STS major?

No. While students graduate with an excellent understanding of scientific reasoning and practices, the STS major is not designed for students wanting to work in a laboratory or go to graduate school in the natural sciences. Rather than mastering the principles and findings of a technical discipline, students learn the skills of social scientific analysis and how they can be applied to science, technology, medicine, and mathematics.

What kind of job can I get with a degree in STS?

STS majors are ideally suited for jobs that require the ability to both understand technical reasoning and analyze human behavior and social interactions. Depending on their interests, course choices, and other experiences such as internships, an STS major might pursue a career in sales and marketing for a high-tech company, become a policy analyst of a non-profit activist around issues of health, transportation, or the environment, or go into science education or journalism.

Can I go to graduate school with an STS degree?

Yes! Many U.S. universities (not to mention a larger number of European ones) offer master’s degrees and doctorates in Science and Technology Studies or closely related fields like History and Philosophy of Science. But STS majors are also well equipped for graduate programs in the social sciences and humanities, including anthropology, sociology, history, and policy studies, as well as for law school and M.B.A. programs.        

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