, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 127-137,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Feb 2012

On the Teaching of Science, Technology and International Affairs

Abstract

Despite the ubiquity and critical importance of science and technology in international affairs, their role receives insufficient attention in traditional international relations curricula. There is little literature on how the relations between science, technology, economics, politics, law and culture should be taught in an international context. Since it is impossible even for scientists to master all the branches of natural science and engineering that affect public policy, the learning goals of students whose primary training is in the social sciences should be to get some grounding in the natural sciences or engineering, to master basic policy skills, to understand the basic concepts that link science and technology to their broader context, and to gain a respect for the scientific and technological dimensions of the broader issues they are addressing. They also need to cultivate a fearless determination to master what they need to know in order to address policy issues, an open-minded but skeptical attitude towards the views of dueling experts, regardless of whether they agree with their politics, and (for American students) a world-view that goes beyond a strictly U.S. perspective on international events. The Georgetown University program in Science, Technology and International Affairs (STIA) is a unique, multi-disciplinary undergraduate liberal arts program that embodies this approach and could be an example that other institutions of higher learning might adapt to their own requirements.