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Science, Technology, and Society

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Harvard Griffin GSAS offers a secondary field in science, technology, and society (STS) to candidates for the PhD, DDes, and SJD degrees.


The STS secondary field serves a wide range of student interests and career plans. For example: A sociologist or political scientist wants to investigate the impact of emerging technologies on the distribution of power in society. An engineer or public policy analyst would like to explore why innovation occurs unevenly across nations and time periods and how to encourage innovation in high-risk domains. A law student wants to know how nonwestern societies deal with intellectual property or bioethics. An anthropologist or a geneticist wishes to investigate how DNA databases affect individual rights and group identities. A historian would like to trace the evolution of nuclear secrecy policies from the postwar to the present. Through a structured program of interdisciplinary study, STS aims to satisfy these and many comparable lines of inquiry.


STS is a field dedicated to studying the institutions and practices of scientists, engineers, physicians, architects, planners, and other technical professionals, as well as the complex relationships between science, technology and society. STS employs a variety of methods from the humanities and social sciences to examine how science and technology both influence and are influenced by their social, cultural, and material contexts. A major area of interest is the role of technologies and technological systems in shaping the purposes, possibilities, and meanings of human existence, from the creation of novel biological organisms to the design of urban infrastructures and the management of global risks to health, food, security, human freedom, and the environment. For more information, please see


Interested students should first consult with a member of the Executive Committee for the STS Secondary Field, who will serve as the student’s primary advisor. In case of doubt, the student should turn to the Secondary Field director, Sheila Jasanoff. Students may then be referred to an appropriate Faculty Affiliate in their Department or School for further advice. Courses required for the Secondary Field should be selected in consultation with the student’s STS advisor. Further information is available through the Kennedy School STS Program. Contact:


Students should register for the Secondary Field with the STS Program at the Harvard Kennedy School by emailing for further information.


Course Requirements

Students will be required to take four courses (16 credits), distributed as follows:

(i) One framing course from Annex 1, Section (i). These are general courses offering an overview of STS theories and methods, as well as a broad orientation to the field. Students may take additional framing courses to satisfy requirements. **Note: Students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences may not satisfy the framing course requirement with a course offered by their home department.

(ii) One graduate level topical course from Annex 1, Section (ii). These are complementary courses that deepen students’ acquaintance with STS analytic approaches as applied to different domains of science, technology, and medicine.

(iii) Two courses of related interest from Annex 1, Section (iii-v).

A full list of STS courses may be found at

Other Requirements

In the course of their PhD studies at Harvard, students in the humanities and social sciences must present a talk in the STS Circle sponsored by the Kennedy School’s STS Program with support from Harvard Griffin GSAS. This talk should demonstrate the student’s capacity to present an original, theoretically informed analysis of a problem at the intersection of science, technology and society. Proposals to present in the STS Circle should be accompanied by a note of approval from the student’s STS advisor. For students in the natural sciences, a capstone project, developed in consultation with the student’s advisor, may take the place of the STS Circle presentation.

STS Courses for Secondary Field

(i) Framing Courses (offering foundational introduction to the field)

  • IGA-513. Science, Power and Politics (HKS, offered each fall)
  • IGA-956Y : Science, Technology, and Society: Research Seminar
  • History of Science 200, Knowing the World: An Introduction to the History of Science (FAS)

(ii) Methods Courses (deepening specialist knowledge in field)

  • African and African American Studies 178. Health, Society, and Subjectivity in the American Context (FAS)
  • African and African American Studies 189x. Medicine, Culture, and Society (FAS)
  • Anthropology 1495. The Materiality of Culture: Objects, Meaning, the Self (FAS)
  • Anthropology 1850. Ethnography and Personhood – offered alternate years  (FAS)
  • DES 0343100. A Science of the Environment (GSD)
  • Economics 2099. Topics in the History of Economic Thought (FAS)
  • Economics 2888r. Economics of Science and Engineering Workshop (FAS)
  • History 1330. Social Thought in Modern America (FAS)
  • History 1940. Science and the Global Human Past: Case Studies at the Cutting Edge: Conference Course (FAS)
  • History 2968. History and Economics (FAS)
  • History of Science 150. History of the Human Sciences (FAS)
  • History of Science 259. The History of the History of Science (FAS)
  • HT 934. Introduction to Global Medicine: Bioscience, Technologies, Disparities, Strategies (HMS)
  • IGA 515. Bioethics, Law and the Life Sciences (HKS)
  • IGA 516. Law, Science, and Society in America (HKS)
  • IGA 518. Expertise and Rulership in Law and Science (HKS)
  • Sociology 114. Organizational Failures and Disasters: Leadership in Crisis (FAS)
  • Sociology 128. Models of Social Science Research (FAS)
  • Sociology 162. Medical Sociology (FAS)
  • SW51. Politics of Nature (FAS)
  • SW25. Case Studies in Global Health: Biosocial Perspectives (FAS)

(iii) Related Courses (FAS)

  • Anthropology 1640. Language and Culture
  • Anthropology 1698. Anthropology of Death and Afterlife: Seminar Anthropology 1876 - Society, Culture, and Modernity in Greece
  • Anthropology 1882.The Woman and the Body
  • Anthropology 2704. Linguistic Pragmatics and Cultural Analysis in Anthropology
  • Anthropology 2785. Theories of Subjectivity in Current Anthropology
  • Anthropology 2805. Biopolitics.
  • Anthropology 2876. New Ethnographies in the Anthropology of Social Experience and Moral Life
  • Engineering Sciences 139. Innovation in Science and Engineering: Conference Course
  • Engineering Sciences 239. Advanced Innovation in Science and Engineering: Conference Course
  • Engineering Sciences 201. Decision Theory
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy 77. Technology, Environment and Society – offered in alternate years
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy 78. Environmental Politics – offered in alternate years
  • Government 1093. Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature
  • Government 2034. Ethics, Economics, and Law
  • Government 3000. Approaches to the Study of Politics
  • Government 3004. Research Workshop in American Politics
  • History 1318. History of the Book and of Reading
  • History 1445. Science and Religion in American Public Culture
  • History 1457. History of American Capitalism
  • History 2468hf. The Environment and the American Past: Seminar
  • History 2951. The Environmental Turn in History: Seminar
  • History of Science 135. From Darwin to Dolly: A History of the Modern Life Sciences
  • History of Science 138. Sex, Gender, and Evolution
  • History of Science 139. The Postgenomic Moment
  • History of Science 149. The History and Culture of Stigma
  • History of Science 176. Brainwashing and Modern Techniques of Mind Control
  • History of Science 198. Controversy: Explorations at the Intersection of Science, Policy, and Politics
  • History of Science 231.Transforming Technologies: Science, Technology, and Social Change
  • History of Science 237. Postgenomics
  • History of Science 248. Ethics and Judgment in the History of Science and Medicine
  • History of Science 259. History of the History of Science
  • Microbiology 213. Social Issues in Biology
  • Philosophy 149z . Philosophy of Science
  • Psychology 2450.  Affective and Social Neuroscience
  • Psychology 1509. Self and Identity
  • Psychology 1750. Free Will, Responsibility, and Law
  • Psychology 2554r. Moral Cognition: Research Seminar
  • Sociology 165. Inequalities in Health Care
  • Sociology 243. Economic Sociology
  • Sociology 236. Cultural Processes in the Production of Inequality
  • Sociology 304. Culture and Social Analysis Workshop

(iv) Related Courses (HKS and GSD)

  • API 302: Analytic Frameworks for Policy (HKS)
  • DPI 201A. The Responsibilities of Public Action (HKS)
  • DPI 562. Public Problems: Advice, Strategy and Analysis (HKS)
  • IGA 408M. Learning from the Failure of Climate Policy (HKS)
  • IGA 944. Sustainability Science: Policy Analysis and Design for Sustainable Development (HKS)
  • DES 0342800. Digital Culture: Architecture and the City (GSD)
  • DES 0343400. Architecture and Art: From Minimalism to Neuro-phenomenology (GSD)
  • DES 0345700. How to do Things with Words (GSD)
  • HIS 0435400: Imagining the City: Literature, Film, and the Arts (GSD)
  • HIS 0411500. History and Theory of Urban Interventions (GSD)
  • HIS 0443800. War, Maps + Cities (GSD)
  • SES 0521100. Cities by Design (GSD)
  • SCI 064380. What is energy and how (else) might we think about it? (GSD)

(v) Related Courses (Other Schools)

  • HBS 4420. PSY 2650. Behavioral Approaches to Decision Making and Negotiation (HBS)
  • HBS 1166. Managing International Trade and Investment (HBS)
  • HLS 1017. The Politics of Private Law in Comparative Perspective (HLS)
  • HLS 2011. The Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education and Juvenile Justice (HLS)
  • HLS 2068. Employment Discrimination (HLS)
  • HLS 2076. Ethics, Economics and the Law (HLS)
  • HLS 2079. Evidence (HLS)
  • HLS 2084. Family Law (HLS)
  • HLS 2094. Future of the Family: Adoption, Reproduction and Child Welfare (HLS)
  • HLS 2101. Global Law and Governance (HLS)
  • HLS 2107. Health Law (HLS)
  • HLS 2119. Intellectual Property Law: Advanced (HLS)
  • HLS 2141. Law and Psychology - The Emotions: Seminar (HLS)
  • HLS 2145. Law and Economic Development (HLS)
  • HLS 2240. Theory and Practice of Social Change (HLS)
  • HLS 2279. Critical Race Theory (HLS)
  • HLS 2319. Theories About Law (HLS)
  • HLS 2389. Legal Thought Now: Law and the Structure of Society (HLS)
  • HLS 2402. Copyright (HLS)
  • HLS 2506. The Genealogy of Continental Philosophy and Law (HLS)
  • HLS 2540. Reproductive Rights and Justice (HLS)
  • HLS 2545. Rethinking the Legal and Ethical Status of Humans, Animals, and the Environment (HLS)
  • HLS 2549. Critical Legal Studies: A Retrospective (HLS)
  • HLS 2575. Law of Research with Humans and Animals (HLS)
  • HLS 2607. Genetics and the Law (HLS)
  • HLS 2617. Constitutional and Health Law: Reproductive Rights (HLS)
  • HLS 2620. Foundations of Justice (HLS)
  • GHP 293-01. Individual & Social Responsibility for Health (HSPH)
  • HPM 213. Public Health Law (HSPH)
  • ID 250. Ethical Basis of Public Health (HSPH)
  • SBS 506. Disease Distribution Theory (HSPH)
  • SM715: Seminar in Global Health Equity (HMS)

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