Minor in Science and Society

Director

Professor Jackson, Gallatin/Faculty of Arts and Science

Steering Committee

Associate Professor Appuhn, Faculty of Arts and Science
Professor Jackson, Gallatin/Faculty of Arts and Science
Assistant Professor Mills, Steinhardt

Science and society is a rich, inherently cross-disciplinary minor, drawing on the course offerings and faculty expertise of the College of Arts and Science, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. The minor analyzes how the techniques and methodologies of the humanities and social sciences can be used to illuminate both the context and content of science, technology, and medicine. Drawing upon history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology, students investigate how culture and society frame—and, indeed, are themselves framed by—science, technology, and medicine.

The current influence of scientific, technological, and medical issues on our lives is unprecedented, altering our notions of race, health, responsibility, ownership, ethics, aesthetics, and self. We are therefore obliged to understand these critical interactions with a view to understand, and intervene in, the world. The types of questions this minor poses include: How has gene patenting affected both the content and conduct of molecular biology, as well as intellectual property law? What is the relationship between the mathematical descriptions that physicists employ and the nature of physical phenomena? What are the ethical and political issues involved in human embryonic stem cell research? How do machines shape aesthetics? What, if anything, is the difference between a machine and a human? How does nature have a history?

This minor serves as an enlightening complement to pre-health studies, pre-law studies relevant to intellectual property, biotechnology, and environmental and healthcare studies. It also provides a potent training to those interested in pursuing advanced degrees in the history, philosophy, sociology, or anthropology of science, technology, or medicine.