Skip over navigation

Program in Technology and Society

Director

Mung Chiang

Associate Director

Emily A. Carter (Energy)

Edward W. Felten (Information Technology)

Executive Committee

Andrew W. Appel, Computer Science

Elizabeth M. Armstrong, Woodrow Wilson School, Sociology

Emily A. Carter, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Applied and Computational Mathematics

Mung Chiang, Electrical Engineering

Angela N.H. Creager, History

Paul J. DiMaggio, Sociology, Woodrow Wilson School

Edward W. Felten, Computer Science, Woodrow Wilson School

Michael D. Gordin, History

Niraj K. Jha, Electrical Engineering

Andrea S. LaPaugh, Computer Science

Yueh-Lin Loo, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Sharad Malik, Electrical Engineering

Margaret R. Martonosi, Computer Science

Denise L. Mauzerall, Woodrow Wilson School, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Arvind Narayanan, Computer Science

Barry P. Rand, Electrical Engineering

Matthew J. Salganik, Sociology

Eldar Shafir, Psychology, Woodrow Wilson School

Sits with Committee

Derek B. Lidow, Electrical Engineering, Keller Center


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.

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:

COS 109/EGR 109 Computers in Our World
COS/EGR 126 General Computer Science (may be taken instead of COS 109)
COS 432 Information Security
COS 445 Networks, Economics and Computing
COS 597G Advanced Topics in Computer Science: Surveillance and Countermeasures
ELE 201 Introduction to 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 580/COS 580 Advanced Topics in Computer Engineering: Trustworthy Computing
MAE 345 Robotics and Intelligent Systems
MOL 455/COS 455/QCB 455 Introduction to Genomics and Computational Molecular Biology
ORF 401 Electronic Commerce
ORF 411 Operations and Information Engineering

Technology Courses for Energy track:

CBE 421/CHM 421/ENE 421 Catalytic Chemistry
CEE 304/ENE 304/ENV 300 Environmental Implications of Energy Technologies
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
CHM 333/ENV 333 Oil to Ozone: Chemistry of the Environment
EGR 194 An Introduction to Engineering
EGR 251, 351, 451 Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS)
ELE 431/MAE 431/ENV 431/EGR /ENE 431 Solar Energy Conversion
ENE 202/ ARC 208/ EGR 208/ ENV 206 Designing Sustainable Systems: Applying the Science of Sustainability to Address Global Changes
ENV 302/CEE 302/EEB 302 Advanced Analysis of Environmental Systems
Freshman Seminar: Science and Technology for a Sustainable Energy Future
GEO 366/ENV 339/WWS 451/ENE 366 Climate Change: Scientific Basis, Policy Implications
MAE 228/EGR 228/CBE 228/ENE 228 Energy Solutions for the Next Century
MAE 328/EGR 328/ENV 328/ENE 328 Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World
ORF 474 Special Topics in Operations Research and Financial Engineering Energy, Commodity, and Fixed Income Markets

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, and Markets
COS 495 Special Topics in Computer Science
COS 496 Special Topics in Computer Science
ECO 326 Economics of the Internet: The Digital Revolution
Freshman Seminar: Science, Technology and Policy
POL 332 Topics in American Statesmanship: Science, Technology and the American Way
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
SOC 409/COS 409 Critical Approaches to Human Computer Interaction
SOC 596 Computational Social Science
Writing Seminar: Fans and Consumer Culture
Writing Seminar: Technology and Culture
WWS 334/SOC 313 Media and Public Policy
WWS 351/SOC 353/COS 351 Information Technology and Public Policy
WWS 586F/COS 586 Topics in STEP Information Technology and Public Policy

Societal Courses for Energy track:

ANT 314 / ENE 314 The Anthropology of Development
ARC 406/ENV 406 Energy and Form
COS 448/EGR 448 Innovating Across Technology, Business, and Marketplaces
EEB 341/ENV 341 Water, Savannas, and Society: Global Change and Sustainability in Africa s Hallmark Ecosystem
ENV 306 Topics in Environmental Studies American Environmental History
ENV 324/EGR 324 Environmental Entrepreneurship
HIS 422/NES 422 Energy and Empire
NES 266/ENV 266 Oil, Energy and the Middle East
SOC 214 Creativity, Innovation, and Society
SOC 356 Sociology of Science
SOC 357 Sociology of Technology
URB 201/WWS 201/SOC 203 Introduction to Urban Studies
WWS 306/ECO 329/ENV 319 Environmental Economics
WWS 350 The Environment: Science and 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:

CBE 260/EGR 260 Ethics and Technology: Engineering in the Real World
CEE 262A/B/ARC 262A/B/EGR 262A/B/URB 262A/B Structures and the Urban Environment
CEE 102b/EGR 102b/MAE 102b Engineering in the Modern World
ENV 360/MOL 260 Biotech Plants and Animals: Frankenfood or Important Innovations?
MAE 228/EGR 228/CBE 228/ENE 228 Energy Solutions for the Next Century
MAE 244/EGR 224 Introduction to Biomedical Innovation and Global Health
MAE 445/EGR 445 Entrepreneurial Engineering
MOL 205 Genes, Health, and Society
NEU 259A/B/PSY 259 A/B Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
WWS 353/MAE 353 Science and Global Security: From Nuclear Weapons to Cyberwarefare

Representative Technology Courses for Energy track:

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
COS 109/EGR 109 Computers in Our World
ENV 360/MOL 260 Biotech Plants and Animals: Frankenfood or Important Innovations?
Freshman Seminar: Materials World
MAE 244/EGR 244 Introduction to Biomedical Innovation and Global Health
MOL 205 Genes, Health, and Society

Representative Societal Courses for Information Technology track:

ANT 344 Science, Technology and Culture
CEE 102A/EGR 102A/MAE 102A Engineering in the Modern World
EGR 201 Introduction to Entrepreneurship
EGR 392 Creativity, Innovation, and Design
EGR 491/ELE 491 High-Tech Entrepreneurship
EGR 492 Radical Innovation in Global Markets
EGR 495 Special Topics in Entrepreneurship
ENV 304/ ECO 328/ EEB 304/ WWS 455 Disease Ecology, Economics, and Policy
HIS 292 Science in the Modern World
HIS 391 History of Contemporary Science
HIS 398 Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
NES 266/ENV 266 Oil, Energy, and The Middle East
SOC 346 Sociology of the Cubicle: Work, Technology, and Organization
SOC 356 Sociology of Science
SOC 357 Sociology of Technology
WWS 354 Modern Genetics and Public Policy

Representative Societal Courses for Energy track:

ANT 344 Science, Technology and Culture
EGR 201 Introduction to Entrepreneurship
EGR 392 Creativity, Innovation, and Design
EGR 491/ELE 491 High-Tech Entrepreneurship
EGR 492 Radical Innovation in Global Markets
EGR 495 Special Topics in Entrepreneurship
HIS 398 Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
SOC 344 Communications, Culture, and Society
WWS 309/SOC 313 Media and Public Policy

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.