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 at JMU in August 2020 on STS as a critical pedagogy. In addition to developing STS pedagogies, we seek to further explore the ways that teaching and research mutually inform each other.