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Department of Science and Technology Studies

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Science and Technology Studies

Biology & Society Major




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"When I was a sophomore, I took a course called 'Medicine, Culture, and Society,' that required me to interview one of my close friends and write an illness narrative about her experience as a cancer patient.  Her story reaffirmed one of the main themes of the course:  a medical degree was not necessarily enough to fully heal and truly help a patient.  Medication and surgeries, while curing the physiological problem, often left the emotional psychological side effects of the illness untreated. After writing that narrative, my career interests shifted from the practice of medicine to healthcare improvement, communications, and administration.  I am particularly interested in how changes to the hospital environment and the doctor-patient relationship could potentially alleviate, if not prevent, the emotional and psychological side effects of illness and thus improve patient well-being and survival."

-2014 Biology & Society Alum


"Biology and Society is a unique major, unlike any I know of at other universities.  The variety of courses offered, as well as their applicability to real-world problems in science and medicine makes BSoc an excellent major for anyone interested in a career in science and/or sociology."

-2013 Biology & Society Alum

The Biology & Society Major

sts-bioThe Biology & Society Major is designed for students who wish to combine training in biology with perspectives from the social sciences and humanities on the social, political and ethical aspects of modern biology. Many of the most critical social concerns of our time -- food and population; impact of genetic engineering and new medical technologies; testing for drugs; AIDS and genes; the influence of heredity versus environment on human behavior; environmental quality; and ethical, legal and social aspects of modern medical practice -- are innately biological. At the same time, each of these issues is inherently a social concern and involves complex relations between biological and sociocultural forces. The Biology & Society major is intended to provide the skills and perspectives to enable its students to systematically confront these and many other social-biological issues. For a detailed description of the Major, see the section on Biology & Society in the Courses of Study.

Each student's program incorporating the requirements of the major is planned in consultation with a faculty member and is designed to accommodate individual goals and interests. Students who complete the requirements for the Biology & Society major leave Cornell with well-developed writing and analytical skills and with the ability to confront complex issues. Biology & Society graduates are thus equipped to enter a variety of careers. Students have found the Major is also excellent preparation for law, medicine, health services administration, and other professional schools and for graduate programs in genetic counseling, nutrition, clinical psychology, public health, environmental studies, anthropology, sociology or other related fields. Students have gone on to successful careers in the healthcare industry, legal profession, policymaking, scientific research, and many other exciting professions. 

Contact Information

Stacey Stone
Undergraduate Program Coordinator
The Biology & Society Major
Dept of Science & Technology Studies
306 Rockefeller Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853 USA
Telephone: (607) 255-6047

Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Professor Suman Seth (

Agriculture & Life Sciences Advising Coordinator:
Professor Randy Wayne (

Human Ecology Advising Coordinator:
Professor Kay Obendorf (