The Origins of STS at Penn State
Marlowe, Rustum, and I came together around one of Rustum’s innovations: the inter-disciplinary Science, Technology, and Society Program at Penn State. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we were already well into the Information Revolution. Rustum and other visionary faculty realized that higher education needed not only to help people understand the importance of science and technology, but to prepare them as citizens and professionals to deal with the impact of science and technology on society. This required a curriculum—the STS Program—that would bring together scientists, social scientists, and humanists explore the issues.
While I was doing some background research on Gary Miller, a pioneer of distance education at Penn State, I stumbled upon this post on his blog about the origins of the STS program here.
Have to say that I’m disappointed it hasn’t grown more in the past forty years. The need for people who understand the impact of science and technology is just as important as it was then, especially since later forms of information technology exist closer to our psyche and are therefore harder to consider in a detached and objective manner (i.e. to what extent is my understanding of Facebook’s effects on society informed by my daily use of the site?).