BONUS “What is STS?” Three Ordinary Examples | WeAreSTS

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Odile Lehnen reports for STSNewsRoom. What is STS? This is a question all STS students are asked on a regular basis – when travelling, joining a new sports club, at parties or family reunions, and when being interviewed for jobs. I find the question isn’t as straightforward as most people want. I study Science and Society (renamed “Sociology and Politics of Science BSc“) at University College London. 

In this episode, I explore what Science and Technology Studies (STS) is really all about. To do this, I interview three of my tutors about three ordinary things:

  • the fruit fly Drosophila
  • the car
  • the idea of standard time

Each of these examples tells fascinating stories about science, technology, and society. Each displays the value of STS as a research skill or technique for investigation. When we ask the right questions, we can get underneath the subjects we study and engage fundamental questions. For example, how is science made? Why did a particular scientific development happen at the precise place and time that it did? How do technologies become established in our societies and how do they have the power to change our lives? Who benefits and who loses with innovation and discovery? How do the ways we imagine emerging technologies shape our future?

Further material

For more about the example Dr Martin discussed (fruit fly):

  • Robert E. Kohler, “Moral economy, material culture, and community in Drosophila Genetics” in Mario Biagioli, ed., The Science Studies Reader (NY: Routledge, 1999), pp. 243-257.

For more about the example Professor Agar discussed (standard time):

For more about the example Professor Stilgoe discussed (the car):





Music credits

Inside the episode, Odile uses this music:

Podcast information

“WeAreSTS” is a production of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at University College London (UCL). To find out more, and to leave feedback about the show, visit us online:

STS Students and staff also can find on the website information about how to get involved with our programme.

Editing and post-production by Professor Joe Cain.

“WeAreSTS” producer is Professor Joe Cain.

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