STS Special Topics Courses

Fall 2024
Each semester The STS Department offers a number of Special Topics courses which satisfy various Restricted Technical Elective categories. Below are the courses offered for the Fall 2024 semester. Generally, STS 330 is a required pre-requisite for the courses, however you are also eligible to enroll if you will be taking STS 330 in Fall 2024 semester. If you encounter an error when registering, please contact Kathy in STS ( Kathleen McCormick) and she will register you.  

STS 381 – Science Communication
Tue/Thu | 9:25am - 10:40am | On-Campus | 93818
Instructor: Prof. Michael Passero

The focus of this course will be communicating scientific information to other scientists and a broad, general audience. The curriculum will address the challenges that professional and academic writers encounter when communicating scientific or technical information. While professional communication in science and technology differs markedly from writing poetry, fiction, drama, or personal essays, this course will explore how science and technical writers can draw from fundamental principles in composition, rhetoric, logic, and communication theory in order to improve their skills in audience analysis, discovery, disposition, and delivery. Also, common rhetorical figures used regularly in science and technical communication such as metaphor, analogy, and modeling will be explored as compositional tools, along with the traditional rhetorical modes of development that serve all academic and professional communication. Various methods of communication will be addressed as well, including formal reports, professional science correspondence, informative brochures, and oral presentations
Course satisfies Technical & Scientific Communication RTE

STS 381 – The Role of Patient Education in Healthcare
Wed | 5:55pm - 8:35pm | On-Campus | 93141
Instructor: Prof. Jim Baker
In this course students will develop an understanding of the role of education in the field of health services. They will be given the tools to evaluate different learning styles and adapt teaching strategies to personalize patient care and communication. Students will develop a patient-centered care mindset and learn to utilize a multidisciplinary approach to patient care through the application of the disablement model. This model is essential for today’s healthcare worker, and emphasizes the physical, personal, and social aspects of patients’ conditions. Students will learn about common health issues facing the population (Covid-19, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc.), as well as the causes, common medications and treatment, and medical terminology associated with the disease. Students will identify effective strategies to educate patients about their illness. Students will learn how patient education regarding disease management is critical for patient outcomes. These topics will be introduced to provide a general understanding to any student interested in choosing a profession in the medical field. This course will include the practical application of case studies to allow students to apply their skillset to real life situations. Students will be required to complete a project wherein they are asked to provide education to a patient in the field of their choice.
Course satisfies Technical & Scientific Communication RTE

STS 390 – Critical Infrastructure & Society: Policy, Planning & Concepts
Tue/Thu | 12:15pm - 1:30pm | On-Campus | 93819
Instructor: Prof. Alex Jenseth
This course will introduce students to concepts and contemporary policy issues relating to systems within the public sector considered essential to the basic functioning of society. This “critical infrastructure” includes assets and facilities for public health, telecommunication, financial services, water supply, transportation systems, security services, etc. Taking a three-pronged approach (Policy, Planning, Concepts), students will view infrastructure from the perspective of [1] those working within the government, especially in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sub-agency, the Cyber & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), [2] those working in the world of academic and professional Infrastructure work [engineers, planners, politicians, designers]—focus on those who work with risk and resilience, and [3] those working in STS and adjacent academic fields [Media Studies, Digital Studies, Urban Studies, Resource Geography, Human Geography, and others], seeking to understand the phenomenon of infrastructure and its large role in the 21st Century. Upon completion of this course, students will be conversational on critical infrastructure with respect to these three defined areas. Additionally, based on empirical evidence drawn from policy documents and professional literature across multiple disciplines, students will be able to synthesize complex arguments about the manifold effects of infrastructure on us and our effects on it.

Course satisfies Impact of Technological Change RTE

STS 391 - Generative AI: Choices and Challenges
Instructor: Dr. Emma Stamm

Recent years have seen significant growth in the field of generative AI. Today, programs such as ChatGPT, Dall-E, and Midjourney produce novel works of writing, visual art, code, and more. While AI has long raised questions about the stakes of technological progress, these questions may be more urgent than ever before. “Generative AI: Choices and Challenges” explores the possibilities and hazards of this development. The course features three units. In the first, we investigate historical precursors to today’s applications. In the second, we ask if the capacity for creativity may be meaningfully attributed to computers. The third examines the impact of generative AI on students, professionals, and creators. By the end of the semester, students will be able to express original, well-informed perspectives on generative AI as a socio-technical phenomenon.
Course satisfies Impact of Technological Change RTE

STS 394: Global Television & Society
Instructor: Prof. Dennis Major
This course examines the ways in which subscription streaming services have impacted television’s role in our global culture.  They have changed the way that many of us integrate television into our everyday lives, allowing on-demand access to vast content libraries.  Students will explore the range of infrastructures, business practices, and distribution strategies that underpin platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and AppleTV+.  Topics will include viewer agency and control, audience surveillance, content curation, and algorithms.
Course satisfies Global Connections RTE

science, technology, & society

Memorial Hall, Room 116
Spring 2024 Hours:
Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm


Edmund Douglass
Chair of STS/Associate Professor of Physics


Kathleen McCormick
Administrative Assistant 1

Last Modified 7/15/24