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New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering    
  Jan 18, 2018
2013-2014 Undergraduate and Graduate Bulletin (with addenda) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Science and Technology Studies

Program Directors: Jonathan Bain, Christopher Leslie
Program Advisers: Christopher Leslie

General Information

Rapidly changing technology requires science and engineering students and professionals to keep abreast of the latest discoveries and innovations in their fields. It is also important for scientists and engineers, as well as an informed public, to see new knowledge in a larger context–that is, to be able to recognize and understand how these advances influence everyday life and, in turn, how the influence of society leads to these developments. Embryonic stem cell research, intellectual property and human genetics, the thrust towards alternative energies, and the rise of digital entertainment are just a few of the latest examples of how science and technology interact with society. Throughout history, scientific and technological innovations have had ethical, economic, social, and political impacts.

Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary field of study committed to exploring the interrelationships between science and technology on the one hand, and society on the other. STS unites a myriad of disciplines, such as history, philosophy, rhetoric, literary studies, and sociology, to investigate these interrelationships. How do science and technology shape society? How do social processes frame scientific and technological enterprises? What is the relationship between the content of scientific and technological knowledge, and the social and intellectual context in which it is created?

The STS program at NYU-Poly is characterized by its collegiality and its focus on interdisciplinary collaboration with other degree programs. An STS graduate bears the distinctive marks of all three parts of an NYU-Poly degree: top-notch education in a scientific or technical field, a comprehensive foundation in the humanities, and an awareness of the synergies between science, technology, and society.

At NYU-Poly, STS Majors Study Topics such as:

Biology and Genetics

The fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering raise significant scientific and ethical issues in the areas of new pharmaceuticals, cloning, stem cell research, genetic privacy, and the patenting of human genes. STS students approach these topics from a broad perspective, understanding both the scientific and philosophical issues arising in these important fields so that they can be capable advisers of public policy and thoughtful innovators in the new rounds of scientific inquiry.

The History of Science and Technology

The Scientific Revolution significantly altered humankind’s conception of itself and the universe. Scholastic methods of reasoning were replaced by new scientific methods of observation and experimentation as evidenced by Galileo’s telescope. New tensions arose between religion and science: who had the power to interpret God’s universe, philosophers or theologians? STS students study these important events to help understand current scientific controversies and directions.

History and Philosophy of Physics

The field of physics plays an important role in our scientific and technological understanding of the world. What do the fundamental theories in physics really tell us about the world? What is the relationship between the mathematical descriptions that physicists employ and the nature of physical phenomena such as matter and forces, space and time? STS students obtain firm foundations in both philosophy and physics to consider these and other questions related to the role physics plays in both science and technology.

The History of Media Technology

An STS approach to the history of media considers media as specific, technological devices. STS students study such topics as the diffusion of Internet technologies across international borders during the latter part of the 20th century, the history of the dialogue between such technologies and their cultural and physical environments, and the on-going evolution of their interaction with national systems of laws, politics, and economics.

Program Highlights

The Resources of New York City’s Preeminent Technological Institution

What better place to study the relations among science, technology, and society than in New York City, the most culturally and socially diverse, technology-driven urban center in the world? In addition, STS majors take full advantage of the course offerings of the second-oldest engineering research institute in the country as well as the computing and research facilities associated with a premier leader in technology innovation.

The Technology/Science Requirement

STS majors fulfill a tech/sci requirement that is the equivalent of a minor in a particular field of technology or science, with significant exposure to other fields. Tech/Sci offerings include courses in multi-disciplinary subjects such as nanotechnology, robotics, and computer game design, as well as more traditional subjects in engineering and the natural sciences.

Faculty Mentors

Each STS major is assigned a faculty mentor who provides assistance in choosing electives, constructing the tech/sci minor, and designing and implementing project courses.

Project-Oriented Education and Research

STS majors may elect to undertake a project oriented semester studying abroad or engaged in an internship. In addition, students may undertake Directed Studies projects during their time at NYU-Poly. All STS majors must complete a senior Capstone Project. These requirements and opportunities provide students with essential experience in conducting and presenting research at public forums within the institute.

Career Tracks

Their training in both tech/sci and the liberal arts allows STS graduates to pursue:

  • Medical school, law school, or business school.
  • Technology consultants at consulting firms.
  • Technology equity analysts at investment institutions.
  • Science journalists or science educators.
  • Science and technology policy administrators in the public or private sectors.
  • Graduate school in Science and Technology Studies; Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy; History of Science, or Philosophy of Science; Science and Technology Journalism.

STS Double Major

Students in a technical or scientific major at NYU-Poly or a different unit of NYU may easily obtain a second major in STS. These students can fulfill the Technology/Science Requirement for the STS major with the courses for their other majors. These students can also use their six General Education Humanities and Social Sciences Electives to partially satisfy the STS Restricted Electives Requirement. STS double majors must also satisfy the STS Core Requirement.

Sample Typical Courses of Study

A typical STS semester is split between two tech/science courses and two humanities/social sciences courses. The flexibility of the STS major admits many variations, some with heavier tech/sci concentrations than others. Students work closely with their mentors in constructing an appropriate programs of study. The following sample schedules indicate some of the possible Tech/Sci concentrations. Additional sample schedules are available upon request.


    Non-DegreeBachelor of Science