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What is the Human Context of Science and Technology (HCST) Certificate Program?

The Human Context of Science and Technology (HCST) is an undergraduate certificate program that provides students a deeper understanding of the human context of science, technology, engineering, and medicine.

Science, technology, engineering, and medicine exist in human contexts. STEMM fields are human, social endeavors, and the products and practices of those fields have significant impacts on human beings and the society and world in which we all live. The pressing problems of today require an interdisciplinary understanding provided by the Human Context of Science and Technology. From the COVID-19 pandemic to global climate change, from personalized medicine to the availability and affordability of healthcare, from the use of reproductive and genetic technologies to the use of technology to influence elections and social movements, from genomics to questions of race and gender, from artificial intelligence to concerns about privacy and data protection – all of these issues are simultaneously scientific, technological, social, political, and ethical. HCST builds on generations of work in the history, philosophy, rhetoric, and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. The HCST Certificate Program brings together scholars in the humanities and social sciences to engage with scientists and engineers, to better understand and address these complex issues.

Who will benefit from a Certificate in HCST?

The Certificate in the Human Context of Science and Technology is directed toward students in all fields across the university, from the humanities and social sciences to science, math, information systems, and engineering. Those in the humanities and social sciences will benefit from the broad understanding of science, technology, and medicine provided by the program, and will be able to apply the methods and tools from their majors to better understand science, technology, and medicine. Students majoring in science, math, or engineering will benefit from understanding the human context of their own fields of work, and will be able to bring their knowledge of their major fields to bear on issues of great importance for human society.

Employers, graduate programs, and medical schools are consistently seeking students who think critically about science and technology and understand the human context in which they occur. Medical schools increasingly encourage applicants to train in the humanities; national directives suggest that social scientists ought to be involved in engineering research; and grant and accreditation agencies often require training in ethics. More generally, understanding the human context of science, technology, and medicine is essential in today’s world for all members of society. In an age where our daily lives are affected by advances in science, technology, and medicine, it is essential that we, as individuals and as citizens, understand these fields and the human context in which they exist.