Skip directly to main navigation | secondary navigation | main content

Department of Science and Technology Studies

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Science and Technology Studies

Science and Technology Studies




Car Engine


Viewing Eclipse Circa 1930


Nuclear Protest

Previous ImageNext Image

What is Science & Technology Studies?

globe-sts1In light of the importance of science and technology (S&T) in the world today, there is a need for scholarly work on its social dimensions. The Department of Science & Technology Studies is dedicated to research and teaching about scientific knowledge and technology in its social context. In their research, faculty members examine S&T both in contemporary societies and through historical investigations. The goal is to build a body of theory and empirical findings about:

    • The social processes through which scientific and technical knowledge—whether packaged into texts, people, machines, images, or other forms—is created, evaluated, challenged, spread, transformed, and fitted into social relations.
      • The ways people use, reconfigure, and contest scientific knowledge and technology.
  • The normative issues entangled in scientific and technological developments.
  • The place of science and technology in the modern world.


Through its teaching as well as its research, the department is playing a notable role in building the emerging discipline of Science & Technology Studies (STS). Founded in 1991, the department has an internationally-known Ph.D. Program devoted to training students to conduct advanced research. It also has two undergraduate majors, Biology & Society and Science & Technology Studies.  Learn More.

The Biology & Society Major is designed for students who wish to combine training in biology with exposure to perspectives from the social sciences and humanities on the social, political and ethical aspects of modern biology.  This major is intended for students who have an interest in law, medicine, health services administration and other professional schools and for preparation for graduate programs in various fields.  Learn More.

The Science & Technology Studies Major furthers students’ understanding of the social and cultural meanings of science and technology.  It is ideal for students pursuing careers in law, public policy or management, as well as for scientists, engineers and others interested in science, technology and society. Learn More.

The Minor in Science & Technology Studies also offers a way for undergraduates specializing in other fields to gain an appreciation for the social dimensions of science and technology. Learn More.

Faculty Publications

The Intelligibility of Nature

The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World
Peter Dear

Examines episodes in the history of science from the 17th to the 20th centuries to explore the richness and diversity of scientific understanding, and debates over making sense in science.