The science, technology and society program ensures that undergraduates understand the relationships between technology and society; are equipped to be ethical engineers; and have strong proficiency in written communication. The goal of the program is to educate leaders who bring broad perspectives and essential skills to engineering for social good.
As a field, STS is concerned with understanding how people create new knowledge and new devices and how these activities are shaped by political, economic, and social forces. To do so, STS experts look at technology and society together—without privileging one over the other—and they draw on concepts from across the humanities and social sciences, including history, philosophy, literature, psychology, and anthropology. Through their research and teaching, STS scholars view technology as being multifaceted and complicated, and as a highly significant element of the human experience.
At UVA, the mission of the STS program is to empower and motivate the next generation of engineering professionals so that they are capable of making creative, ethical, and inspired contributions to the design of our socio-technical future. The Program does so by combining instruction in STS concepts with the development of student skills in research, critical thinking, and communication (both written and oral). The Program prides itself on producing professionals who are articulate and reflective, and hence fully prepared to participate in transformative engineering work for the world.
Notably, the UVA STS program is the only STS program in the U.S. situated within an engineering school at a national, comprehensive university. STS programs at peer institutions like MIT, Cornell, and Stanford are housed in the colleges of humanities and social sciences. Faculty in the UVA Program are close to the point of the knowledge production that they study while at the same time they are partners in engineering education. As a result, the STS program at UVA is unique in the way that it integrates a deep understanding of technology with broad perspectives about society and culture.