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Integration of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Courses into the Engineering Curriculum

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

STS Perspectives on Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.821.1 - 25.821.14



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Paper Authors


Wesley Marshall P.E. University of Colorado, Denver

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Wesley Marshall is an Assistant Professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Co-director of the Active Communities Transportation (ACT) research group. He focuses on transportation research dedicated to building a more sustainable infrastructure, particularly in terms of improving road safety, active transportation, and transit-oriented communities. Other recent research topics involve transportation planning, congestion pricing, human behaviors, parking, and street networks. A native of Watertown, Mass., Marshall is a recipient of the Dwight Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship and winner of the Charley V. Wootan Award for Outstanding TRB Paper.

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Michael Tang University of Colorado, Denver


Stephan A. Durham University of Colorado, Denver

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Dr. Stephan A. Durham is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering in the area of Civil Engineering at the University of Georgia. Dr. Durham teaches and performs research in the area of civil engineering materials, concrete materials and structures, and sustainability. Dr. Durham obtained his BS, MS, and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Arkansas. He was an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver prior to joining the University of Georgia in 2012.

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Integration of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Courses into the Engineering CurriculumThe Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires core classes in thehumanities and social sciences for accredited engineering programs. A unique set of courseofferings at the University of Colorado Denver help address these requirements by addressingrace, gender, and cultural differences in the context of societal change, contemporary issues, andtechnology. Professional engineers are responsible for the design of safe and reliableinfrastructure, public health and safety, and the environment. As a result, it is critical thatengineering graduates understand the impacts technology has on individuals, society, and theenvironment. This paper discusses two Science, Technology, and Society (STS) courses in thearea of cultural diversity and international perspectives. STS describes how social, political, andcultural values affect scientific research and technological innovations and in turn how theseissues impact society, politics and culture in different ways. Issues related to the ever-increasinginfluence of science and technology on all aspects of culture and society, and vice versa, havebecome essential elements of the undergraduate education. The courses discussed in this paper have allowed students to critically and systematicallyanalyze complex technical and human interactions through a looking glass that uniquely focuseson technological and scientific context that have become global in nature. ENGR 3400 -Science, Technology and Culture, is offered as an interdisciplinary course that integrates thehistory, sociology, and philosophy of science and technology. The course was developed todirect student focus and inquiry into timely issues including how diversity, science andtechnology interrelate, how gender, science and technology interrelate, and how science,technology and creativity interrelate. In order to improve understanding of the culturaldimensions of science and technology, the course focuses on multicultural diversity, whichsatisfies a core curriculum requirement as well as the ethics requirement for many engineeringmajors. Another course, ENGR 3600 - International Dimensions of Science, Technology andCulture, directs students to identify issues relating to how science, technology, and internationalissues interrelate in a world that has become more interconnected and interdependent. Thismulticultural course seeks to explore technical, organizational, and cultural aspects oftechnologies, emphasizing impacts on third-world countries. In addition, the course directsstudents to think critically about the impact of these technologies on society, and the future, on aglobal scale. For example, students begin to comprehend and understand the history and theoriesof technology practice, analysis and application of these theories to better identify the impact ofinternational science and technology on different countries and groups such as women andenvironmental groups. Students explore technology itself as it relates to globalization, theinternational aspect of the Internet, informational technologies, world politics and culture, andalternate paradigms. It is argued that these two STS courses are making a considerable impacton engineering graduate’s understanding of the inter-relationship between the engineeringprofession and society.

Marshall, W., & Tang, M., & Durham, S. A. (2012, June), Integration of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Courses into the Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21578

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