The Designated Emphasis (DE) in Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a program of training in the social studies of science, technology, and medicine for Berkeley PhD students from any home department. Students who are accepted into the program, and who complete its requirements, will be in a strong position to excel within STS-related fields.

Students in this program will receive a rigorous grounding in the studies of knowledge production and technological change. The program will also facilitate a deeper involvement with the lively interdisciplinary research community at U.C. Berkeley dedicated to understanding the dynamic relations among science, technology, and social and political formations.

Upon completion of all requirements and the dissertation, your transcript and diploma will read “PhD in [Home Department] with Designated Emphasis in STS.”

Requirements, application deadlines and downloads can be found on the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society STS page.

What is STS?

Science & Technology Studies has the capacity to forge new thinking and new collaborations at the intersection of the sciences and society. 

As a multidisciplinary field with a signature capacity to rethink the relationship among science, technology, and political and social life, Science and Technology Studies is particularly well placed to address the critical problems of the 21st century. From global climate change to the reanimation of race through genomics, from political movements galvanized through new media, to efforts to improve access to medicines for the world’s poor, the pressing problems of our time are simultaneously scientific and social, technological and political, ethical and economic.

Given the complex nature of our world, entrenched disciplinary divides have become increasingly untenable as the basis for research, and for the training of scholars and social actors. Science and Technology Studies is drawing the interest of ever-increasing numbers of students and faculty because of its unique ability to help us understand the complexity of contemporary and historical problems, and because it can help us craft intellectual projects and modes of engagement that reflect this complexity more fully. Several generations of innovative work in the philosophy, history, rhetoric, and social studies of science and technology have generated influential languages, platforms, and methods for understanding the interplay between science, technology, and social-political formations – domains that are too often treated separately. This virtue is being recognized and reflected in the growing interest in the field: Science and Technology Studies is one of the fastest growing areas in the social sciences and humanities, nationwide and internationally.

Disciplinary lines and research landscapes are starting to shift in directions anticipated by Science and Technology Studies. National directives now encourage the participation of social scientists in engineering research; medical schools increasingly require applicants to train in the humanities; and emerging fields such as ‘green chemistry’ demand heterodox approaches to thinking about environmental and social parameters, the properties of chemical substances, and shifting industrial horizons. Meanwhile, cutting-edge work in the humanities and social sciences has made science and technology central to the humanistic project, examining for example, the past and future of the book, historical and contemporary foundations of race and racial identity, or ethical debates over biomedicine and the boundaries of the body. Indeed, the humanities and social sciences are recognized as key fields from which crucial questions about science and technology emerge, helping us understand when and why particular research programs become dominant, attending to the effects and implications of new technologies and knowledges, and placing ethical and social inquiries at the center of scientific enterprises. Science and Technology Studies organizes and galvanizes precisely these kinds inquiries and approaches.

Requirements, application deadlines and downloads can be found on the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society STS page.

Banner image courtesy of Donna Cleveland