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Science and Technology in Society (STiS)


Science does not arise and exist in a vacuum. Studying the way science is embedded in larger social settings is essential to understanding the possibilities and limitations of science and research.

Professionalize your view on science
Taking a scientific look at science will shift your focus to various questions: Does science discover social realities or does it help to create them? How do we measure scientific progress? How does scientific and scholarly communication happen?

This minor will address these questions by turning the sciences into an object of study. It aims to give a thoroughly interdisciplinary perspective on scientific cultures and their roles in society. It trains students to critically interrogate scientific claims and practices, thereby changing students' perspectives on their own discipline. Skills and insights acquired in this minor are broadly useful in the professional realms of science communication and science policy.

Scientific cultures, information technology and visual tools
In the beginning of the minor we look at how the development of science and technology can be studied from a cultural, sociological and economic perspective. We will zoom in on communication patterns, publication cultures and the politics and economics of journal publishing. You will develop a critical perspective on the role of information technology and the quantitative part of science. By examining the various ways visual tools and media are shaping scientific knowledge and objectivity, you will understand the implications for science and society in an increasingly visual environment. In the last course of the minor you will explore recent socio-technical developments that shape how scientists produce knowledge, collaborate, collect, share, and assess their data.

A mix of skills and professional training
You can apply for the minor when you are in your 2nd or 3rd year. It contains five consecutive courses that are all taught in English, scheduled in the first semester of the academic year. These courses include a mix of reading, collaborative projects, and training in interdisciplinary skills such as interviews and co-authorship of a paper.

The minor Science and Technology in Society is coordinated by the Center for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). This center is part of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The CWTS not only studies the dynamics of scientific research and the impact of research assessment on knowledge production. It also applies this knowledge through products and services to academic institutes to evaluate their academic impact and scientific standing.

CWTS is an interdisciplinary institute with research staff coming from a broad spectrum of specialized academic fields, ranging from psychology, political science, literature studies and information science to computer science, economics, physics and chemistry.

Information on the 5 individual courses:

  1. Science as Culture: Introduction
  2. Publishing and Communicating Research
  3. Metrics and Knowledge Production
  4. Visualizing Science
  5. New Developments in Knowledge Production

1) Science as Culture: Introduction
This first STiS course will introduce the minor. Science does not arise and exist in a vacuum, but in specific historical, political, social, and (inter-) national contexts. Students will gain a basic understanding of the rise of scientific cultures, their histories, and their most important institutions. The course also gives a theoretical and methodological overview of the most important concepts in science and technology studies. This will enable students to understand how science itself can be studied in a rigorously scientific way.

The course is coordinated by:
prof.dr. Paul Wouters.

2) Publishing and Communicating Research
The second STiS course focuses on scientific and scholarly communication patterns, from 17th century print to 21st century web-based publishing. Students will become familiar with the differences in scientific communication patterns and cultures between disciplines. They will develop a critical perspective on the role played by certain quantitative ways of communication.

The course is coordinated by:
dr. Thed van Leeuwen

3) Metrics and Knowledge Production
The third STiS course will introduce students to scientometrics, which is the branch of social sciences that studies scientific and technological developments by means of quantitative methods. Students will become acquainted with, and develop a critical perspective on, the measurement of scientific performance.

The course is coordinated by:
dr. Thed van Leeuwen

4) Visualizing Science
The fourth STiS course delves into the various ways in which visual tools and media are shaping scientific knowledge and objectivity. Students will learn how images support and shape the notion of scientific objectivity; explore current visualizations and their role in data analysis; and understand the implications of imaging technologies for the practice of science and scholarship.

The course is coordinated by:
dr. Tjitske Holtrop

5) New Developments in Knowledge Production
The fifth STiS course explores recent socio-technical developments that shape how scientists produce knowledge, collaborate, collect and share their data, and how they are being assessed. The course builds on the four previous modules but is also accessible for students that only took course 1, Science as Culture.

The course develops around a collaborative project. Students will learn to put current developments in science in a historical perspective; study the role of information technology in scientific research; and understand the new forms of big data as the basis for scientific discovery.

The course is coordinated by:
prof.dr. Paul Wouters
dr. Thomas Franssen


Students can register from 1 May to 15 August via uSis. The course catalogue code is 6000MSCTSN, activity number: 1453.

Please note that we can accommodate a maximum of 40 students. Admission is based on the students’ qualifications + a first come, first served basis.

Students from other universities will need permission to register. Please send an e-mail to Josephine Bergmans via This also applies to Exchange and Study Abroad students. For more general information for international students please see the Study Abroad website.


For more information please contact Josephine Bergmans (minor coordinator) via or visit the Website Minor Science and Technology in Society (STiS)