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STS101: Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society

Course Syllabus for "STS101: Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society"

Please note: this legacy course does not offer a certificate and may contain broken links and outdated information. Although archived, it is open for learning without registration or enrollment. Please consider contributing updates to this course on GitHub (you can also adopt, adapt, and distribute this course under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license). To find fully-supported, current courses, visit our Learn site.

This course will introduce you to the field known as Science and Technology Studies (STS). STS is an interdisciplinary field that examines how science and technology shape societies, cultures, and the environment and how social, cultural, and environmental factors shape the development of science and technology. These rich connections are most easily seen in areas such as the Internet and other digital technologies; the biological sciences (including biotechnology, genetics, and genomics); medical sciences and technologies; energy sciences and technologies; and ecological and environmental sciences. STS also studies the history of science, focusing on how social and cultural values and interests have shaped science and technology. This course begins with an introduction to STS and continues by examining the nature of science according to various philosophical perspectives. In the process, you will be introduced to key terms necessary for understanding those perspectives. When you have finished this course, you will be able to explain developments in science and technology in terms of their interactions with social, cultural, environmental, and other issues. This course will also prepare you for the STS major by introducing its core components: the philosophy of science, history of science, history of technology, science and ethics, and science policy.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • define STS;
  • define key terms necessary for understanding the field of STS;
  • identify and define the major subfields or approaches to the field of STS;
  • define the nature of science and technology according to several key philosophical perspectives;
  • identify and define the major methodologies of each of the subfields;
  • identify major thinkers in the field and pair them with their respective approaches and/or methods;
  • compare and contrast the various STS approaches;
  • draw on case studies in order to discuss and identify how the major approaches or subfields may be used to explain and/or critique particular scientific and technological phenomena; and
  • identify and explain legitimate questions and criticisms that STS poses to the science and technology fields.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to STS101: Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: Michael D. Rectenwald, Ph.D. and Dr. Warren Dym

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a variety of free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following sources:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. You will also need to pass the final exam with a score of 70% or higher. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take approximately 97 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to use these time advisories to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, unit 1 should take 21.25 hours. Perhaps you can look at your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 18.25 hours) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.