Santa Clara University

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Course Development

Jesuit education is organized around the idea of educating the person for “service to humanity,” and SCU states as its goal “the preparation of students to assume leadership roles in society.” Society is shaped by science and technology to such a profound degree that to be an effective leader or citizen one must understand, engage and shape social, scientific and technical forces. Yet many people compartmentalize science, technology and society as if they were three separate and distinct domains of human experience, rather than understanding them as mutually interpenetrating and reciprocally shaping each other. Students in the arts and humanities may view science and technology simply as aspects of society they can passively consume or reject, while students in the natural sciences or engineering may be content with thinking about their activities in the lab in isolation, indifferent to their social conditions and impacts. These narrow perspectives inhibit the more complex and critical thinking our students need in order to capably and responsibly shape our world's future. The purpose of STS in the core is to help our students develop this richer understanding and to develop the confidence and capacities to become leaders and citizens of a scientific and technological world.

All students have to fulfill STS learning goals and learning objectives. Most students will do so with a single STS course in the “Explorations” section of the new core, normally taken during sophomore or junior year. STS courses are likely to be more effective if students have first fulfilled their social science and natural science requirements as “Foundations.” Students in some majors (e. g. Engineering) will take an STS-themed Critical Thinking & Writing sequence that, combined with other coursework in their major, will fulfill the STS requirement for these majors only. Business School majors will be required to fulfill their STS requirement with OMIS 34.

Goals of STS Undergraduate Education at SCU

  1. Scientific Inquiry: Reflected in STS Learning Objective 2. Students need to develop an understanding not just of how science and/or technology impact society, but how science and/or technology themselves develop. As such, STS courses will actually help students understand some specific methods of inquiry by which science and/or technology have progressed.
  2. Science & Technology: Reflected in all the STS Learning Objectives, this is the goal of helping students to understand “the formative influences, dynamics, social impacts, and ethical consequences of scientific and technological development” (SCU Core 2009 Overview)
  3. Complexity: Reflected in STS Learning Objective 1.  STS courses will help students move beyond simplistic or shallow conceptions of science, technology and society, and their relationship, encouraging and enabling them to explore the complexities that mark their dynamics and their effects on one another.
  4. Critical Thinking: Reflected in STS Learning Objective 3. This indicates that students need more than a passive understanding of the dynamics of STS – they also need to be able to actively and critically engage those dynamics and their significance for our lives.  STS courses will help students develop the analytical and evaluative skills to form their own independent judgments about the impacts of science and technology on society, and vice versa.

STS Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize and articulate the complexity of the relationship between science and/or technology and society.
  2. Comprehend the relevant science and/or technology and explain how science and/or technology advance through the processes of inquiry and experiment.
  3. Analyze and evaluate the social impact of science and/or technology and how science and/or technology are themselves impacted by the needs and demands of society.

Where does STS appear in the new core?

All students have to fulfill STS learning goals and learning objectives. Most students will do so with a single STS course in the "Explorations" section of the new core, normally taken during sophomore or junior year. STS courses are likely to be more effective if students have first fulfilled their social science and natural science requirements as "Foundations." Faculty are encouraged to make these pre-requisites. Engineering and computer science majors will take an STS-themed Critical Thinking & Writing sequence that, combined with other coursework in their major, will fulfill the STS requirement for these majors only. Business School majors will be required to fulfill their STS requirement with a revised OMIS 34.

How does the Values in Science & Technology pathway differ from the STS requirement?

The Values in Science & Technology (VIST) pathway helps students make linkages between STS topics and disciplinary perspectives. The learning goals associated with the Pathways are Integrative Learning and Intentional Learning. These are "meta-level" goals within the Pathway as a whole. The Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) facilitates the VIST Pathway. All STS courses are automatically in the VIST Pathway, but this pathway is the largest with over 100 courses in it. It is available to all majors, but is highly compatible with engineering, natural and social sciences. VIST pathway courses can address any theme in science and technology, and do not have to fulfill the STS Learning Objectives. For example, an introductory natural science class could be in the pathway, but would not fulfill the STS core requirement. Courses from the humanities and social sciences with science and technology themes are particularly welcomed for the pathway.

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