STS is an interdisciplinary field that investigates topics relating to the scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical (STEM) disciplines, including medical science. STS research uses historical, philosophical, and social scientific methods to investigate STEM theory and practice with regards to history and socio-cultural formation, philosophical underpinnings, and impacts of science and technology on quality of life, culture, and society. STS researchers strive to understand how STEM fields contribute to the development and use of systems of knowledge, the production and use of materials and devices, the co-evolution of socio-technical systems and their governance, and the place of science and technology in the modern world.
STS research focuses on the intellectual, material, and social facets of STEM. Such research endeavors to understand how scientific knowledge is produced and sanctioned, and how it is challenged and changes. It explores broader societal ramifications and underlying presuppositions. STS research studies how materials, devices, and techniques are designed and developed; how and by whom they are diffused, used, adapted, and rejected; how they are affected by social and cultural environments; and how they influence quality of life, culture, and society. STS research explores how socio-cultural values are embedded in science and technology, and how issues of governance and equity co-evolve with the development and use of scientific knowledge and technological artifacts.
STS researchers make use of methods from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, communication studies, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology. STS research includes interdisciplinary studies of ethics, equity, governance, and policy issues. STS studies may be empirical or conceptual.
The STS program supports proposals across the broad spectrum of STS research areas, topics, and approaches. Examples include, but are by no means limited to:
- Societal aspects of emerging high-tech technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, synthetic biology, neuroscience, robotics, drones, ubiquitous computing, crowdsourcing, remote-sensing)
- Societal aspects of emerging low-tech technologies (e.g., paper microscopes; whirlwind wheel chairs)
- Issues relating to equity, ethics, governance, sustainability, public engagement, user-centeredness, and inclusiveness.
- Integration of traditional STS approaches with innovative perspectives from the arts or humanities.
- Ethical, policy, and cultural issues regarding big data, surveillance and privacy in an increasingly networked world, and
- The science of broadening participation in STEM disciplines.
Effective STS proposals will clearly present the research questions, describe and explain the suitability of the methods to be used to address those questions, and provide a detailed work plan with a timeline that demonstrates adequate resources and access to any required data. If the plan involves research at archives, working in specific labs, or engaging with pertinent community groups, it is important to provide evidence of access and to indicate the specific questions to be asked or addressed. If the plan involves surveys, the proposal should discuss sample selection and survey design and content. Similar advice pertains for other modes of STS research involving focus groups, ethnographies, modeling, conceptual analysis, and so forth. Effective proposals suitably situate the proposed project in pertinent STS literatures, issues, and conceptual or theoretical frameworks, and articulate how the results of the proposed project would serve to advance STS, or subfields thereof.
Modes of support: Standard Research Grants and Grants for Collaborative Research; Scholars Awards; Postdoctoral Fellowship; Conferences and Workshops.