The Department of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) advances understanding of the social and ethical dimensions of science and technology. STS provides instruction in subjects that are essential to the education of professional engineers. This instruction forms the core of a liberal education and lays the foundation for ongoing professional development. All STS courses emphasize the relationships among science, technology, and society; ethics; and oral and written communication.
In addition to the first- and fourth-year courses (STS 101 and 401-402), required of all Engineering undergraduates, the department offers an array of 200-level courses from which each student must choose at least one. Additional elective courses are offered at the 300 level. Drawing on disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, these courses provide a variety of perspectives—social, historical, esthetic, ethical, religious—on engineering, science, and technology. In their senior year, all engineering undergraduates undertake a senior thesis project. Students work with a faculty member in their major and with an STS faculty member teaching STS 401-402; the thesis work includes integration of the technical subject matter with its ethical and social context. STS courses are supplemented by course work in the College of Arts and Sciences. STS courses connect the humanities and social sciences to engineering knowledge and practice. The STS component of the UVa engineering degree ensures that students have seriously considered the moral and social aspects of their future life’s work.