GSAS offers a secondary field in science, technology, and society (STS) to candidates for the PhD, DDes, and SJD degrees. The STS secondary field serves a wide range of student interests and career plans. For example: A sociologist or political scientist wants to investigate the impact of emerging technologies on the distribution of power in society. An engineer or public policy analyst would like to explore why innovation occurs unevenly across nations and time periods and how to encourage innovation in high-risk domains. A law student wants to know how nonwestern societies deal with intellectual property or bioethics. An anthropologist wishes to investigate how DNA databases affect individual and group identities. A historian would like to trace the evolution of nuclear secrecy policies from the postwar to the present. Through a structured program of interdisciplinary study, STS aims to satisfy these and many similar lines of inquiry.

STS is an emerging field dedicated to studying the institutions and practices of scientists, engineers, physicians, architects, planners, and other technical professionals, as well as the complex relationships between science, technology and society. STS employs a variety of methods from the humanities and social sciences to examine how science and technology both influence and are influenced by their social, cultural, and material contexts. A major area of interest is the role of technologies and technological systems in shaping the purposes, possibilities, and meanings of human lives, from the creation of novel biological organisms to the design of urban infrastructures and the management of global risks to health, food, security, and the environment.


a. Advice and Contact

Interested students should first consult with a member of the Executive Committee for the STS Secondary Field, who will serve as the student’s primary advisor. The student may then be referred to an appropriate Faculty Affiliate in their Department or School for further advice. Courses required for the Secondary Field should be selected in consultation with the student’s STS advisor. Further information is available through the Kennedy School STS Program. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b. Course Requirements

Students will be required to take four half-courses, distributed as follows:

(i) One framing course from Annex 1, Section (i). These are general courses offering an overview of STS theories and methods, as well as a broad orientation to the field.

(ii) One graduate level topical course from Annex 1, Section (ii). These are complementary courses that deepen students’ acquaintance with STS analytic approaches as applied to different domains of science, technology, and medicine.

(iii) Two half-courses of related interest from Annex 1, Section (iii-v).

A full list of STS courses may be found at

C. Other Requirements

In the course of their PhD studies at Harvard, students must present a talk in the STS Circle sponsored by the Kennedy School’s STS Program with support from GSAS. This talk should demonstrate the student’s capacity to present an original, theoretically informed analysis of a problem at the intersection of science, technology and society. Proposals to present in the STS Circle should be accompanied by a note of approval from the student’s STS advisor. For students in the natural sciences, a capstone project, developed in consultation with the student’s advisor, may take the place of the STS Circle presentation.

STS Courses for Secondary Field

(i) Framing Courses (offering foundational introduction to the field)

  • IGA-513. Science, Power and Politics (HKS, offered each fall)
  • History of Science 100. Knowing the World: An Introduction to the History of Science (FAS)
  • History of Science 157. Sociology of Science (FAS)


(ii) Methods Courses (deepening specialist knowledge in field)

  • Anthropology 1850. Ethnography as Practice and Genre (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2660. The Anthropology of Knowledge (FAS)
  • History of Science 150. History of Social Science (FAS)
  • History of Science 152. Filming Science (FAS)
  • IGA 502M. Science, Technology, Innovation, and Public Policy (offered every year)
  • IGA 518. Seminar: Expertise in Law and Science
  • IGA 515. Bioethics, Law and the Life Sciences (offered alternate years)
  • Sociology 260. The Sociology of Global Health
  • SM 750.0. Introduction to Social Medicine and Global Health (HMS)


(iii) Related Courses (FAS)

  • Anthropology 1655. Politics of Nature (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2635. Image/Media/Publics: Seminar (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2645. Reconfiguring Regimes: Power, Law and Governance (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2740. Culture and Mental Illness (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2750. Local Biologies: Perspectives on the Interaction Between Culture and Biology (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2840. Ethnography and Personhood (FAS)
  • Anthropology 2876. New Ethnographies in the Anthropology of Social Experience (FAS)
  • Comparative Literature 273. Approaches to Modernity: The Metropolis (FAS)
  • Microbiology 213. Social Issues in Biology (FAS)
  • Economics 1641. Industrial Organization: Theory and Practice (FAS)
  • Economics 2888r. Economics of Science and Engineering Workshop (FAS)
  • Engineering Sciences 139. Innovation in Science and Engineering: Conference Course (FAS)
  • Engineering Sciences 201. Decision Theory (FAS)
  • Engineering Sciences 207. Communicating Science (FAS)
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy 78. Environmental Politics (FAS)
  • Environmental Science and Public Policy 10. Public Policy for Environmental Science (FAS)
  • Government 1093. Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature (FAS)
  • Government 1521. Bureaucratic Politics: Military, Government, Economic and Social Organizations (FAS)
  • Government 2034. Ethics and Economics (FAS)
  • United States in the World 13. Medicine and Society in America (FAS)
  • History of Science 134. Nature on Display (FAS)
  • History of Science 138. Sex, Gender, and Evolution (FAS)
  • History of Science 139. The Postgenomic Moment (FAS)
  • History of Science 148. History of Global Health (FAS)
  • History of Science 288. History and Philosophy of Technology: Proseminar (FAS)
  • History of Science 259. History of the History of Science (FAS)
  • Literature 147. Robots: Imagination, Fiction and Reality (FAS)
  • Literature 116. Literature and Science (FAS)
  • Sociology 190. Life and Death in the US: Medicine and Disease in Social Context (FAS)


(iv)Related Courses (HKS and GSD)

  • API-302. Analytic Frameworks for Policy (HKS)
  • GSD 4323. Constructing Vision: History and Theory of Optical Applications in Design (GSD)
  • GSD 5101. Histories and Theories of Urban Interventions (GSD)


(v)Related Courses (Other Schools)

  • HBS 4420. PSY 2650. Decision Making and Negotiation (HBS)
  • HBA 1166. Managing International Trade and Investment (HBS)
  • HDS 3256. The Shock of the New (HDS)
  • LAW-33800A. Copyright (HLS)
  • LAW-36000A. Evidence (HLS)
  • LAW-94530A. Health Law Policy Workshop (HLS)
  • LAW-96440-A. Law and Psychology - The Emotions: Seminar (HLS)
  • LAW-97351A. Moral Order and the Irrational: Readings in Nietzsche and Freud: Seminar (HLS)
  • LAW-44600A. Psychiatry and the Law (HLS)
  • MG722. Social Issues in Biology (HMS)
  • SM715.0. Seminar in Global Health Equity (HMS)
  • SM750.0. Introduction to Social Medicine and Global Health (HMS)
  • HPM213. Public Health Law (HSPH)
  • ID250. Ethical Basis of the Practice of Public Health (HSPH)