Science, Technology and Society (STS) is a required course for all engineering students at Bilkent University. As we are situated within the Faculty of Engineering, we focus on providing students with a practical understanding of the implications of STS approaches. STS focuses on a range of social, cultural and political issues through investigating specific cases, institutional practices and situational contexts. Today this is a given: technological environments will combine research, regulation, ethical standards and the market. As a result, it is beneficial for engineers to understand how meaning is inscribed into technologies and socio-technical contexts. STS efforts are concerned with addressing a wide range of questions including:
- How are emerging science and technologies shaped and developed?
- What makes facts credible? How are facts, knowledge and technologies constructed and arranged in society?
- How do technologies interact with societal, cultural and political contexts?
- Which social groups or actors are involved with specific developments as creators, investors, users, consumers, regulators, etc.?
- How do emerging technological developments compete with technologies that have similar applications?
- Are values are built into technologies or into the ways they are used?
- How do values such as “progress” shape technology?
- How are ethical and social implications of technologies recognized and addressed?
- How are risk issues assessed, managed, communicated and governed?
Over the term, students will develop an understanding of STS studies by using appropriate categories and concepts. The term projects provide students with an opportunity to examine a range of relevant stakeholder positions and consider how various interests may be considered in technological decisions. Ultimately, students will also be able to distinguish between instrumental values (e.g., economy and efficiency) and qualitative values (e.g., access, inclusion, sustainability, safety and privacy) and consider how these values may be considered at different stages in the design process.