Courses of Study 2019-2020 
    Jul 20, 2024  
Courses of Study 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Science & Technology Studies

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

Course Offerings  

In today’s world, issues at the intersection of the technical and the social arise continually in all aspects of life, from the role of computers in society, the history of evolutionary theory, and the challenges of environmental controversies, to the ethical dilemmas of genomics and biomedicine. The field of science and technology studies (S&TS) addresses such issues through the study of the social aspects of knowledge, especially scientific and technological knowledge. S&TS explores the practices that shape science and technology, examines their social and cultural context, and analyzes their political and ethical implications. S&TS provides a strong liberal arts background from which students can go on to careers in law, medicine, environmental policy, business, and a variety of other professions where the social aspects of science and technology loom large.



B. V. Lewenstein, chair; M. Ziewitz, director of undergraduate studies; S. Hilgartner, director of graduate studies; P. R. Dear, S. Jackson, R. Kline, C. Leuenberger,  K. Overby, T. J. Pinch, A. G. Power, R. Prentice, S. Pritchard, J. Ratcliff, P. J. Sengers, S. Seth, R. Slayton, M. Ziewitz. Emeritus: M. Lynch, J. V. Reppy, M. W. Rossiter

Science & Technology Studies Major:

Admission to the major requires successful completion of one S&TS course. First-Year Writing Seminars may not count as a prerequisite for the major. There are no other prerequisites, but students should plan to fulfill the science PBS and quantitative MQR requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences early in their college careers in order to be in a position to take additional science or engineering courses as outlined below.

Students intending to major in Science & Technology Studies should submit an application during their sophomore year. Juniors are considered on a case-by-case basis. The application includes (1) a one-page statement explaining the student’s intellectual interests and why the major is consistent with the student’s academic interests and goals; (2) a tentative plan of courses fulfilling S&TS requirements; and (3) an up-to-date transcript of work completed at Cornell University (and elsewhere, if applicable). Further information and application materials are available in 303 Morrill Hall, (607) 255-6047.


S&TS majors must complete the following requirements:

(Note: all courses used to fulfill major requirements must be taken for a letter grade, which must be C– or higher. One course may not be used to fulfill two major requirements.)

  1. Completion of one STS course (any level, excluding STS 2011 ).
  2. The core course: STS 2011 - What Is Science? An Introduction to the Social Studies of Science and Technology  
  3. Three additional 2000-level STS courses
  4. Additional STS courses to total 37 credit hours in the major (Four of these courses must be 3000-level or above and a minimum of two of these must be 4000 level or higher.)
  5. Science requirement: In addition to the science requirement of the College of Arts and Sciences, Science & Technology Studies majors are required to take an additional two courses in natural science or engineering (including computer science). Mathematics sufficient to provide background for the additional science requirement should be completed before undertaking that requirement. Choice of these courses should be made in consultation with the student’s major advisor.

Independent Study:

Permission of faculty supervisor required. No more than 8 credit hours total of independent study (not including honors) can count toward the STS major. To apply for independent study, please complete the on-line form.

Applications for research projects are accepted by individual STS faculty members. Students may enroll for 1–4 credits in  STS 3991 - Undergraduate Independent Study  with written permission of the faculty supervisor and may elect either the letter grade or the S–U option. Information on faculty research, scholarly activities, and undergraduate opportunities are available in the Science & Technology Studies office, 303 Morrill Hall. Independent study credits may not be used in completion of the major requirements.

The Honors Program:

The honors program is designed to provide independent research opportunities for academically talented S&TS majors. Students who enroll in the honors program are expected to do independent study and research, with faculty guidance, on issues in science and technology studies. Students who participate in the program should find the experience intellectually stimulating and rewarding whether or not they intend to pursue a research career. S&TS majors are considered for entry into the honors program at the end of the second semester of their junior year. To qualify for the S&TS honors program, students must have an overall Cornell cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 and a 3.30 cumulative GPA in courses taken for the major. Additionally, the student must have formulated a research topic, and have found a project supervisor and a second faculty member willing to serve as the advisors; at least one of these must be a member of the S&TS department. More information on the honors program is available from the S&TS undergraduate office at 303 Morrill Hall, (607) 255–6047.

Biology & Society Major:

The Department of Science & Technology Studies also offers the Biology & Society major, which includes faculty from throughout the university. The Biology & Society major is designed for students who wish to combine the study of biology with exposure to perspectives from the social sciences and humanities. In addition to providing a foundation in biology, Biology and Society students obtain background in the social dimensions of modern biology and in the biological dimensions of contemporary social issues.

The Biology & Society major is offered to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The major is coordinated for students in all colleges through the Biology & Society office. Students can get information, specific course requirements, and application procedures for the major from the office in 303 Morrill Hall, (607) 255–6047.  A full description of the Major   can be found here.

The Minor in Science & Technology Studies:

The undergraduate minor in Science & Technology Studies (S&TS) is designed for students who wish to engage in a systematic, interdisciplinary exploration of the role of science and technology in modern societies. The minor is intended for students with varied academic interests and career goals. Majors in the natural sciences and engineering have an opportunity to explore the social, political, and ethical implications of their selected fields of specialization, while students majoring in the humanities and social sciences have a chance to study the processes, products, and impacts of science and technology from an S&TS perspective.

To satisfy the requirements for the S&TS minor, students must complete, with a letter grade of C– or above, a minimum of four courses totaling 15 credits, selected from the course offerings listed for the major. First-year writing seminars are excluded. One course should be at the 3000 or 4000 level. No more than one course can be at the 1000 level. At least TWO courses must be chosen from the following list to fulfill the Core Courses requirement: STS 1101 , STS 1102 , STS 1941 , STS 1942 , STS 2011 , STS 2051 , STS 2061 , STS 2071 , STS 2921 , STS 3011 , STS 3111 , STS 3121 , STS 3181 , STS 3561  to fulfill the Core Courses requirement. Students must apply by the end of week 3 in their final semester.

Note: Biology and Society majors cannot use more than one course to fulfill requirements for both the BSOC major and the STS minor.

Interested students may obtain further information about courses by contacting the S&TS undergraduate office, 303 Morrill Hall (607) 255-6234.

Graduate Field of Science & Technology Studies:


B. V. Lewenstein, chair; S. Hilgartner, director of graduate studies; P. Dear, T. Hinrichs, S. Jackson, R. Kline, S. Langwick, K. Levy, P. Nadasdy, T. Pinch, A. Power, R. Prentice, S. Pritchard, C. Roby, P. Sengers, S. Seth, R. Slayton, M. Welker, M. Ziewitz. Minor Member: C. Leuenberger. Emeritus: M. Lynch, J. Reppy, M. Rossiter

Students may obtain further information about the field and course offerings by contacting the S&TS graduate field office, 303 Morrill Hall, (607) 255-6047.

First-Year Writing Seminars:

Consult the John S. Knight Institute website for times, instructors, and descriptions.