Santa Clara University

Graduate School of Engineering

Graduate Minor in Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

Program Advisor: Dr. Aleksandar Zecevic


The graduate minor in science, technology, and society (STS) is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of the influence that engineering has on society (and vice versa). Knowledge of this kind has become essential in an increasingly complex and interconnected world, in which purely technical expertise often needs to be supplemented by additional skills. In order to successfully operate in such an environment, engineers must (at the very least) have the ability to communicate clearly, function on interdisciplinary and diverse teams, and make ethically and socially responsible decisions. The minor consists of a Core and a set of electives, and entails a minimum of 12 units of coursework. It is open to all students who are pursuing a master’s degree in engineering, regardless of the specific program in which they are enrolled.

The need to develop such skills has been widely recognized in universities around the country, as witnessed by the growing emphasis on interdisciplinary studies in undergraduate engineering curricula. It is unusual, however, to encounter programs of this kind on the graduate level. Most traditional master’s programs still focus on specialized technical topics, and offer little insight into how practicing engineers might engage global challenges such as climate change, sustainability, or economic disparity (to name just a few).

The primary purpose of the STS minor is to offer graduate students an opportunity to examine some of these key social issues on an advanced level. The scope of the minor is broad, and includes topics that range from the social impact of new technologies, to applied ethics, sustainability, and religion. As such, it reflects an educational philosophy that goes well beyond narrow specialization and promotes a global and societal orientation. All the courses in this program have a distinctly interdisciplinary flavor, and are designed to develop creativity, innovation, and leadership.


The STS minor consists of a Core and a set of electives, and entails a minimum of 12 units of coursework. The Core courses cover four distinct thematic areas:

  • Social and Philosophical Issues in Science and Engineering
  • Engineering and Ethics
  • Science and Religion
  • Sustainability and Engineering

Students will be required to take courses in at least three of the Core areas outlined above (for a minimum of 6 units). The remaining units (up to a total of 12, or more if desired) can be accumulated by taking a combination of electives and additional STS Core courses.

The courses and the different thematic areas to which they belong are listed below. Note that courses that appear in multiple areas can be used to satisfy only one Core requirement (in other words, no “double dipping” is allowed).

Social and Philosophical Issues in Science and Engineering

  • ENGR 261 Nanotechnology and Societ
  • ENGR 272 Energy Public Polic
  • ENGR 302 Managing in the Multicultural Environment
  • ENGR 303 Gender and Engineering
  • ENGR 304 Building Global Teams
  • ENGR 332 Emergent Human Systems
  • ENGR 333 Forms of Nature
  • ENGR 336 Engineering for the Developing World
  • ENGR 338 Mobile Applications for Emerging Markets
  • ENGR 341 Innovation, Design and Spiritualit
  • ENGR 342 3D Print Technology and Society

Engineering and Ethics

  • COEN 288 Software Ethics
  • ENGR 273 Sustainable Energy and Ethics
  • ENGR 310 Engineering Ethics
  • ENGR 334 Energy, Climate Change, and Social Justice
  • ENGR 335 Science, Religion, and Environmental Ethics

Science and Religion

  • ELEN 217 Chaos Theory, Metamathematics and the Limits of Knowledge: A Scientific Perspective on Religion
  • ENGR 334 Energy, Climate Change, and Social Justice
  • ENGR 335 Science, Religion, and Environmental Ethics
  • ENGR 341 Innovation, Design and Spirituality

Sustainability and Engineering

  • ENGR 271 Energy Conservation
  • ENGR 272 Energy Public Polic
  • ENGR 273 Sustainable Energy and Ethics
  • ELEN 280/MECH 287 Introduction to Alternative Energy Systems
  • ELEN 288/COEN 282 Energy Management Systems
  • ENGR 334 Energy, Climate Change, and Social Justice
  • ENGR 337 Sustainability and Green Information Technolog
  • ENGR 340 Distributed and Renewable Energy for the Developing World
  • ENGR 349 Topics in Frugal Engineering

Admission Procedures
The STS minor option is open to all master’s students in the School of Engineering. Those who wish to pursue this minor must submit an application form to the Graduate Services Office by the end of their third quarter at SCU (at the latest), and must have their program of studies approved by the academic advisor for this program (Dr. Aleksander Zecevic). Links to the application form and the program of studies form can be found at the website.

Students who complete all the technical requirements set by their department, as well as an approved set of STS classes, will receive a master’s degree with a minor in science technology and society. The degree will be conferred by the department to which the student was originally accepted. Please note that the grades obtained in STS courses will be included in the overall GPA, and will carry the same weight as grades obtained in technical classes.

here are no financial or academic penalties for not completing the minor. Such students will receive the standard master’s degree, with no reference to the STS minor.

Financial Aid for the STS Minor
Students who have declared a graduate minor in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) are eligible for a special form of financial aid. The amount of aid is limited to 75% of tuition for up to 12 units (excluding fees). These funds can be applied only to courses taken beyond the 45 units that are required for a Master’s degree.

In order to become eligible for this benefit, students must check the appropriate box that pertains to financial aid on the application form. In addition, their program of studies must be approved by the academic advisor for the program (Dr. Aleksandar Zecevic). Financial aid comes into effect once a student completes 45 units of course work, at which point he or she should follow the procedure outlined below:

  1. The quarterly tuition must be paid in full, and in the time frame specified by the Bursar’s Office.
  2. In the second week of each quarter, students must provide the program academic advisor with a list of courses in which they are currently enrolled (this will require official proof of registration).
  3. Once the academic advisor establishes that the courses conform to the approved programs of studies (both in the technical and in the STS area), students will receive financial aid in the amount of 75% of their tuition expenses for that quarter (excluding fees).
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