Governing Science, Technology and Society in the 21st Century - SO938

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 20 (10)
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 20 (10) DR Y Zhang







The course aims to develop an empirically grounded and theoretically engaged understanding of key debates in the contemporary governance of science and technology. It is interdisciplinary, bringing together perspectives from across the social sciences, science & engineering and the humanities to explore the social, political, economic and ethical implications of scientific progress. It takes on a global perspective and identifies key actors and processes in the normalization of scientific practice. Indicative topics include:

  • From sociobiology to biosociality: Introduction to the social studies of science
  • The captain and the steward: Changing relations of scientific and political authorities
  • Global harmonization of national policies: Examples from life sciences and climate sciences
  • Institutionalization of knowledge and non-knowing
  • Bio-terror versus bio-error: Biosecurity after synthetic biology
  • Bioethics and the domestication of technology
  • The political economy of biopower
  • ‘Communities of fate’: governmentality and biological citizenship
  • Better-off when handicapped? Boundaries and fairness in human enhancement
  • The art of representing science: The role of art and new media in scientific outreach
  • The cosmopolitanization of science: Dependence and interdependence of world innovation
  • Details

    This module appears in:

    Contact hours

    The module will be composed of 11 lecture hours and 11 seminar hours.



    Method of assessment

    Assessment consists of a 10 minute seminar presentation (worth 20% of the grade), and one 4,000 word essay (worth 80% of the grade).

    Preliminary reading

    Essential Texts on the Social Studies of Science

    Bauchspies, W. K. (2006) Science, Technology, and Society: A Sociological Approach, Malden, MA : Blackwell
    Biagioli, M. (1999) The Science Studies Reader, New York: Routledge.
    Bihker, W.E. and Law, J. (1992) Shaping Technology: Building Society Studies in Sociotechnical Change, Cambridge, Mass ; London: MIT Press
    David, M. (2005) Science in Society, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
    Franklin, S. (2013) Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship, Durham, NC: Duke University Press
    Johnson, D. and Wetmore, J. (2008) Technology and Society: Building Our Sociotechnical Future, Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press
    Kuhn, T.S. (1996) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago, Ill. and London: University of Chicago Press
    Latour, B (1988) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge, Mass and London: Harvard University Press
    Mackenzie, D.A. and Wajcman, J. (1999) The Social Shaping of Technology, Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press
    Matthewman, S. (2011) Technology & Social Theory, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
    Massimiano B. (2004) Science in Society: An Introduction to Social Studies of Science, London: Rutledge
    Rupert, H.A. (1994) Science and Society: Historical Essays on the Relations of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Aldershot ; Brookfield, Vt.: Variorum
    Webster, A. (1991) Science, Technology, and Society: New Directions, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
    Wyer, M. et al (eds) (2009) Women, Science, and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies (2nd edition), New York: Routledge

    Key Monographs/Collections on Scientific Governance

    Adger, W.N. and Jordan, A. (2009) Governing Sustainability, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
    Bunton, R. and Petersen, A. (2005) Genetic Governance Health, Risk and Ethics in a Biotech Era, London: Routledge
    Delanghe, H.; Muldur, U. and Soete, L. (eds) (2011) European Science and Technology Policy: Towards Integration or Fragmentation, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd
    Drori G.S., Meyer J.W., Ramirez F.O. and Schofer E. (2003), Science in the Modern World Polity: Institutionalization and Globalization, Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press.
    Flynn, J.; Slovic, P; Kunreuther, H. (2001) Risk, Media and Stigma: Understanding Public Challenges to Modern Science and Technology, London and Sterling, VA : Earthscan
    Fuller, S. (2000) The Governance of Science: Ideology and the Future of the Open Society, Buckingham ; Philadelphia : Open University Press
    Guston, D. H. and Sarewitz, D. (eds) (2006) Shaping Science and Technology Policy: The Next Generation of Research, Madison, Wisconsin and London: University of Wisconsin Press
    Jackson, E. (2001) Regulating Reproduction: Law, Technology and Autonomy, Oxford: Hart
    Jasanoff, S. (2007) Designs on Nature: Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
    Latour, B. (2004) Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy, Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press
    McTeer, M.A. (2003) Law, Science and Public Policy: Science's Needs and Society's Rights, London : Canadian High Commission
    Salter, B. (2004) The New Politics of Medicine, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
    Saulnier, J. B. and Varella, M. D. (2013) Global Change, Energy Issues and Regulation Policies, London: Springer, London: Springer
    Roger, B. and Yeung, K. (2008) Regulating Technologies: Legal Futures, Regulatory Frames and Technological Fixes, Oxford: Hart
    Rose, N. (2007) The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century, Princeton, NJ ; Oxford : Princeton University Press
    Rosen, J. and Wittes B. (2013) Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, Brookings Institution


    Atkinson, P.; Glasner, P,E, and Lock, M (eds) (2009) Handbook of Genetics and Society: Mapping the New Genomi

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

    Learning outcomes

    Specific learning outcomes

    1. Be familiar with the historical context of contemporary social ambivalence toward emerging science and technologies.
    2. Understand the key debates and main actors in shaping scientific practice.
    3. Be able to take on an interdisciplinary approach in assessing the impact of science, and assess the value of the range of research methods
    4. Be able to apply key theories of science and technology studies (STS) to the analysis of contemporary issues and critically evaluate the effectiveness of different forms of scientific governance.
    5. Understand both the limit and strength of social sciences and natural sciences.

    Generic learning outcomes
    At the end of this module successful students will acquire:
    1. The ability to communicate ideas to both academic and general audiences in written and oral media.
    2. Skills of critical thinking and evaluation, particularly on competing interpretations of scientific risks.
    3. Be able to synthesise and evaluate knowledge from different disciplines and schools of thoughts.

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