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Science and Technology Studies Courses

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Take individual courses in science and technology
(Campus: Greater Washington, D.C., Metro Area)

Course Title: Contemporary Issues in S&T 

Course Code: STS-5106, CRN: 19913 

Credit Hours: 3

Instructor: Barbara Allen, Professor 

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Semester: Spring (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description:  This course is the second of two core courses that introduce students to the social studies of science and technology. While the first course focuses on the emergence and development of the social studies of science as a field, this course examines more contemporary theories and approaches to science and technology. Over the last few decades, scholars in Science and Technology Studies (STS) have developed new theoretical and methodological approaches to analyzing not only the transformative impacts of technoscience on society, but also how social arrangements fundamentally influence their development in the first place. Readings will include foundational texts relevant to contemporary issues in STS as well as more recent scholarship and topics. Students will come to understand from a variety of viewpoints how societies and technosciences interact. Prerequisites: STS 5105 or Intro to STS is strongly recommended.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Main Themes in the Philosophy of Modern Science and Technology 

Course Code: STS-5305, CRN: 20179  

Credit Hours: 3

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Instructor: James Collier, Associate Professor 

Semester: Spring (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description: What is the purpose of philosophy? What, specifically, is the purpose and place of the philosophy of science in Science and Technology Studies (STS)? Given the general shift in interest in STS to technology, technoscience, and micro- sociological and anthropological methods and research, how might being philosophically-minded cash out in scholarly practice? Our class will take up these metaphilosophical questions in examining how the philosophy of science and technology speaks to issues in STS. Initially using an historical approach, we will map the respective approaches in continental and analytic philosophy, examine the social turn in the philosophy of science through the 20th to the early 21st century, and perform a close comparative reading of five signature articles from the philosophy of science and the philosophy of technology. Our learning goal is to develop a refined philosophical perspective for work in STS.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Risk in Contemporary Culture

Course Code: STS-6564, CRN: 19915  

Credit Hours: 3

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Instructor: Sonja Schmid, Associate Professor 

Semester: Spring (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description: 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 how to facilitate stable, consensual decisions in contemporary societies.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Main Themes in the History of Science 

Course Code: STS-5106, CRN: 89717 

Credit Hours: 3

Instructor: Janet Abbate, Professor 

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Semester: Fall (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description:  Was there really such a thing as the Scientific Revolution? What are the historical links between science and religion, technology, or politics? How have the knowledge-producing practices we call “science” varied across cultures and time periods, and how have individuals established an identity as scientists in different social contexts? This seminar is designed to provide you with the basic outlines of the history of Western science and to introduce key STS theories, approaches, and resources for historical research. We will survey some of the main schools of thought about the development of Western science and how have they been challenged. We will discuss issues such as the nature (or nonexistence) of scientific revolutions, the meaning of objectivity, scientific practices and institutions, and the influence of gender and race on scientific thought. The course will begin with ancient and medieval Science, focus in depth on the Scientific Revolution, and continue through the twentieth century.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs??

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Nuclear Nonproliferation, Safeguards, and Security 

Course Code: STS/NSEG/SPIA 5284, CRN: 90202 

Credit Hours: 3

Instructor: Sonja Schmid and Mark Pierson

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Semester: Fall (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description:  Nuclear energy is at a crossroads: on the one hand, control regimes to contain the spread of nuclear weapons are being refined, while there are still countries seeking to acquire these weapons. On the other hand, we see a revival of nuclear energy as a low-carbon source of energy in some parts of the world, and simultaneously decisions to phase out nuclear energy as not worth the risk of beyond-design accidents. More than ever, then, effective communication is needed between the communities involved: nuclear scientists and engineers, energy strategists, regulators, policy-makers, the nonproliferation community, and the general public. This course offers the next generation of nuclear engineers and science and technology policy scholars a solid introduction to the main features of our global nuclear nonproliferation regime. The seminar combines an overview of technical questions, historical developments, and policy challenges relating to nuclear energy and proliferation, using current case studies. Topics include origins of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, technical basics of the nuclear fuel cycle, international safeguards, and the threat of nuclear terrorism. Graduate students from all disciplines are welcome, particularly those from technical disciplines, STS, and international policy studies. There will be one instructor each in Blacksburg and in the National Capital Region.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Introduction to Science and Technology Studies 

Course Code: STS 5024, CRN: 89170 

Credit Hours: 3

Instructors: Sonja Schmid and Matthew Wisnioski

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Semester: Fall (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description:  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.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Advanced Topics in the History of Modern Science, Technology, and Medicine

Course Code: STS 6234, CRN: 

Credit Hours: 3

Instructors: John Cloud

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Semester: Summer (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description:  Current Topic: History of Earth and Climate Science: The Challenges of Time.  As climate change and especially global warming are considered the most critical problems of our age, it is interesting that the first formulation of the mechanism for this was written in 1896 by the Swedish physicist/chemist Svante Arrhenius. The mechanisms and the key equation emerged fully formed and still hold up today. Using the Stefan–Boltzmann law, Arrhenius formulated what he referred to as a 'rule': “If the quantity of carbonic acid [CO2] increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.” 

The objective of this class is to explore the pre-histories into histories of what we now call the natural or earth sciences, considered broadly to include humans and anthropology. The evolution of theories of climate change will be one focus, along with topics such as plate tectonics, biogeography and evolution, and the early information technologies that supported discipline-building and dissemination. Both “climate” and “change” are embedded in time. Scientific progress for some centuries now has been grounded in greatly expanded perceptions of the age of the earth and cosmos, and the lengths of the evolutions of life and culture, compared to earlier chronologies in all cultures.  Accordingly, the core text for the class will be Andrew Shryrock and Daniel Lord Smail’s Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present. Students will prepare research projects that will be presented and critiqued in the last two class sections.

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

Course Title: Advanced Topics in Science and Technology Policy

Course Code: STS 6664, CRN: 

Credit Hours: 3

Instructors: Raquel Machaqueiro

Campus Location: Northern Virginia Center

Semester: Summer (Current Timetable of classes)

Restrictions: Available to ALL Classes

Tuition Rates: $842.50 (per credit) Virginia Residents, $1,642.25 (per credit) Non-Virginia Residents  See Current Rates and Reduced Tuition for K-12 Teachers in VA Here

Description:  Current Topic:Science and Technology in Development.  Aid and development initiatives have been at the center of Western interventions in the Global South since the end of colonialism. Taking various forms—from HIV treatment to environmental conservation, from democratization to enforcement of Human Rights—these types of interventions have tremendous impacts in the lives of people from the so-called developing countries, while also significantly shaping transnational governance and policy-making. Differing in their scale and scope, development interventions share however, common features—such as the goal to improve the lives of those targeted—and common assumptions, many of which related to the presumed lack of knowledge, scientific experience, and access to technology by those deemed in need of development. This seminar will introduce students to some of the debates in Development, while paying a very close look to the role of science and technology in development initiatives. Through several ethnographic examples covering different areas of intervention in the Global South, the course will examine topics such as: science and technology’s inherent ties to unequal relations of power established during colonialism, and perpetuated through links of economic dependency; the role of science in defining development problems, and establishing the technical solutions to it; how local knowledges and experiences are often sidelined in development interventions; the deployment of scientific discourses in the depoliticization of development interventions, and in the reduction of governance to mere technocratic procedures; local interpretations and practices of development, modernity, and science and technology.

At the end of this course, students should be able to understand the role of science and technology in shaping development interventions, as well as critically discuss the effects (intended and unintended) of development on processes of global importance (such as health, democratization, political governance, and conflict). 

What do you need to apply for Non-degree Programs?

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with minimum of 3.0 GPA. Include scanned copy of your college transcripts with your online application, then you may need to arrange for an official copy to be sent to us after you receive an offer of admission. 
  • TOEFL or IELTS (For all non-U.S. citizens or non-U.S. permanent residents). Learn more about testing requirements.

When to apply?

Any time before one week of classes begin  (See Acedemic Calendar)

How to apply for Non-degree Programs?

Questions? 

Janet Abbate, STS NCR Co-Director, abbate@vt.edu OR  Sonja Schmid, STS NCR Co-Director, sschmid@vt.edu

We also offer graduate degrees in Science and Technology Studies!

Department of Science, Technology, and Society 
7054 Haycock Road, Falls Church, VA 22043, Phone: 703-538-8482