STS as Critical Pedagogy

Cite as:

York, Emily, and Shannon Conley. 2019. "STS As Critical Pedagogy." In “The STS Futures Lab at the Intersection of Research and Pedagogy.” In Innovating STS Digital Exhibit, curated by Aalok Khandekar and Kim Fortun. Society for Social Studies of Science. August. STS as Critical Pedagogy

Essay Map

Essay Meta-Narrative

This essay reflects on the opportunities and challenges of developing and implementing STS pedagogies, as well as the possibilities of thinking about STS as critical pedagogy.

The STS Futures Lab exists within the context of an ABET-accredited applied science undergraduate B.S. program called Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) at James Madison University (JMU). We (Emily York and Shannon N. Conley) are faculty with primary teaching responsibilities in ISAT. This teaching context inspired us to think more about how to make STS accessible and relevant to STEM students, which led to experimentation and scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) work on STS pedagogies. How could we make STS hands-on and engaging for our applied science students? This led, in part, to the creation of the STS Futures Lab.

Through this work, we came to reflect on the fact that many of our STS colleagues at other institutions are also working to develop STS pedagogies in their various contexts, but that we could all benefit from a stronger network. To that end, we have been working to create a stronger Virginia STS community close to us as well as a stronger STS community across geographic boundaries focused on pedagogy. At 4S 2019 in New Orleans, we are co-organizing along with our colleague Marisa Brandt at Michigan State a panel on “STS as Critical Pedagogy.” We have also received an NSF grant to host a workshop on "STS as a critical pedagogy" at JMU in August 2020. In addition to developing STS pedagogies, we seek to further explore the ways that teaching and research mutually inform each other.

Shared Questions: Innovating STS

All Innovating STS exhibits are oriented by nine shared questions in order to generate comparative insight. These are: ARTICULATION: What STS innovations (of theory, methodology, pedagogy, practice, engagement, …) are being articulated ? NEED: Why is this STS innovation needed ? FRAMEWORKS: What...Read more

About Innovating STS

Furthering its theme, Innovations, Interruptions, Regenerations , the 2019 annual 4S meeting in New Orleans will include a special exhibit, Innovating STS , that showcases innovations in STS as well as ways “innovation” has been studied, conceptualized, practiced, and critiqued. Extending 4S’s...Read more

Articulation

Anticipatory Ethical Reasoning CHEP Presentation 2019

In this presentation that Conley and York gave at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy at Virginia Tech (2019), preliminary analysis of pre- and post-tests for two different implementations of and ethical reasoning module were analyzed.Read more

Need

STS As Critical Pedagogy NSF Proposal Project Description

This NSF Proposal Project Description, written and submitted in 2019 by Emily York and Shannon N. Conley, describes the need for developing STS as critical pedagogy, and provides justification for funding to host a workshop on this topic.Read more

Frameworks

Connecting Critical Participation and Critical Pedagogy

As described in our NSF proposal , frameworks that inform our thinking about STS as critical pedagogy include critical participation and critical pedagogy. How can we create learning environments that support students’ development of critical thinking skills as applied to the examination of science...Read more

Infrastructures

Creating STS Spaces and Disciplinary Dialogue Through Teaching

We have found that, for us, successfully doing STS in STEM spaces requires developing the capacity for disciplinary dialogue and creative translation—honoring the intent and values of different disciplinary practices and languages while finding ways for these to travel across boundaries. At the...Read more
The STS Futures Lab: A Space Proposal

In the 2018-19 year, the STS Futures Lab operated in a temporary, shared space. At the end of the academic year, we put together a space proposal articulating our need and justification for a dedicated space. This PDF is the space proposal we submitted. We were subsequently granted a dedicated...Read more

Examples

Design Fiction Final Project Assignment

In the Integrated Science and Technology program at James Madison University, students are required to take a foundations course on "Technology, Science, and Society." In this course, learning objectives include learning some basic STS concepts (e.g., social construction...Read more

Scenario Workshop: Glowing Dogs

This class activity can be adapted with different cut-from-the-news topics, and is designed to introduced students to some basics of scenario analysis, design fiction, and ethical reasoning.Read more

Visualizing and Engaging With STS Concepts

Philosophy of science diagram
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Philosophy of science diagram

Philosophy of Science Diagram

This diagram illustrates the relationship between some basic concepts in the (traditional) philosophy of science.

Governance of Science and Technology diagram

Governance of Science and Technology Diagram

This diagram illustrates the relationship between some basic concepts in the governance of science and technology.

Philosophy of science card showing Ludwig Fleck

Philosophy of Science Card: Fleck

This is one in a series of Philosophy of Science cards that I have used in discussion activities in class to help students engage with some philosophers of science and related concepts.

Philosophy of science card showing Thomas Kuhn

Philosophy of Science Card: Kuhn

This is one in a series of Philosophy of Science cards that I have used in discussion activities in class to help students engage with some philosophers of science and related concepts.

Regeneration

The STS Futures Lab: The Student Dimension

Our first STS Futures Lab cohort of undergraduate student members, 2018
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Two undergraduate STEM student members of the STS Futures Lab on a ferry in Helsinki, where they co-presented STS research with Lab co-PIs Emily York and Shannon N. Conley

Students Abroad For a Conference

This photo shows two undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab--Samuel Kodua and Nolan Harrington--on a ferry in Helsinki, where they co-presented with Lab co-PIs Emily York and Shannon N. Conley at the SEESHOP (Studies of Expertise and Experience) 2019 meeting.

Exposing undergraduate STEM students to STS research and to international collaboration and scholarship is one way that the STS Futures Lab helps STEM students to appreciate different forms of knowledge production and expertise. It also gives them a chance to develop research skills in the social sciences, and to develop the professional skills of conference presentation. While the expense of such trips makes it a challenge, we are striving to find more funding to enable such opportunities.

Shannon N. Conley and undergraduate student Nolan Harrington co-present at SEESHOP 2019.

Co-Presenting With Students

Shannon N. Conley and undergraduate student Nolan Harrington co-present research-in-progress, "Negotiating Expertise, Trust, and Identity in a European Union, Catholic, Island Nation" at the SEESHOP (Studies of Expertise and Experience) 2019 meeting in Helsinki.

Inviting undergraduate (mostly STEM) students to conduct research and co-present with us is an amazing learning opportunity for our students. Here, our two undergraduate students were the only student participants at this small international workshop.

Students creating a design fiction imagining nano textiles in a plausible future scenario

STS Futures Lab in the Classroom

In addition to undergraduate student members, the STS Futures Lab has created an ethical reasoning module for one of the required undergraduate social contexts classes in the Integrated Science and Technology B.S. program at James Madison University.

In small groups, students conduct research on a technology area. They conduct scenario analysis, and then create a design fiction based on one of the scenarios that emerged in their scenario analysis. They are asked to select a scenario and to create a design fiction that is neither utopian or dystopian. Their design fiction juxtaposes 2D and 3D elements across scales, and is supposed to help start a conversation with their peers about the social and ethical dimensions of their plausible future scenario.

Three undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab collaborate on a design fiction prototype as part of the Co-Imagining Futures workshop

Collaborative Design Fiction

Three undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab collaborate on a design fiction as part of the Co-Imagining Futures research project--imagining a plausible future related to the topic of information technology education and gender parity. Here, they work on a quick design fiction prototype at the end of a half-day workshop conducted with an invited expert on information technology education.

Collaborating on quick design fictions facilitates critical thinking about plausible sociotechnical futures, including discussion about what makes a particular future plausible or not, and what kinds of factors might shape it in different directions. The design fiction becomes a useful artifact to negotiate different ideas and visions of a plausible future, and to then have further conversation about it.

Here, students are participating in the Co-Imagining Futures research project. Their participation in this research is a learning experience for them, but is also critical to the research itself: they are excellent mediators between the various experts in the workshop.

Students run through a short presentation as a means of updating faculty advisors in the STS Futures Lab on their research progress

Close Advising and Mentorship

The STS Futures Lab offers an opportunity for a small cohort of undergraduate students to meet regularly with faculty members / Lab co-PIs Emily York and Shannon N. Conley for advising and mentorship. Students can pursue their own interests, developing STS-inflected research projects as part of the Lab and/or in conjunction with their capstone research projects. Students who are undergraduate majors in Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT), an ABET-accredited applied science major at James Madison University, are required to complete a capstone research project.

Two undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab write a design fiction song

Design Fiction Music

Who said music couldn't be part of design fiction? Two undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab write a song from the perspective of a student living in a plausible future in which higher education is no longer valued.

Students in the STS Futures Lab bond and engage in a spontaneous STS-inflected discussion while putting together cabinets for the Lab space

Forging an STS Student Community Within STEM

By opening the STS Futures Lab to a small cohort of undergraduate students, we seek to forge an STS student community that learns as a cohort how to engage with each other and support each other around STS-inflected projects. While students from any discipline are welcome, the STS Futures Lab is located within the College of Integrated Science and Engineering, and the majority of participants are majors in the ABET-accredited applied science major called "Integrated Science and Technology." Developing an STS community within STEM spaces is an act of critical participation that seeks to make STS ways of thinking and doing a readily accessible and self-evidently important part of doing science and engineering well.

Undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab stand at a whiteboard as they collaborate on a scenario analysis related to implementation precision medicine

Collaborative Scenario Analysis

Undergraduate student members of the STS Futures Lab collaborate on scenario analysis related to implementation precision medicine as part of their participation in the Co-Imagining Future research project.

Working through various social, political, economic, technological, and environmental drivers, they iterate through a number of scenario crosses that force them to think through what conditions could lead to various scenarios in the next 20-30 years.

The critical thinking that this entails is particularly developed in a small group context where different participant's assumptions and values often surface through discussion of plausible socio-technical trajectories.

Students interact with an invited expert as part of the Co-Imagining Futures research project

Participating in Research and Interacting With Invited Experts

Undergraduate student members of the Lab who are participating in the Co-Imagining Futures research project directly interact with invited experts during the half-day workshop. Here, several students are engaging with Dr. Anne Henriksen, an expert in epigenetics and sex hormones, as they collaborate on a scenario analysis related to implementation precision medicine.

An undergraduate student member of the STS Futures Lab tries out the virtual reality headset

Experimenting With Virtual Reality

The STS Futures Lab is beginning to experiment with virtual and augmented reality to assess whether, to what extent, and with what implications VR and AR might be leveraged to create design fiction for undergraduate education, research purposes, and public engagement initiatives. Here, an undergraduate student member of the Lab experiments with VR.

Engagement