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Graduate Minor in Science, Technology, and Society (STS)
Program Advisor: Dr. Aleksandar Zecevic
The graduate minor in science, technology, and society (STS) is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of the influence that engineering has on society (and vice versa). Knowledge of this kind has become essential in an increasingly complex and interconnected world, in which purely technical expertise often needs to be supplemented by additional skills. In order to successfully operate in such an environment, engineers must (at the very least) have the ability to communicate clearly, function on interdisciplinary and diverse teams, and make ethically and socially responsible decisions. The minor consists of a Core and a set of electives, and entails a minimum of 12 units of coursework. It is open to all students who are pursuing a master’s degree in engineering, regardless of the specific program in which they are enrolled.
The need to develop such skills has been widely recognized in universities around the country, as witnessed by the growing emphasis on interdisciplinary studies in undergraduate engineering curricula. It is unusual, however, to encounter programs of this kind on the graduate level. Most traditional master’s programs still focus on specialized technical topics, and offer little insight into how practicing engineers might engage global challenges such as climate change, sustainability, or economic disparity (to name just a few).
The primary purpose of the STS minor is to offer graduate students an opportunity to examine some of these key social issues on an advanced level. The scope of the minor is broad, and includes topics that range from the social impact of new technologies, to applied ethics, sustainability, and religion. As such, it reflects an educational philosophy that goes well beyond narrow specialization and promotes a global and societal orientation. All the courses in this program have a distinctly interdisciplinary flavor, and are designed to develop creativity, innovation, and leadership.
The STS minor consists of a Core and a set of electives, and entails a minimum of 12 units of coursework. The Core courses cover four distinct thematic areas:
Students will be required to take courses in at least three of the Core areas outlined above (for a minimum of 6 units). The remaining units (up to a total of 12, or more if desired) can be accumulated by taking a combination of electives and additional STS Core courses.
The courses and the different thematic areas to which they belong are listed below. Note that courses that appear in multiple areas can be used to satisfy only one Core requirement (in other words, no “double dipping” is allowed).
Social and Philosophical Issues in Science and Engineering
Engineering and Ethics
Science and Religion
Sustainability and Engineering
Students who complete all the technical requirements set by their department, as well as an approved set of STS classes, will receive a master’s degree with a minor in science technology and society. The degree will be conferred by the department to which the student was originally accepted. Please note that the grades obtained in STS courses will be included in the overall GPA, and will carry the same weight as grades obtained in technical classes.
There are no financial or academic penalties for not completing the minor. Such students will receive the standard master’s degree, with no reference to the STS minor.
Financial Aid for the STS Minor
In order to become eligible for this benefit, students must check the appropriate box that pertains to financial aid on the application form. In addition, their program of studies must be approved by the academic advisor for the program (Dr. Aleksandar Zecevic). Financial aid comes into effect once a student completes 45 units of course work, at which point he or she should follow the procedure outlined below: