Program in Technology and Society

Academic Unit

Program Information

One would be hard-pressed to find any aspect of society today that is not influenced by evolving technology in a significant way. Similarly, technology does not develop in a vacuum; by virtue of its applied nature, it is shaped by the needs and desires of individuals and the societies in which they live. Society and technology co-evolve, so that you cannot fully understand one without knowing something about the other. This cross-disciplinary certificate program is targeted to students, both engineers/scientists and humanists/social-scientists, who are interested in exploring this intersection in depth. Graduates who earn this certificate will be effective contributors to the shaping, development and deployment of technological solutions for the benefit of society.

The intersection of technology and society is broad touching on a wide range of technologies and on a variety of societal issues and concerns. To ensure depth, individual programs of study are offered along two technology tracks: Information Technology and Energy.

The Information Technology track is offered in partnership between the Keller Center and the Center for Information Technology Policy. Information technology (IT) broadly covers the computation and communication technologies that permeate virtually all aspects of corporate and social activity. The products and services enabled by it have had a major impact on the world economy and on social interactions. As we look to the future, emerging technologies in IT continue to address critical societal challenges such as economic development, health care, politics, education, productivity, government and social organization. At the same time, these technologies raise new challenges in security, law enforcement, privacy, economic stability and justice.

The Energy track is offered in partnership between the Keller Center and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. Provision and use of energy and natural resources in a sustainable way is the single biggest challenge for Americans and citizens of the world to preserve the planet for future generations. Our economic and national security as well as our overall ability to thrive as a society depends on fulfilling these foundational responsibilities. Population growth and the increasing desire of those who live in developing countries to live on par with those in developed countries are causing unprecedented demands for energy. How to meet these needs while protecting the environment is one of the most pressing challenges of our times. These problems are complex and intertwined, involving not only a need for advances in science and engineering, but also requiring changes in human behavior, economic analyses, and thoughtful policy.

Admission to the Program

Students are admitted to the program once they have chosen their field of concentration and consulted with the program director, who will assign them an adviser. Normally, students will have completed the program's core course prior to seeking admission.

Program of Study

The program provides a focus on technology (Information Technology or Energy) and society. An introductory gateway course Technology and Society (EGR/HIS/SOC 277) provides exposure to a broad set of issues at the intersection of technology and society. Following the introductory course, students study both the technological and societal aspects, which is critical to acquiring a good understanding of the disciplinary aspects of both sides of the issues that come up at this intersection. On the technology side, there is a rich set of courses in IT and Energy areas that have been designed to be accessible to all students on campus and that place the technical material in a broader application context. Similarly, on the societal side, technology issues are part of important courses in several departments such as Sociology and the Woodrow Wilson School. Finally, students need to conduct research on a specific issue through a one-term project with a subsequent written component (junior paper/thesis component) as well as a presentation at a program symposium.

Program Requirements

The following requirements need to be satisfied to earn the program certificate: core course, two technology courses, two societal courses, one breadth course, one-term independent research project, present project/thesis to the program students and faculty at an annual symposium. Pass/D/Fail policy: Students may use no more than one course taken on a Pass/D/Fail basis to satisfy program requirements.

Core Course. Technology and Society (EGR 277/HIS 277/SOC 277). This course provides students with the intellectual tools needed to approach the rest of the program -- a "set of lenses" that will help them view the issues being addressed in their work. Ideally, this course will be taken before the other required courses.

Technology and Society Courses (4 courses). This course requirement is intended to provide an understanding of the technology and societal aspects through a discipline-based study of both sides. Students must select either the Information Technology track or the Energy track and take the technology and societal courses from the respective list of courses.

Technology Courses. Each student is required to take two technology courses from a list that includes the courses below. These courses are mostly drawn from a set that includes courses specifically designed for a wider campus audience (no prerequisites). An advanced/one-time-only course may be used to replace one or both of these courses with the permission of the program adviser.

Technology Courses for Information Technology track:

APC 524/MAE 506/AST 506 – Software Engineering for Scientific Computing
COS 109/EGR 109 – Computers in Our World
COS 126 – General Computer Science (may be taken instead of COS 109)
COS 402 – Machine Learning and `Artificial Intelligence
COS 424/SML 302 – Fundamentals of Machine Learning (previously entitled: Interacting with Data)
COS 429 – Computer Vision
COS 432 – Information Security
COS 433/MAT 473 – Cryptography
COS 435 – Information Retrieval, Discovery, and Delivery
COS 445 – Networks, Economics and Computing
COS 455/MOL 455 – Introduction to Genomics and Computational Molecular Biology
COS 461 – Computer Networks
COS 597E – Advanced Topics in Computer Science – Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (one time course – fall 2014)
COS 597G – Advanced Topics in Computer Science – Surveillance and Countermeasures
COS 598B – Advanced Topics in Computer Science – Privacy Technologies
COS 598D – Advanced Topics in Computer Science – Analytics and Systems of Big Data
ELE 201 – Information and Signals (may be taken instead of ELE 222)
ELE 222a/b/EGR 222a/b – The Computing Age
ELE 381/COS 381 – Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes
ELE 386/EGR 386 – Cyber Security
ELE 391/EGR 391 – The Wireless Revolution: Telecommunications for the 21st Century
ELE 464 – Embedded Computing
ELE 470 – Smartphone Security and Architecture
ELE 477 – Kernel-Based Machine Learning
ELE 535 – Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition
ELE 538 – Special Topics in Information Sciences and Systems – Information Theoretic Security
ELE 574 – Security and Privacy in Computing and Communications
ELE 580/COS 580 – Advanced Topics in Computer Engineering: Trustworthy
MAE 345 – Robotics and Intelligent Systems
ORF 350 – Analysis of Big Data
ORF 401 – Electronic Commerce
ORF 411 – Operations and Information Engineering
ORF 467 – Transportation Systems Analysis
SML 101 – Reasoning with Data
SML 201 – Introduction to Data Science
TRA 301/COS 401/LIN 304 – Introduction to Machine Translation

Technology Courses for Energy track:

CEE 207/ENV 207 Introduction to Environmental Engineering
CEE 304/ENE 304/ENV 300 Environmental Engineering and Energy
CEE 305/GEO 375/ENE 305 Environmental Fluid Mechanics
CEE 311/CHM 311/GEO 311/ENE 311 Global Air Pollution
CEE 334/WWS 452/ENV 334/ENE 334 Global Environmental Issues
CEE 477/ENE 477 Engineering Design for Sustainable Development
CEE 490/ENE 490 Mathematical Modeling of Energy and Environmental Systems
CHM 333/ENV 333/GEO 333 Oil to Ozone: Chemistry of the Environment
EGR 194 An Introduction to Engineering
EGR 251, 351, 451 Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)
ENE 202/ARC 208/ EGR 208/ENV 206 Designing Sustainable Systems
ENE 267/MSE 287/CEE 267 Materials for Energy Technologies and Efficiency
ENE 431/ELE 431/ENV 431/EGR 431 Solar Energy Conversion
ENV 302/CEE 302/EEB 302 Practical Models for Environmental Systems
FRS (Freshman Seminar) 159 Science, Technology, and Public Policy
MAE 228/EGR 228/CBE 228/ENE 228 Energy Technologies for the 21st Century
MAE 328/EGR 328/ENV 328/ENE 328 Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World
ORF 455 Energy and Commodities Markets
ORF 474 Special Topics in Operations Research and Financial Engineering 

Societal Courses. Each student is required to take two societal courses from a list that includes the courses below. An advanced/one-time-only course may be used to replace one or both of these courses with the permission of the program adviser.

Societal Courses for Information Technology track:

COS 448/EGR 448 – Innovating Across Technology, Business, & Marketplaces
COS 495/EGR 495/WWS 495 – Special Topics in Computer Science – Information Technology, Law and Policy, (one time course, spring 2014) (The title for this course number changes. Please see previous years for approved titles.)
COS 496/HLS 496/ART 496 – Special Topics in Computer Science – Modeling the Past – Digital Tech, and Excavations in Polis, Cyprus (The title for this course number changes. Please see previous years for approved titles.)
COS 586/WWS 586F* – Topics in STEP: Information Technology and Public Policy
COS 598F – Advanced Topics in Computer Science – Internet Law and Policy (one time course, spring 2015)
ECO 326 – Economics of the Internet: The Digital Revolution
FRS 122 – Connection and Communication in the Digital Bazaar
GER 517/MOD 517/ART 517/COM 519 – Modernism and Modernity – Aesthetics of Surveillance
HIS 278 – Digital, Spatial, Visual, and Oral Histories
HUM 346/ENG 349 – Introduction to Digital Humanities
JRN 400 – The Media in America – What to Read and Believe in the Digital Age
JRN 452 – Digital Journalism – Writing about Digital Culture
MSE 407 – Communicating Science and Technology in the Modern World
POL 332 – Topics in American Statesmanship – Science, Technology, and the American Way
POL 341 – Experimental Methods in Politics
POL 478/COS 478* – Politics in the Age of Digital Media (spring 2016 one time course)
PSY 214 – Human Identity in the Age of Neuroscience and Information Technology
PSY 322/ORF 322 – Human Machine Interaction
SOC 204 – Social Networks
SOC 214 – Creativity, Innovation, and Society
SOC 344 – Communications, Culture, and Society
SOC 346 – Sociology of the Cubicle: Work, Technology, and Organization
SOC 357* – Sociology of Technology (can also count as a breadth societal course)
SOC 409*/COS 409 – Critical Approaches to Human Computer Interaction
SOC 596 – Computational Social Science (half credit course)
WRI 121/122 – Technology and Culture
WRI 149/150 – Fans and Consumer Culture
WWS 351/SOC 353/COS 351 – Information Technology and Public Policy (formerly WWS 451)
WWS 402e – Cyber Security: Attacks and Consequences (one time course, spring 2015)
WWS 403(1) – The Social and Economic Effects of Current Technological Change (This title only for 403. Please notify Laura Cumminngs-Abdo, the program manager, to have this course added manually as a RSC to your records.)
WWS 357 – Cybersecurity Law, Technology and Policy
WWS 528D* – Topics in Domestic Policy Analysis – Public Management in the Age of Digital Technology, (may be one time course spring 2016)

Societal Courses for Energy track:

ANT 314 /ENE 314/AFS 314 The Anthropology of Development
AMS 364/ENV 365 Environmental and Social Crisis
CHV 321/ENV 321/WWS 371 Ethical and Scientific Issues in Environmental Policy
CHV 472/POL 472 Ethical Dilemmas in a Global Society
COS 448/EGR 448 Innovating Across Technology, Business, and Marketplaces
ENV 305 Topics in Environmental Studies
ENV 306 Topics in Environmental Studies
HIS 295 Making America: Technology and History in the United States
HIS 431/ENV 433 Comparative Environmental History
HIS 507 Environmental History
MSE 407 Communicating Science and Technology in the Modern World
SOC 357 Sociology of Technology
URB 201/WWS 201/SOC 203/ARC 207 Introduction to Urban Studies
WWS 306/ECO 329/ENV 319 Environmental Economics
WWS 350 The Environment: Science and Policy
WWS 353/MAE 353 Science & Global Security
WWS 373/CHV 373 Welfare, Economics, & Climate Change and Mitigation Policy

Breadth Course. In addition to the technology and society courses, each student is required to take one course that combines technology and society in an area outside their chosen track. For engineering/science students this should be based in the societal disciplines, and for humanities and social science students this should be based in the science/technology disciplines. Students must select either the Information Technology track or the Energy track and take the technology or societal breadth course from the respective list of courses.

Representative Technology Courses for Information Technology track:

APC 199/MAT 199 – Math Alive
ARC 374 – Computational Design
AST 309/MAE 309/PHY 309/ENE 309 – Science and Technology of Nuclear Energy: Fission aond Fusion
CBE 260/EGR 260 – Ethics and Technology: Engineering in the Real World
CEE 102B/EGR 102B/MAE 102B – Engineering in the Modern World
CHM 440 – Drug Discovery in the Genomics Era
ENE 202/ARC 208/EGR 208/ENV 206 – Designing Sustainable Systems – Applying the Science of Sustainability to Address Global Change
ENE 308/MAE 308 – Engineering the Climate: Technical & Policy Challenges
ENE 414 – Renewable Energy Systems
ENV 360* – Biotech Plants and Animals: Frankenfood or Important Innovations?
ENV 407 – Africa's Food and Conservation Challenge
MAE 228/EGR 228/CBE 228/ENE 228 – Energy Technologies for the 21st Century
MAE 244*/EGR 244 – Introduction to Biomedical Innovation and Global Health
MAE 328/EGR 328/ENV 328/ENE 328 – Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World
MAE 354 – Unmaking the Bomb: The Science & Technology of Nuclear Nonproliferation, Disarmament, and Verification
MAE 445/EGR 445 – Entrepreneurial Engineering
MOL 205 – Genes, Health, and Society
NEU 537/MOL 537/PSY 517 – Computational Neuroscience and Computing Networks
WWS 353/MAE 353 – Science and Global Security: From Nuclear Weapons to Cyberwarfare

Representative Technology Courses for Energy track:

APC 199/MAT 199 Math Alive
ARC 203 Introduction to Architectural Thinking
CBE 260/EGR 260 Ethics and Technology: Engineering in the Real World
CEE 102A,B/EGR 102A,B/MAE 102A,B Engineering in the Modern World
CEE 262B/ARC 262B/EGR 262B/URB 262B Structures and the Urban Environment
COS 109/EGR 109 Computers in Our World
COS 126/EGR 126 General Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach
EEB 211/MOL 211 Life on Earth: Chaos and Clockwork of Biological Design
PHY 115A/STC 115A or PHY 115B/STC 115B Physics for Future Leaders

Representative Societal Courses for Information Technology track:

AMS 399/HIS 399 – In the Groove: Technology and Music in American History, From Edison to the iPod
ANT 344 – Science, Technology & Culture
ANT 356 – Technologies of Communication
CBE 260/EGR 260 – Ethics and Technology: Engineering in the Real World (changed to a BSC beginning fall 2016)
CEE 102A/EGR 102A/MAE 102A – Engineering in the Modern World
CHV 331/WWS 372 – Ethics and Public Health
ECO 332 – Economics of Health and Health Care
EGR 390/CEE 390 – Innovation in Practice: Pathways and People
EGR 392 – Creativity, Innovation, and Design
EGR 482 – Innovation through Empathic Design
EGR 488 – Designing Ventures to Change the World
EGR 491/ELE 491 – High-Tech Entrepreneurship
EGR 492* – Radical Innovation in Global Markets
EGR 494 – Leadership Development for Business
EGR 495 – Special Topics in Entrepreneurship (The title for this course number changes. Please see previous semesters for approved titles.)
EGR 497 – Entrepreneurial Leadership
EGR 498/GHP 498 – Special Topics in Social Entrepreneurship – Ventures to Address Global Challenges (Fall 2015)
ENV 304/ECO 328/EEB 304/WWS 455 – Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy
ENV 316 – Climate Science and Communication
GER 211 - Introduction to Media Theory
GHP 350/WWS 380/ANT 380 – Critical Perspectives in Global Health
GHP 404 – Science, Society, and Health Policy
HIS 292 – Science in the Modern World
HIS 295 – Making America: Technology and History in the United States
HIS 391 – History of Contemporary Science
HIS 398 – Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
ITA 320/COM 378 – Cybernetics, Literary Ghosts and the Italian Way
NES 266*/ENV 266 – Oil, Energy and The Middle East
POL 341 – Experimental Methods in Politics
SOC 346* – Sociology of the Cubicle: Work, Technology, and Organization
SOC 356* – Sociology of Science (one time course, spring 2013)
SOC 357* – Sociology of Technology (can also be counted as a required societal course)
STC 349 – Science Journalism/Writing About Science (changed to be a BSC, April 2016)
WWS 354 – Modern Genetics and Public Policy

Representative Societal Courses for Energy track:

ANT 344 Science, Technology and Culture
EGR 200 Creativity, Innovation, and Design
EGR 201 Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship
EGR 491/ELE 491 High-Tech Entrepreneurship
EGR 492 Radical Innovation in Global Markets
EGR 494 Leadership Development for Business
EGR 495 Special Topics in Entrepreneurship
ENV 201A,B/STC 201A,B Fundamentals of Environmental Studies: Population, Land Use, Biodiversity, and Energy
FRE 338/COM 332/ENV 338 The Literature of Environmental Disaster
HIS 398 Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
NES 201/HIS 223 Introduction to the Middle East
POL 351/WWS 311 The Politics of Development
WWS 333/SOC 326 Law, Institutions and Public Policy
WWS 334/JRN 334 Media and Public Policy
WWS 340/PSY 321 The Psychology of Decision Making and Judgment

Annual Symposium. Students are required to present their projects/theses to the program students and faculty at an annual symposium. This provides a mechanism for shared learning as well as for developing the common themes across the program.

Independent Work

All students are required to undertake a one-term independent research project in IT or Energy and society. For A.B. students, this includes a junior paper. This may be substituted by a significant component in their senior thesis (at least a chapter). It is expected that some of these projects/theses will be jointly supervised by faculty members across the University divisions. The project/thesis component requires preapproval of the student's program adviser.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in technology and society upon graduation.