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Designated Emphasis in STS

The Designated Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies offers graduate students in affiliated PhD programs the opportunity to expand their studies with a specialization in the methods and theoretical approaches of STS.

Doctoral students in the STS Designated Emphasis (DE) engage in a sustained analysis of the relationships among science, technology, and society. Students explore the social dimensions of science and technology, focusing on the ways that science and technology impact our lives and shape societies around the world.

The curriculum of the STS DE is flexible, affording coursework across the humanities and social sciences. Students can choose classes that will widen their academic knowledge and improve their research skills, giving them the tools to be successful interdisciplinary scholars. DE students also benefit from the thriving community of STS scholars on campus, a regular STS speaker series, and a range of STS events including the annual Summer Retreat, which draws faculty and grad participants from across the ten UC campuses.

Any PhD student in good standing from an affiliated program is eligible to apply to the Designated Emphasis and enroll in its courses. Those students whose topic of research includes a focus on the complex interactions among science, technology, and society will greatly benefit from the program. Students who complete the DE requirements will receive a transcript notation, and upon graduation their diploma will indicate a PhD with Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies.

Affiliated Programs and Faculty

 Affiliated PhD Programs

Anthropology, Cultural Studies, English, Geography, History, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Sociology

Core and Affiliated Faculty

Admissions and Requirements

Admissions Criteria

PhD candidates in any affiliated department or program are eligible for admission. The candidate should apply to the Chair of the DE in STS, Prof. Colin Milburn (), by filling out the online "Intent to Declare" form for the DE in STS. Applications will be reviewed and selections made by the DE executive committee.


Students are required to complete four courses relevant to the Designated Emphasis. These include 1) STS 200 “Science and Technology Studies,” 2) three other courses in STS (e.g. STS 205, STS 210, STS 250, etc.) or courses in affiliated departments that include a substantive STS approach (with only one of these from the student’s PhD program).

Required Course:

  • Science and Technology Studies 200: “Theories and Methods in Science and Technology Studies” (4)


Elective Courses:

  • Science and Technology Studies 205: "Contemporary Issues in Science and Technology Studies" (4)
  • Science and Technology Studies 210: "Digital Technologies: History and Theory" (4)
  • Science and Technology Studies 250: “History and Philosophy of Science” (4)
  • History 201S: "Sources and General Literature of History: History of Science and Medicine" (4)
  • Philosophy 208: “Philosophy of Biology” (4)
  • Philosophy 210: “Philosophy of Science” (4)
  • Philosophy 220: “Environmental Ethics” (4)


Some graduate courses offered in affiliated departments have topics that change each year, and these courses may also count for the DE elective if they include a substantive STS approach. These courses will be individually approved by the DE Committee.


Qualifying Examination Requirements:

It is expected that the qualifying exam will include subject matter related to the DE. The Dissertation committee will include at least one DE faculty member who will participate in the examination. Satisfactory performance on the Qualifying Examination for the Ph.D will be judged independently from the performance on the DE.

Dissertation Requirements:

It is expected that the student’s dissertation should contain original research on material connected with Science and Technology Studies. The Dissertation committee will include at least one DE faculty member.

Current Graduate Courses

The list below is currently being updated. For more information about current courses, please contact Prof. Colin Milburn ().

Fall 2017


STS 200: Theories and Methods in Science and Technology Studies
Instructor: Professor Colin Milburn
This graduate seminar focuses on theories and methods in science and technology studies (STS). Students will be introduced to major authors, works, and movements that have shaped the interdisciplinary field of STS, attending to intersections of the history and philosophy of science, the anthropology and sociology of science, and literary and cultural studies of science. Students will gain a strong foundation in a variety of STS approaches and concepts: constructivism; sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK); actor-network theory; gender studies of science; rhetoric and semiotics of scientific writing; scientific trading zones; experimental systems; and others. The seminar is designed for graduate students interested in adding STS methods to their scholarly toolkits. 


Winter 2018


ENL 264: Queer Biospheres
Instructor: Kathleen Frederickson
This course will examine theory, literature, and history that tackles the interface between thinking about queer kinship, sex acts, and affect in relation to the biological theories of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The course will discuss how queer sexualities have been coproduced with changes to thinking, especially, in the overlapping fields of ecology and evolution, population-based political economy, epidemiology, and botany—biosciences that focus less on individual organisms and more on systems of interconnection and population-level thinking.


PHI 220: Environmental Ethics
Instructor: Roberta Millstein M 3:10 PM - 6:00 PM, Social Science & Humanities 2275
Intensive treatment of topics in environmental ethics, such as biodiversity, sustainability, composition of the moral community, invasive species, endangered species, applications of ethical theories to contemporary environmental issues.


WMS 201: Feminist Science and Democracy
Instructor: Sara Giordano
In this feminist science studies class we will ask: How as feminists do we makes sense of this current political moment and how can we engage in science – or should we? Feminists have had a fraught relationship with science. A recurring set of questions circulate in feminist science studies literature over the last four decades: Should feminists engage in science and if so, how? And, what would a feminist science look like? In this course, we will delve into current feminist science studies literature with a particular focus on questions of creating more democratic science. We will examine activist science, as well as, mainstream community science projects to examine the role of discourses of democracy, identity politics, and coalitional politics have on knowledge production. We will aim to put into practice what we are reading through a hands-on scientific project based in social justice principles.


Spring 2018


STS 250: Digital Technologies: History and Theory
Instructor: Gerardo Con Diaz


STS 250: Technogenesis
Instructor: Tim Lenoir


ANT 210: Speculative Research
Instructor: Marisol de la Cadena
W 4:10 PM - 7:00 PM, Young Hall 224