Science and Technology in Society Upcoming Graduate Courses List (NCR Campus)
STS 5024,Graduate Level, (3 Credit Hours)
Introduction to Science and Technology Studies

This seminar introduces graduate students to the field of STS and some of its major ideas and texts. We will discuss how STS differs from other fields and the advantages and limits of our unique interdisciplinary approach. Drawing on anthropological, historical, philosophical, and sociological methods, we will explore topics such as the foundations of scientific knowledge; science as a source of social power and authority; understanding technological systems; race, gender, and postcolonial perspectives; and public engagement with science and technology. You will become familiar with some of the major questions and theories that have been debated by STS scholars and learn how the focus of the field has changed over time. Weekly exercises in critical reading, written commentary, and discussion leading will help you learn how to think and communicate like an STS scholar. Thursdays 7:00–9:45 pm, NVC Falls Church and Blacksburg (Video conference)

  • Offering Department

    Science and Technology in Society
  • Virginia Tech Time Table

    Time Table of Classes
  • Registration Form

    Add/Drop Online
  • Instructors

    Janet Abbate and James Collier
  • Email

    abbate@vt.edu
STS 5105,Graduate Level, (3 Credit Hours)
Contemporary Issues in Science and Technology Studies (core course)

This course is the first of two courses that introduce students to the social studies of science and technology. This class primarily focuses on the emergence and development of the social studies of science from the early part of the century to 2000. In order to understand this important movement, it is necessary to spend a few weeks studying some formative sociologists from the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Several weeks will be spent reading and analyzing background social science texts. The course provides an understanding of the pertinent social theories of the early through mid-twentieth century through 2000. The readings and discussions will look at science through these various social lenses focusing on a series of debates that are formative in STS. Class discussion will be geared toward understanding the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the STS discipline toward facilitating current STS concepts and framings. Methodological and pedagogical goals for the course include learning how to read critically and analytically. Short essays and online discussions will be oriented toward this goal. Students will also learn how to “map” the development and emergence of the social study of science, and practice the ability to successfully complete PhD prelim exam questions by completing a prelim-style final exam. The course is open to both Blacksburg and NCR students. It will be taught in-person from Falls Church for the first 6 weeks and then go online for the remainder of the semester. Wednesdays 7:00–9:45 pm, NVC Falls Church (and Blacksburg by videoconference)

  • Offering Department

    Science and Technology in Society
  • Virginia Tech Time Table

    Time Table of Classes
  • Registration Form

    Add/Drop Online
  • Instructors

    Barbara Allen
  • Email

    ballen@vt.edu
STS/SPIA 6564,Graduate Level, (3 Credit Hours)
Risk in Contemporary Culture (elective)

This seminar provides an introduction to the phenomenon of risk from a sociological, historical, and cultural perspective. We will ask questions such as: What constitutes a risk and for whom? Who gets to decide what risks are worth taking? What constitutes credible information and what role do experts play? We will explore how ideas of safety, reliability, and probability shape our understanding of risk, and address the assumptions underlying and influencing the practices of risk assessment and regulation. We will focus on the role of communication, trust, and legitimacy in risk management and regulation, and debate which democratic policy instruments might facilitate stable, consensual decisions in contemporary societies. In addition to theoretical essays, we will discuss a selection of cases. Assignments include short weekly responses to the readings, peer review of your colleagues’ drafts, and writing a research paper on a risk topic of your choice.
Mondays 7:00–9:45 pm, NVC Falls Church

  • Offering Department

    Science and Technology in Society
  • Virginia Tech Time Table

    Time Table of Classes
  • Registration Form

    Add/Drop Online
  • Instructors

    Sonja Schmid
  • Email

    sschmid@vt.edu
STS 6244,Graduate Level, (3 Credit Hours)
History, Culture, and Politics of the Internet (elective)

The Internet pervades American life and increasingly structures the ways people work and socialize around the globe. As we adopt digital media and use them to create new forms of cultural expression, we also raise a host of new social and policy questions. This course uses STS frameworks to explore the history, social aspects, and policy issues surrounding the Internet. Weekly readings and discussion will highlight a variety of topics including the origins of the Internet, comparisons of Internet use in other cultures, debates over social media, and the Internet as a force for democracy in the Arab Spring and beyond. A portion of class time will be dedicated to student-driven team research projects for which students will choose their own topics, goals, and deliverables.
Tuesdays 7:00–9:45 pm, NVC Falls Church