Curriculum Overview 

This interdisciplinary program deals with the nature of science and technology, the history and philosophy of science and the interaction of science, technology and human society. The program is designed to make it possible for students to link related work in several disciplines, including a methodology course in at least one of those disciplines. The program has its own courses and it draws on courses given in several departments.

The program offers three distinct minors: History and Philosophy of Science; Science and Society; and Medicine in Society (including study of public health). Each minor is designed to enable students to conceive and pursue individualized programs of interdisciplinary study in these three broad areas, within the field of Science, Technology and Society.

Each minor will consist of six courses, including: a core course that is introductory to the proposed minor; an appropriate mid-level methodology course; three electives; and a capstone course involving substantial work on an individual project, either as independent study or in an advanced seminar. Each student’s proposed minor program must be approved by the chairperson of the STS Program, acting in consultation with the STS Committee.

The following lists include courses that are appropriate for each minor. These course lists and designations are not exhaustive; other courses may be appropriate. Some courses listed have prerequisites. Students who do not plan to take those prerequisites in fulfilment of other degree requirements, apart from the STS program, may have to take more than six courses to complete one of the STS minors.

History and Philosophy of Science. Core: STS 136; PHI 213; or an introductory course in any of the natural sciences. Methods: PHI 337; HIS 360; or a second course in a natural science sequence. Electives: STS 311; STS 312; STS 376; STS 383; STS 385; STS 386; STS 387; STS/PSY 489.

Science and Society. Core: STS 136; STS 117; GOV 215. Methods: ECO 210; GOV 250; SOC 302; ANT/WGS 355; ANT 410. Electives: STS 220; STS 223; STS 234; STS 312; STS 313; STS 352; STS 376; STS 383; STS 385.

Medicine in Society. Core: BIO 110, PBH 251. Methods: BIO 210; PSY 230; STS 234; BIO 305. Electives: STS 223; ANT 225; ANT/WGS 355; SOC 330; STS 311; BIO 322; BIO 338; STS 352; STS 383; STS 388; HIS 400; PBH 410; GOV 410; STS/PSY 489.

A major in Science, Technology and Society may be arranged through the Special Studies Program. Students interested in this program are urged to discuss their special interests with the chairperson of STS.

To be considered for honors in STS, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must complete a senior thesis (490).

Minors in the Science, Technology and Society program have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: School for International Training, Chile; Northwestern University: Public Health in Europe, Paris; Danish Institute for Study Abroad, Copenhagen. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered 

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (WP) World Perspectives requirement.

117. The Environment and Human Values. (S)
Study of historical and modern attitudes toward nature; human use of nature’s resources; effects of the growth of science and technology on human uses of and attitudes toward the environment; and the ability of modern humans to substantially alter the environment (e.g., by altering global temperature). Key concepts: human population growth; the notion of “limits to growth”; and the difficulty of managing the use of common pool resources. Same as ENE 117.    
Bratman, Cann, Hirsch, Strick

136. Science Revolutions. (NSP)
This course surveys the question of what constitutes a scientific revolution. Beginning with Thomas Kuhn’s famous theory in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970), we survey numerous episodes in the development of the sciences, from the seventeenth century to the present. Using case studies from chemistry, physics, life sciences, and the interdisciplinary field of origin of life studies, we try to determine what it would mean for a scientific revolution to occur, would happen, and how to assess whether such a thing might be underway currently. The course in many ways serves as a broad introduction to history and sociology of science.    

216. Environmental Policy. (S)
Surveys how federal, state and local regulations seek to protect human health and the environment. Introduces frameworks for managing wastes and protecting air quality, water quality and habitats. Reviews policy tools, including economic incentives, penalties and legal obligations. Reviews policy evaluation, focusing on federal statutes, the legislative process that creates them, the role of the judiciary and the success of environmental law in changing practices. Prerequisite: ENE/STS 117 or GOV 100. Offered every semester.  Same as ENE 216.
De Santo, Cann

223. Biomedical Ethics. (H)
A survey of ethical issues related to developments in biology and medicine, including controversies at the beginning and end of life, autonomy and informed consent, and limits on medical research. Same as PHI 223. 
Merli, Mensah

241. Ancient Medicine. (H) (NSP)
This course is an introduction to the origins and development of Western medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome. Students will read from the sources of the ancient theories and practices of medicine, including epic literature, pre-Hippocratic texts, the Hippocratic corpus, and a number of works by Galen, widely considered the most accomplished medical researcher in antiquity. These texts will be complemented by selections of texts by the PreSocratics, Plato, and Aristotle that reflect a reciprocal borrowing of vocabulary, argumentation, and diagnostic methodologies between the developing “art of healing” and various classical philosophical texts. All readings will be in English. Same as CLS 241.    

244. Indigenous Environmental Justice. (S) (NW) 
Examination of the way indigenous identity, human rights, and development intersect with the struggle for environmental justice around the world. Analysis of how each term in this course's title is open to legal fixing, activist redefinition, and diverse projects that render the environment something political. Considers distinct case studies drawn from several continents to show that some see being indigenous today as politically potent, while others take this category to be excessively vague or, even, invented; by focusing on ordinary lives and extraordinary struggles, we explore the wide variety of relationships to territory that "indigenous" encapsulates. Same as ENE 244.    

258. Contemporary Science Writing. (H)

In this course, we will examine texts ranging from popular science to science fiction, by scientists and nonscientists alike. As readers, we will be interested in the ways people write about science, and, as writers, we will try to put some of these principles into practice. We will be equally interested in the ethical, social, and philosophical questions that contemporary science raises, and in how to probe these questions in writing. Same as ENG/ENE 258.   
E. Anderson

260. Nature and Literature. (H)
Readings from a variety of traditions, periods, disciplines and genres to discover diverse assumptions about nature and humanity’s relation to it. Readings from both Western and non-Western cultures, though with emphasis on the British and Euro-American traditions. Such broad exploration across vast divides of time and culture should not only teach us about varied understandings of nature but also encourage self-consciousness as we form our own conceptions of what nature is and how we ought best to interact with and in it.  Same as ENE/ENG 260.    

311. History of Medicine. (S) (NSP)
The history of medicine with particular attention to American medicine. The relationship between medicine and society is studied in its historical context. We look in detail at some trends in modern medicine and the current debate over national health care policy in light of the history of medicine. Same as HIS 311.        

312. Environmental History. (S)
Examination of various approaches to environmental and ecological history. Focuses on ways in which the physical and biological world have affected human history and on ways in which human social and political organization, economic activities, cultural values and scientific theories have shaped our alteration and conservation of nature. Selected case studies from environmental and ecological history, with emphasis on the 17th through the 20th centuries. Same as ENE/HIS 312.  

313. Nuclear Weapons, Power and Waste Disposal. (S) (NSP)
Development of nuclear technology, beginning with the atomic bomb efforts of WW II. The course deals first with the technology itself, as well as with the ways in which it was embedded in and drove American and international politics, including the arms race and the Cold War. Includes postwar development of civilian nuclear power reactors, creation of the Atomic Energy Commission and the national debate over nuclear power and waste disposal methods. Same as ENE 313.    

315. Health Risks in the Environment.
Known and emerging environmental hazards represent significant public health risks to vulnerable populations. Case studies include lead, tobacco, asthma, nutrition, and endocrine-disrupting compounds as well as common airborne and waterborne chemical and biological pollutants. The course develops an understanding of acute, chronic and cumulative health risks that result from short-term and long-term environmental exposures. Important epidemiological, demographic and environmental justice parameters are incorporated into students’ projects that focus on at-risk groups, such as children, the elderly and immuno-compromised individuals. Same as ENE 315.     

318. Environmental History of Latin America. (NW) (S)
This course will examine the intersections of human history and culture with environmental change in Latin America from the early colonial period to the present. The major themes include the consequences and significance of the Columbian Exchange, the roles of religion and culture in shaping human relationships with nature, the development of export-led agriculture, urbanization, and the emergence of diverse environmental movements within Latin America. We will explore the origins of major environmental problems and the ways people have responded to these challenges. The course will also address how historian have approached the study of the environment. Same as ENE/HIS 318.    

337. Philosophy of Natural Science. (H) (NSP)
The goals, methods, assumptions and limitations of natural science. Special attention will be paid to the philosophy of psychology, cognitive science and evolutionary biology. Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy, or permission of the instructor. Same as PHI/SPM 337.    

351. China and the Global Environmental Crisis. (NW) (S) (WH)
This course links the local to the global, moving from ecological issues within China to related social issues, to global ecological-economic conditions. The course examines specific cases of environmental harm within China; provides a basic environmental-scientific knowledge of these problems; studies the relationship between these cases studies and poverty, government corruption, migration, ethnic conflict, etc.; and analyzes how the above conditions in China are intertwined with global capitalism, global poverty, and other conditions on the global level. Same as HIS/ENE 351. 

352. Lead Poisoning and Asthma in Urban Lancaster. (S)
Students learn about the epidemiology of asthma and lead poisoning, the pathways of exposure, and methods for community outreach and education. As it is a Community-Based Learning (CBL) course, students will work in service to the local community by collaborating with local school teachers and students in lessons that apply environmental research relating to lead poisoning and asthma in their homes and neighborhoods. They also take soil samples from locations in Lancaster and test their lead levels. Same as ENE/PBH 352.     

362. End of Nature?: Contemporary Anthropocene Literature (H)
Mass extinction, vast gyres of floating garbage, melting polar ice caps, ocean dead zones, rising atmospheric carbon levels, super storms: have we entered the anthropocene -- the geologic “age of man”? The experience of an Earth nowhere untouched by humans finds expression in all genres of literature and generates unfamiliar and compelling new ways of conceiving our species and our world. Readings include science fiction, realist fiction, poetry, non-fiction and theory. It is recommended that students complete at least one college-level literature or environmental studies course before enrolling. Same as ENG/ENE 362.    

365. History of Occult Knowledge and Pseudoscience. (NSP)
The class will gain a basic familiarity with the history of the occult sciences and pseudoscience. Students will learn about the boundaries between what they define as “bunk” and what they dub “legitimate” science, what is authentic knowledge about nature, and who gets to define what counts as proper science. Likewise, the class will gain skills to understand the nature of science itself and how it operates. Same as NSP 365.    

383. Sex, Lies and Book Burning: Life and Work of Wilhelm Reich. (S)
Upper level seminar: A survey of the life and work of famous psychoanalyst, controversial laboratory scientist Wilhelm Reich. The course reviews a wide range of Reich’s writings from psychology, political science, to biology and physics (95% primary source readings). We also survey the historical context of Austria and Germany 1918-1939 and the U.S. 1939-1957. Finally we look in depth at Reich’s clash with the U.S. government over whether scientific work can be judged in a court of law and the government-ordered burning of his books in 1956 and 1960. Same as HIS/WGS 383.    

385. The Darwinian Revolution. (S) (NSP)
This seminar course draws on historical and scientific work to analyze the roots of Darwinian thinking in economics, social policy toward the poor, religious thought, politics and the sciences in which Darwin was trained. In individual research projects, students assess the ways in which “Darwinism” was applied for social, political, economic and theological purposes, as well as scientific ones. This course provides the historical background necessary for understanding Darwinian biology and the present-day Creation/evolution conflict. Prerequisite: Permission of in-structor required for first-year students to enroll. Same as HIS 385.    

386. Changing Concepts of the Universe. (NSP)
Historical examination of primitive and early cosmologies to present-day theories of the organization, extent and nature of the universe. Early Greek astronomy to present-day “big bang” theory. Use of simple astronomical instruments to reproduce observations of early astronomers. (Not a laboratory course.) Same as AST 386.    

387. Archaeoastronomy. (NSP)
Fundamental astronomy of ancient cultures; Stonehenge and other stone rings in England and Europe; circles and temples in the Americas, Asia and Africa; time-keeping and calendars; predictions of seasons and eclipses. Methods of analysis; motions of celestial bodies; use of planetarium, celestial globes and grids; surveying of sites. (Not a laboratory course.) Same as AST 387.    
E. Praton

370-379. Topics in Science, Technology and Society.
Study of a topic or topics in the relationship between science, technology and society. Topics vary by semester and are offered by the faculty of several academic departments. May be taken more than once if the topic changes. A recent topic has been Social History of Tuberculosis.    

452. History and Philosophy of Psychology.
The historical origins of contemporary psychology in European philosophy, physiology, and biology, and subsequent development of the schools of structuralism, functionalism, Gestalt, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis. Emphasis on identifying the goals, implicit assumptions, and potential contributions of scientific psychology. Prerequisites: Senior psychology major status or permission of instructor. Same as PSY 452.

Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2022-2023 

  • Narratives of Disability.
  • History of Reproductive Health in Mexico.
  • COVID-19, Population, and Health Inequalities.