Teaching STS

S21: Engineering education and STS: courses and teaching/learning units on the social and ecological responsibility of engineers

BAIER, André (TU Berlin), Germany

A predominant belief in technological progress is held up through technologists as well as a society wishing for easy technological solutions for complex ecological and social problems. This leads to a strong demand for and supply of technological innovations as a remedy for ecological destruction and as a pathway to promote social justice. Therefore a critical transformation towards a democratisation of technology, society and the economy is needed. Consequently, the predominant belief in technological progress is held up through technicians as well as a society wishing for easy technological solutions for complex ecological and social problems. Therefore, engineering students are expected acquire the competence to unveil the complex interdependency of their social, political, ecological and economic surroundings. This includes the consideration of different values, interests and needs within a global perspective as well as within one class(room).

Taking this into account, we invite those engaged within engineering education to present course designs as well as teaching/learning units, case studies, station learning etc. which promote socially and ecologically responsible engineering through a variety of alternative, interactive methods. Concepts which showcase the democratisation of teaching and learning are especially welcome, for example student-driven course designs, the implementation of pedagogies of democracy and the democratic design of technology.

The session contributors are expected to conduct a (shortened) interactive teaching/learning unit of about 10 minutes length to the participants, followed by a brief 5 minute description of the context in which the units are used in. Due to this approach, the participants engage in the teaching/learning units which will ensure a hands-on feeling as well as to encourage the participants to implement the units within one’s own context. Overall, this session aims to exchange practice examples and invites contributors to make their teaching material available to others who teach STS within an engineering education. 

The abstracts for this session should address the following questions

- What is the context of the course design or the teaching/learning units?

- What topics are addressed and how are they addressed through which methods?

- How are the course design/teaching units made publicly available?

- Are they engineering education specific or could they also be implemented in other contexts?

- Have they been implemented in other contexts? What were the experiences herby?

- What are the key aspects with regard to content and methods of the interactive teaching/learning unit which will be conducted during the session?

KEYWORDS: responsibility, student-driven, democratization, shift from teaching to learning, engineering education

S22: Engaging with the diversity of pedagogical experiences beyond the analysis of controversies

LI VIGNI, Fabrizio (IFRIS-GSPR), NOEL, Marianne (IFRIS-LISIS), OTTOLINI, Lucile (IFRIS-LISIS), RAIMBAULT, Benjamin (IFRIS-Cermes3), France

Since the 1980s, the field of STS has described and analyzed sciences and techniques starting from material practices. Despite the richness of this work, teaching “science in the making” (Latour, 1990) has at least two pitfalls:

  • The difficulty of presenting new perspectives, methods and vocabulary on science and knowledge production in short periods of time (considering this teaching happens in addition to others);
  • The “resistances” and tensions encountered with STS (and social sciences more generally) in epistemic, axiological and professional terms, especially among audiences from the experimental and engineering sciences.

Historically, one of the solutions that has been experimented to overcome these constraints has been to put the practices of STS themselves at the center of the teaching. During the 1980s, Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and Madeleine Akrich implemented seminars on the analysis of sociotechnical controversies. Seminal works on Actor-Network Theory were thus elaborated and “tested” along with engineering students at the Ecole des Mines in Paris, who have begun to map socio-technical controversies. Instead of focusing on teaching a fixed body of literature, this method privileges the transmission of a way of apprehending the fabrication of technosciences. The pedagogical exercise is proved successful[1] in France and is spread overseas by several academic institutions and even universities (Sismondo 2009, Meyer, 2015). The growing interest of different audiences for technoscientific issues increased the movement.

This session seeks to extend the teaching of STS beyond the analysis of technoscientific controversies and invites paper submissions focusing on practices with a particular attention to one of the two following dimensions:    

On the one hand, the diversity of STS courses implementation will be questioned. The range of STS course programs listed on the 4S website illustrates the postures and topics covered[2]. Thus, it will be possible to explore different pedagogical practices: organization of ethnographic or participatory observation sessions, analysis of digital corpuses, follow up of the trajectory(ies) of object(s) etc. We are interested in experiments conducted at the undergraduate level as well as at the high school level;

  • On the other hand, the diversity of pedagogical experiences in non-academic spaces such as social and community centers, hospitals, art and cultural centers, etc will be questioned. We will investigate pedagogical practices designed to show and experience the science in the making, such as toxic tours, simulations of international negotiations including non-humans, consensus conferences, lunch designs (Farias & Criado, 2016), etc.

We encourage submissions of STS educational syllabi and best practices experiences dealing with the questions listed above. Proposals deeply rooted in empirical studies and teaching experiments are also accepted.

KEYWORDS: STS in practices, experimental pedagogical experiences, beyond controversies

[2] http://www.4sonline.org/resources/syllabi


S23: Teaching STS: a call for workshop participation

WIESER, Bernhard (TU Graz), Austria

Today, the social study of science and technology is a well-established field. Many universities offer respective master and PhD programmes. Qualifying a new generation of scholars, these programmes contribute to reproducing the STS community. In addition to this, STS is taught in study programmes of other disciplines, ranging from engineering and economics to history and philosophy. STS also has a place in feminist epistemology, sustainability studies and many other fields. With its over-all goal to provide a better understanding of scientific practices and socio-technical change, STS seeks to aid the shaping of science and technology. Along these lines, teaching STS can be framed as a mode of intervention. Especially, STS courses seek to make science and engineering education more reflexive. Foregrounding the relevance of social actors beyond those in academia and industry, STS courses introduce students to the ways in which citizens and stakeholders engage and participate in the shaping of science and technology. To a large extent STS shares its teaching agenda with technology assessment (TA) and the more recently promoted efforts towards responsible research and innovation (RRI).

This conference session on Teaching STS will use an interactive workshop format to facilitate the exchange of ideas, experiences and concerns regarding teaching STS. The workshop will focus on three themes:

Building the knowledge basis: what are the key theories students need to know – in both STS and other study programmes such as engineering? Which texts are especially suitable for teaching? Teaching material needs to be topical and address contemporary socio-technical challenges. Especially when taught in other study programmes, STS content needs to be discipline-specific.
Reviewing the classics: many of the classical STS publications were written during the 1980s and 1990s. There are good reasons why they are still used for teaching. They raise key questions and lay the foundation for more detailed research in its wake. Texts published more recently are often unintelligible without knowledge of these earlier works. Yet, some of the classical texts are outdated, flawed and contested. Teaching STS classics needs to be knowledgeable of its shortcomings and critical reviews.
Strategies of integration: study programmes in their own right are crucial for the sustained existence of STS as a discipline. International collaboration and local specialisation strengthen the field on a whole. Integration in other study programmes – especially engineering – is another strategy to make STS effective. Arguably, compulsory courses cover more students. Elective modules, however, may achieve more amongst students who are open to the social study of science and technology.
With this call, we invite colleagues in the field to contribute to this workshop on teaching STS. Your participation requires the submission of a short abstract in which we ask you to specify the way in which you intend to contribute to the workshop. This can range from sharing course syllabus, readings and teaching material to reviews of classical texts or recent publications suitable for teaching. Inputs on implementation strategies of STS teaching are equally welcome. In order to enhance the further planning of the workshop, we ask you to specify to which one of the three aforementioned themes you wish to contribute. The objective of this workshop on Teaching STS is to reflect on current teaching experiences, exchange ideas and share resources. Networking and activities beyond the conference are welcome and will be discussed at the end of the workshop.

KEYWORDS: teaching, STS

S24: Meaningful science and technology education for kids

HOFSTÄTTER, Birgit (IAT), JAHRBACHER, Michaela (TU Graz/IFZ), THALER, Anita (IFZ), Austria

Science and technology education often is discussed in the context of skills shortage. However, there is more to it than meeting economic needs. It is an issue of democracy as science and technology are key actors in shaping society. Science and technology education that contributes to the democratisation of technological development and research therefore requires a vision of inclusive cooperation and an inclusive didactical approach. We imagine a science and technology education that is meaningful to learners. It ties in with learners’ everyday experience and interests. It respects and caters to individual needs.

For this session we welcome paper presentations about didactical concepts, as well as projects and experience with young learners (children to young adults) that support this vision and ideally comprise more than one of the following aspects:

  • gender-inclusive/diversity-sensitive teaching,
  • participatory/action research,
  • transdisciplinary projects,
  • pedagogical ethnography approaches

We welcome contributions of any technology/science subject and encourage applicants to reflect on teaching methods (didactics) suitable to engage young learners in meaningful science and technology education.

KEYWORDS:  technology education, participation, transdisciplinarity, inclusion, gender, diversity, pedagogical ethnography