Guide to Graduate Education in Science, Engineering and Public Policy
Guide to Graduate Education in Science, Engineering and Public Policy
Science and Technology Studies Department
|Science and Technology Studies Department
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th St.
Sage Building 5th Floor
Troy NY 12180-3590
Phone: (518) 276-6574 | Fax: (518) 276-2659
Professor Linda Layne,
The field of science and technology studies asks fundamental questions about the role of science and technology in social change. It integrates insights from the humanities and social sciences into a coherent body of knowledge that provides a basis for action. As they grapple with this central issue in the contemporary world, students in this field can expect broad, rigorous training, with commensurate intellectual rewards.
Founded in 1982, the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at Rensselaer is one of the few in the world that offers STS degrees from baccalaureate to doctoral levels. The graduate program emphasizes the cultural, historical, economic, political, and social dimensions of scientific and technological society, with a focus on ethical and values issues.
M.S. - Science and Technology Studies
Ph.D. - Science and Technology Studies
Full-time students require one year and a summer to complete the M.S. program; many prefer to spread the work over two years. Ph.D. students take 4-6 years to complete their programs.
M.S. in Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy
M.S. - Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in science, engineering, humanities or social science.
Ph.D. - A degree equivalent to Rensselaer's M.S. in STS is required.
Students holding master's degrees in other fields may be required to take
master's core courses as part of their Ph.D. work. Recent entrants' GRE
scores have averaged 2033 (for the combined Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical
scores) and GPAs have averaged 3.10. The Institute requires a minimum TOEFL
of 550, and for work in this department a minimum of 600 is recommended.
M.S. - Students must complete 30 credit hours, including a 6 credit master's thesis or internship. There are four required courses: Concepts in STS, Values and Policy, Research Methods, and a Research Seminar.
Ph.D. - The doctoral program requires completing 60 credit hours beyond the M.S. including a 30 credit hour dissertation. There are four required core courses: Science, Technology, and Policy; Technology and Social Theory; Science and Social Theory; and Nature of Inquiry. Students are required to take three field examinations: science studies, technology studies, or policy studies (2 of 3), and a specialty exam in an area the student chooses. Students are admitted to candidacy upon successfully defending their dissertation proposals.
PhD and MS/PhD Core Courses
- Technology Studies. Examines diverse intellectual approaches to the overlapping relationships of modern technology, society, culture, and political life. An encounter with books and other scholarly constructions, balanced with one's own personal experience of matters social and technical, move the discussion through interpretation and explanation to ask: Where are we headed and why?
- Science Studies. Develops the ability to understand, criticize, construct, and use theories of science as social relations, social productions, and social constructions. Reviews nature and types of social cultural theory. Students read and analyze works of the leading theorists of science in contemporary science studies and learn about theory construction as a craft.
- Policy Studies. Tracks the implications of theories in science and technology studies for democratic government action. Students read and evaluate current perspectives in science and technology policy and analyze strategies and opportunities for social change through collective decision making.
- Theory Option. This is satisfied by a menu of courses in philisophical, social, political, feminist, and cultural theory.
Electives can be filled in several ways.
Each semester, two or three optional graduate seminars are offered in the department. The topics are arranged to match student interests with faculty expertise. Recent examples include Western Science and Technology Since the Industrial Revolution; Material Culture; Gender, Science, and Technology; and Environment and Development. With support from the National Science Foundation, the department also offers a graduate seminar in design.
Readings courses with individual faculty. Student and faculty member agree on a reading list and meet regularly to discuss the topic. A list of courses faculty are particularly interested in offering is available in the student handbook. Other topics can be arranged between individual students and faculty.
Students may also take
- upper level undergraduate courses in STS
- courses offered in other departments, such as Technology and Organizations (Management), Productivity Measurement and Analysis of Technological Change (Economics), or Statistics (Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems)
- courses at other area campuses, including Sage College and the State University of New York at Albany.
About half have degrees in the natural sciences or engineering, about half in the social sciences or humanities. About half come directly from undergraduate or graduate training. The other half come after work experience of a few years or more.
There are 16 fulltime faculty trained in six fields of the social sicences and humanities. Research interests include: environmental and science and technology policy, cultural studies, medicine, political and social theory, design, science, technology and values.
Atsushi, Akera, Ph.D. ( Assistant Professor; history and sociology of science), Pennsylvania, 1998. Early history of scientific and technical computing in the United States, history of invention and innovation. Dr. Akera is the author of "Engineers or Managers? The Systems Analysis of Electronic Data Processing in the Federal Bureaucracy" in Hughes and Hughes (eds.) The Spread of the Systems Approach; "Discovering the Scientific User: Cuthbert Hurd, An Applied Science Field Man" Proceedings of the Conference on the History of Computing and Information Processing.
Sharon Anderson-Gold, Ph.D. (Dept. Head; philosophy), New School, 1980. Kantian ethics, history of modern philosophy, social and political philosophy, human rights, bioethics. Dr. Anderson-Gold is the author of Crimes Against Humanity: A Kantian Perspective on International Law, Autonomy and Community, Kant's Ethical Anthropology and the Critical Foundations of Kant's Philosophy of History, and History of Philosophy Quarterly.
Steve Breyman, (Associate Professor, Ecological Economics, Values and Policy; Ph.D. political science), California, Santa Barbara, 1992. Social movements, environmental politics and policy, Green parties, politics and theory, institutional greening, environment and development, environmental science. Dr. Breyman is the author of Movement Genesis: The West German Peace Movement and Social Movement Theory and Why Movements Matter: The West German Movement, the SPD and INF Negotiations (forthcoming).
Nancy D. Campbell (Associate professor). Interests: History of scientific research on drug addiction, history and sociology of bioethics, global public health, U.S. drug policy, science and technology policy, feminist science and technology studies, and postcolonial science and technology studies
Linnda R. Caporael, Ph.D. (psychology), California, Santa Barbara, 1979. Evolutionary theory, psychology and culture, social identity, design. Dr. Caporael is a contributor to Science, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Journal of Social Issues, Personality and Social Psychology Review, and other journals and books.
Ron Eglash, Ph.D. (history of consciousness), California, Santa Cruz, 1992. African studies, anthropology, architecture, black history, complexity theory, cybernetics, math and science education, economic development, virtual communities. Dr. Eglash is the author of African Fractals: Indigenous Design and Modern Computing.
Kim Fortun, Ph.D. (anthropology), Rice, 1993. Cultural and political-economic analysis of globalization, environmentalism, and information technology; science, technology and law. Dr. Fortun is the author of Advocating Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster New World Orders.
Michael Fortun, Ph.D. (history of science), Harvard, 1993. Historical and ethnographic studies of genomics, biotechnology and life sciences, ethical scientific literacy. Dr. Fortun is co-author of Muddling Through: Pursuing Science and Truths in the 21st Century.
David Hess, Director of Undergraduate Studies; Ph.D. (anthropology), Cornell, 1987. Medical anthropology, science studies, Brazil, alternative medicine, cancer therapy. Dr. Hess is the author of Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?, Science and Technology in a Multicultural World, Science Studies in the New Age, and Samba in the Night: Spiritism in Brazil.
Abby Kinchy (Assistant Professor)
Linda Layne, Hale Professor and Director of Graduate Studies; Ph.D. (anthropology), Princeton, 1986. Pregnancy loss, new reproductive technologies, consumer culture, popular representations of nature, universal design. Dr. Layne is the author of Home and Homeland: Dialogics of Tribal and National Identities in Jordan and Motherhood Lost: The Cultural Construction of Pregnancy Loss in the United States and is editor of The Rhetoric of the Gift: Transformative Motherhood in a Consumer Culture and Anthropological Approaches in STS.
Michael Mascarenhas (Assistant Professor)
Dean Nieusma (Assistant Professor) Interests - Design and social studies of design, development and appropriate technology, renewable energy technology, and the relationship between expertise and democratic process.
Sal Restivo (Professor)
Langdon Winner, Ph.D. (political science), Berkeley 1973. Political theory, technology and politics, social dimensions of design. Dr. Winner is the author of Autonomous Technology and The Whale and the Reactor and editor of Democracy in a Technological Society He is currently writing a book about the politics of design in the contexts of engineering, architecture, and political theory.
Edward Woodhouse, Ph.D. (political science), Yale, 1983. Democratic steering of technologies, risky technologies, nuclear power. Dr. Woodhouse is co-author of The Demise of Nuclear Energy, The Policy Making Process, and Averting Catastrophe: Strategies for Regulating Risky Technologies.
Graduates of the M.S. program have found jobs as government analysts, in the public interest sector, and other areas. Some go on to graduate study in law or other fields. Ph.D.s have found jobs in both academic and government.
Tuition for 1999-2000 is $665 per semester hour.
Of the students eligible for financial aid in 1999-2000, 22 have full or partial tuition support and 13 have full or partial stipend support.
Doctoral students entering Rensselaer may receive a package of aid that covers tuition and a stipend. The duration of the package ranges up to four or five years, thereby making our graduate offers competitive with other universities.
The Department offers graduate concentrations in contextual design and environmental policy. The campus offers rich additional resources for students in these areas and others.