HASS & CI-H Subjects

All STS undergraduate subjects have a HASS designation — either H (Humanities), A (Arts), S (Social Sciences) or E (Elective). Please refer to the MIT Subject Listing and Schedule to find each subject’s HASS designation, description, instructor, schedule and locations.

STS offers the following 12 CI-H subjects:

STS.002: Finance and Society

Examines finance as a social technology intended to improve economic opportunity by moving capital to where it is most needed. Surveys the history of modern finance, from medieval Italy to the Great Depression, while addressing credit, finance and state (and imperial) power, global financial interconnection, and financial crises. Explores modern finance (since about 1950) from a variety of historical and social-scientific perspectives, covering quant finance, financialization, the crisis of 2007-2008, and finance in the digital age.

STS.003: Ancient Greeks to Modern Geeks; A History of Science

Covers the development of major fields in the physical and life sciences, from 18th-century Europe through 20th-century America. Examines ideas, institutions, and the social settings of the sciences, with emphasis on how cultural contexts influence scientific concepts and practices.

STS.006J: Bioethics

This course does not seek to provide answers to ethical questions. Instead, the course hopes to teach students two things. First, how do you recognize ethical or moral problems in science and medicine? When something does not feel right (whether cloning, or failing to clone) – – what exactly is the nature of the discomfort? What kind of tensions and conflicts exist within biomedicine? Second, how can you think productively about ethical and moral problems? What processes create them? Why do people disagree about them? How can an understanding of philosophy or history help resolve them? By the end of the course students will hopefully have sophisticated and nuanced ideas about problems in bioethics, even if they do not have comfortable answers.

STS.008: Technology and Experience

Introduction to the “inner history” of technology: how it affects intimate aspects of human experience from sociological, psychological and anthropological perspectives. Topics include how the internet transforms our experience of time, space, privacy, and social engagement; how entertainment media affects attention, emotion, and creativity; how medical technologies alter the experience of illness, reproduction, and mortality; how pharmaceuticals reshape identity, mood, pain, and pleasure. In-class discussion of readings, short written assignments, final project.

STS.009: Evolution and Society

Provides a broad conceptual and historical introduction to scientific theories of evolution and their place in the wider culture. Embraces historical, scientific and anthropological/cultural perspectives grounded in relevant developments in the biological sciences since 1800 that are largely responsible for the development of the modern theory of evolution by natural selection. Students read key texts, analyze key debates (e.g. Darwinian debates in the 19th century, and the creation controversies in the 20th century) and give class presentations.

STS.031J: Environment and History

Focusing on the period from 1500 to the present, explores the influence of climate, topography, plants, animals, and microorganisms on human history and the reciprocal influence of people on the environment. Topics include the European encounter with the Americas, the impact of modern technology, and the current environmental crisis. Enrollment limited.

STS.034: Science Communication: A Practical Guide

Develops students’ abilities to communicate science effectively in a variety of real-world contexts. Covers strategies for dealing with complex areas like theoretical physics, genomics and neuroscience, and addresses challenges in communicating about topics such as climate change and evolution. Projects focus on speaking and writing, being an expert witness, preparing briefings for policy-makers, writing blogs, giving live interviews for broadcast, and creating a prospectus for a science exhibit in the MIT Museum. Enrollment limited.

STS.040: A Global History of Commodities

Inspires students to think about production chains in ways that reflect their impact on the environment, labor practices, and human health. Examines how commodities connect distant places through a chain of relationships, and link people, e.g., enslaved African producers with middle-class American consumers, and Asian factory workers with Europeans taking a holiday on the beach. Studies how mass production and mass demand for commodities, such as real estate, bananas, rubber, corn, and beef, in the 20th century changed the way people worked, lived, and saw themselves as they adopted new technologies to produce and consume in radically different ways from their parents and grandparents. Assignments include creation of a board game for buying and selling real estate in Boston, a two-minute mini-documentary, and an article on a commodity and country. Limited to 25.

STS.049: The Long War Against Cancer

Examines anticancer efforts as a critical area for the formation of contemporary biomedical explanations for health and disease. Begins with the premise that the most significant implications of these efforts extend far beyond the success or failure of individual cancer therapies. Considers developments in the epidemiology, therapy, and politics of cancer. Uses the history of cancer to connect the history of biology and medicine to larger social and cultural developments, including those in bioethics, race, gender, activism, markets, and governance.

STS.055: Living Dangerously: Environmental Problems from 1900 to Today

Historical overview of the interactions between people and their environments in the past 100 years. Focuses on the accelerating human impact on Earth, starting in the late 19th century and continuing to the present day. Covers case studies showing how people have become aware of their impacts on the environment, and, in turn, the environment’s impacts upon human society and what humans have done to mitigate damages. Topics include: food safety and security, industrial agriculture, pesticides, nuclear energy and warfare, lead, smog, ozone depletion, and climate change.

STS.064J: DV Lab: Documenting Science through Video and New Media

Uses documentary video making as a tool to explore everyday social worlds (including those of science and engineering), and for thinking analytically about media itself. Students make videos and engage in critical analysis. Provides students with instruction on how to communicate effectively and creatively in a visual medium, and how to articulate their own analyses of documentary images in writing and spoken word. Readings drawn from documentary film theory, anthropology, and social studies of science. Students view a wide variety of classic documentaries and explore different styles. Lab component devoted to digital video production. Includes a final video project. Limited to 12.

STS.082J: Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Analysis of issues at the intersection of science, technology, public policy, and business. Cases drawn from antitrust and intellectual property rights; health and environmental policy; defense procurement and strategy; strategic trade and industrial policy; and R&D funding. Structured around theories of political economy, modified to take account of integration of uncertain technical information into public and private decision-making. Enrollment limited to 18.