About Science, Technology and Society (STSC)
Science, Technology & Society (STSC) examines the social contexts in which science and technology occur, the organizations of people and things that make up science and technology systems, and the social and cultural consequences of scientific and technological change over time. In a wide array of courses, STSC majors explore the relationship between scientific knowledge, technological innovations, technological systems, and society past and present.
STSC is a liberal arts major with an interdisciplinary methodology. It balances core courses and department electives with a submajor focused on a more specialized interest within science and technology studies.
This program equips students with sophisticated critical faculties, multidisciplinary skills and wide knowledge that enables our graduates to go into business, law, government, journalism, research, and education. STSC provides a foundation for citizenship in a globalizing, diversifying world with rapid technological and scientific change. STSC majors are able to:
- Read scientific, technological and historical texts critically, assessing their social, cultural, and political origins and ramifications
- Identify the social determinants of science and technology in historical and contemporary contexts;
- Analyze the interplay of social and historical factors that have resulted in particular scientific and technological outcomes;
- Pursue research projects using published sources, technical and experimental data, and archival materials
- Analyze data using both quantitative and qualitative methods
- Build strong arguments (an argument is the use of reasoning to transform information into evidence for a conclusion).
Why major in STSC? What our graduates say:
"I've long struggled with expressing the merit of my Science, Technology, and Society studies – until I realized that the inexpressible was the merit itself. As opposed to the many pre-professional, unambiguous majors of my peers, STSC has given me a flexible analytical framework which which to see the world – a brilliant alchemy of history, sociology, and anthropology. Robert Safian, the editor of Fast Company, declared our generation 'Generation Flux' – the age of agility and adaptability – and I could think of no better way to prepare for this world that my studies in STSC."
"When I look back at my time at Penn, one of the best parts of my college experience was my major: Science, Technology, and Society. I was able to meet frequently with professors and develop close relationships, take a variety of fascinating lecture and seminar courses, work passionately on my thesis for over a year with continuous help and support from my advisors, and create lasting friendships with other STSC major students."
"STSC challenged me to examine the relationships between science and technology, and the material, social, religious, political, and cultural environments in which these practices occur. This type of thinking and approach, along with the writing and research skills I developed, have been applicable to many aspects of my job and graduate level courses."
"My coursework taught me to approach all tasks with clear and rational thinking. It has shown me the rewards of perseverance, innovation, and careful attention to detail. These lessons will translate well when developing complex solutions in the business world."
For Prospective Students
- This website contains detailed information about the major and we urge prospective students to study it thoroughly in advance of contacting faculty or visiting campus.
- Any appointments with faculty must be arranged prior to visiting campus and depend on faculty schedules and availability.
- If you wish to speak with the STSC Chair, Dr. Etienne Benson (ebenson@sas) or Associate Director Dr. Ann Greene (angreene@sas) please contact them by email to arrange an appointment.
- If you wish to visit classes, the recommended courses for visitors are listed on the College’s “Courses for Visitors” page. Prospective students should check with the course instructor to make sure that the day they plan to visit is good for seeing the class in action, and that there is no field trip or exam on that day.
- The most appropriate classes for visitors are lecture classes. If a student very much wishes to visit a freshman seminar or other seminar class, they must email the instructor for permission. Due to the character of seminars, these classes are not always well-suited for observation and participation.
Myths about Majors:
- there is a specific major for every career path
- the major I pick determines my future
- there is only one path to a successful future
- I have to know exactly what career path I am on
- I am the only person at Penn who doesn't know what they want to do after college
- I have to focus on something pre-professional right now
- there is a Penn pre-med major
- there are certain majors for getting into law school