Science, Technology & Human Values


Science and Technology in Society (STS) draws upon the disciplines of history, philosophy, and sociology. Practitioners, commentators, researchers, academics and many others socialize STS ideas through journal articles. STS thought leaders contribute to the epistemological pursuit of scientific knowledge and the development of technology through journals such as Science Technology and Human Values (ST&HV). As an example, Hilgartner asserts that the field of STS is exerting intellectual influence in the academic world and in public affairs and highlighting fundamental issues of the current technology age. (Hilgartner, 201) Hilgartner also presents the idea that STS needs to initiate strategic planning though accomplishing this is difficult since STS is a highly international academic field, populated by independent thinkers homed in national, local and disciplinary differences. (Hilgartner, 202) Mulkay emphasized that sociological literature on the scientific community remains true to its functionalist origins in stressing the importance of the normative structure of science and in paying little attention to ideology. (Mulkay, 637) Harry Collins on the other hand suggested that the definition of a “social circle” is distinguished by the greater density of relations between its members than between members and non-members, and this depends on the definition of the relations, which are held to be significant. (Collins, 166) These practitioners and many others use social journal media as a way of communicating their theories, ideas, and beliefs concerning the definition of STS and how it is has been shaped and affected over time historically speaking, through philosophical debate, and social understanding of man and his relationship to nature.
This paper is broken into three different sections. The first section is about the history of the ST&HV journal and the people who promote its success. The second section considers the journal content structure and its relationship to the publishing company. The third and final section explores the collective findings of the team and it meaning to the field of STS.


ST&HV is a scholarly, interdisciplinary journal that looks beyond just science and technology and broadens its focus to study human values. “More and more, human values come into conflict with scientific advancement as we deal with important issues such as nuclear power, environmental degradation and information technology” (Science, Technology, & Human Values n.d.). The focus of this journal is not just the study of scientific advancement, but the associated human interactions.
ST&HV is published by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) through SAGE Publications. SAGE Publications, Inc. publishes journals, books, and electronic media for academic, scholarly, educational, and professional markets in United States and internationally. The journal was originally published in 1976, however, the first issue of the Newsletter on Science, Technology & Human Values was actually the 17th issue of a prior series called the Newsletters of the Program on Public Conceptions of Science. Volume 1 was published through the Harvard University program on Science, Technology and Public Policy. (Shelanski 1-2). That first issue spoke of the need to establish and maintain communication with individuals and groups concerned with the problem of the public understanding of science. However, it recognized even then that the problem would not necessarily be corrected by spreading more and better information and it called for re-examination of the fundamental aspects of the relationship between science and its various public.
ST&HV was then published through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the President and Fellows of Harvard College up through April 1987; 12(2). In October 1989, ST&HV published its last News and Calendar events section, coinciding with the change to Sage Publications. It appears that the shift from a university setting to that of a major publishing company also marks the shift from a “Newsletter”, as ST&HV was originally penned, to a scholarly journal.
The journal ranking in 2013 for the Impact Factor was 2.075 and a Ranking of 3/41 in Social Issues. The journal Impact Factor is the average number of times articles from the journal published in the past two years have been cited in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) year. The Impact Factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years.(Thompson Reuters) (Wikipedia, Impact Factor) Journal rankings are intended to reflect the place of a journal within its field, the relative difficulty of being published in that journal, and the prestige associated with it. (Thompson Reuters) (Wikipedia, Journal Ranking)

The top four cited articles published in the journal according to Google scholar are:
“Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation” published in 2000 has been cited 1,242 times.
“Citizen Participation and environmental risk: A survey of institutional mechanisms” published in
1990 has been cited 906 times.
“Boundary organizations in environmental policy and science: an introduction” published in 2001 has been cited 644 times.
“Is Science a Public Good?” published in 1993 has been cited 570 times.


The 4S board incorporates standing committees, one of which is the Publications Committee. According to the 4S charter, the ST&HV editor is chosen by nomination / recommendation and serves at the pleasure of the Committee and Council. Excerpted from the 4S Charter
The Society, acting through the Council, will seek to publish appropriate literature (including a journal) for distribution to the membership and for sale. The publications committee will be responsible for the conduct of the Society's journal and all matters of editorial policy. The publications committee may from time to time recommend to the Council one or more candidates for the position of editor. The editor shall be appointed by the Council for a term of up to five years (renewable).
The position of Editor can be held for up to 5 years or possibly beyond, as it is renewable. The Editorial Board consisting of twenty-two members, one managing editor, one book review editor, nine former editors, a president, a secretary / treasurer, and nineteen former presidents.

Findings & Conclusions

ST&HV is the output and collection of ideas and research of STS thought leaders, organized by 4S. Scientists, technologists, and sociologists desiring to share and have reviewed, their theories, experiments, and academic works can do so through this platform. According to Wallis, Rolando, and Borgman in their 2013 article “If We Share Data, Will Anyone Use Them? Data Sharing and Reuse in the Long Tail of Science and Technology”, “Data long have been the cornerstone of science. Hence, the ability to share, reuse, and combine data offers scientists a wealth of opportunities: reanalysis of evidence, verification of results, minimized duplication of effort, and accelerated innovation.” Judging from the 4S mission statement and their demonstrated commitment to knowledge sharing, the ST&HV is making a strong contribution to sharing and cultivating scientific and technical knowledge in a societal context.
For the past thirty years and beyond, ST&HV has been adapting to developing technology such as the Internet and its distribution through a large publishing company has not only affected its style, but has allowed it to be embraced by a broad audience. With an editorial board and contributors residing throughout the world, ST&HV is continuing to offer and avenue for scholarly discourse of not only science and technology, but the human interaction that is of increasing relevance today.

Early Era Articles

Since its inception in 1978, ST&HV has been distributing articles in the field of STS. Below are presented three articles that study ethics, social reconstruction of knowledge, and human frailties. Though they represent some of the various topics in ST&HV, the tone and methods of these articles reveal potential commonalities in this journal. Perhaps the most significant commonality is the focus on Human Values.
Andre Cournand’s "The Code of the Scientist and Its Relationship to Ethics" discusses ethics as they pertain to the relationship between scientists and non-scientists. Published back in 1978, this article recognized the importance of a complimentary programme of the code of the scientist and an ethic of development. Cournand became interested in an ethical code for scientists and joined the Frensham Pond group. Though this affiliation, he became acquainted with Harriet Zuckerman and Robert Merton, who introduced scientific norms as part of a code of ethics. The Frensham Pond group is a consortium of scholars, sociologists, academics, etc. Cournand himself pioneered many innovative cardiology techniques as a doctor of medicine, a field where science and ethics frequently interact.
The article presents a supplement to the norms of science and argues for the linkage between the code of scientists and the ethic of development. To “protect the fabric of the scientific community”, Cournand proposes adding Intellectual Integrity and Objectivity, Tolerance, Doubt of Certitude, Recognition of Error, Unselfish Engagement, and Communal Spirit to the code of a scientist. This article could be an expansion and variation on Merton’s very well-known work on ethics and norms. In that vein, this work has been published as part of the ST&HV journal as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1977. AAAS is self-described as “the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society.”
The article could be considered persuasive in that it is heavily based on, challenges, and presents inquisitive discussion on existing works of widely recognized scholars. The rhetorical nature of this article could perhaps benefit from empirical data presented in the form of graphs, charts, etc. that would help to bolster and ratify this work.
Much like Cournand, Joseph Turner (1990) presents a rhetorical article that contains no charts, graphs, or illustrations but contained one photo and several footnotes. In the article “Democratizing Science: A Humble Proposal”, Turner suggests that there are other ways of scientific and political thinking about knowledge. Turner suggests that there is a need to change the ways we think that like science, democracy is itself unfinished and suggests that further examination is needed about the role democratic and authoritarian techniques play in special organizations, institutions, or groups (Turner, 339). Turner further argues that although everyone appreciates that inquiry is a communal activity that it should be possible to conceive of different dispositions of tasks and responsibilities for the joint activities that constitute scientific and technical thinking. (Turner, 350) He also suggests that today, activities that constitute scientific and technical thinking entail (1) linear production, from innovation to evaluation to dissemination; (2) specialization to tasks, giving rise to further specialization; and (3) transmissibility of results. (Turner, 350) Turner proposes an alternative approach calling it “knowledge events” (Turner, 353) which are comprised of three activities for social reconstruction. These activities promote the notion “anything can be made liberating” and would include:
1. Developing a theory of knowledge events and of the relationship of these happenings to
2. Developing accounts of past and present knowledge events; organized a clearinghouse;
analyze how isolated efforts can be made to reflect on each other to assist a new practice, a new movement.
3. Undertaking new knowledge events.
By definition, knowledge events must be realized in action by the people actually developing or using the knowledge under question. Without the participation of the people necessary in fashion for the development of the suspect knowledge the protest and the alternatives proposed have no power. (Turner, 355-356). Essentially, knowledge events occur as a human activity.
This concept of science as a human activity is similarly posed by Philip Bereano in 1984 in his article “Institutional Biosafety Committees and the Inadequacies of Risk Regulation”. Bereano’s analysis of the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA Research lead him to declare that committees assigned to regulate safety guidelines in DNA activities fail in proper risk assessment due to the nature of human involvement. By analyzing the roles of Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBCs), Bereano recognizes that they “do little to encourage public participation” (Bereano 26) and do not properly address cultural and political risks (Bereano 31). In addition, reductionism causes problems when resolving policy issues (Bereano 28). Bereano then proceeds to discuss human frailties as inherent in the failures.

Humans are fallible, they sometimes are arrogant, sometimes they get angry, sometimes are out of sorts because they have been quarrelling with their spouses, lovers or children, sometime are ill, sometimes are giddy, sometimes are foolish, and sometimes are evil. By not considering these aspects of the human persona, institutional biosafety committees have not functioned adequately (Bereano 32).

Not only is this an uncited and generalized claim, but its parallel structure manifests a strong rhetorical emphasis on the point that humans are imperfect and that they affect the success of IBCs.
In this article, Bereano does draw conclusions from empirical data such as surveys regarding the IBCs, as well as from personal experience and analysis. He does note, at the end of his article, that perhaps this study of IBCs could lead to better oversight in the future. The leading nature of this article represents a commonality with the other two above, with the challenging nature of Courand and the “call to humility” of Turner. Though they may not be indicative of all ST&HV articles, these three present both prescriptive measures and future research questions.
From the beginning of ST&HV in 1976 up through 1990, the journal presented articles with emphasis on its titular Human Values. Whether it is through the study of ethics, the social construction of knowledge, or the effect of the fallible human on policy, the motif of human values is a common thread through the early years of the journal. This motif is commonly portrayed through persuasive rhetoric and with a qualitative basis. Shifting our focus now to the next era of this journal, we will look at the enduring presence of human values up through contemporary times.

Modern Era Articles

From 1990 onward, ST&HV has continued to publish articles with similar motifs that center on the study and influence of human values in science and technology. However, just as the field of STS has grown over time, ST&HV has explored these motifs as they pertain to modern and emergent topics and issues.
In “Engineering Practice and Engineering Ethics”, the Lynch and Kline utilize the analysis of Diane Vaughan, as captured in her book The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA to support their position that, “[i]nvestigating the sociotechnical aspects of engineering practice can improve the initial recognition of ethical problems in real-world settings and provide an understanding of the role of workplace organization and culture in facilitating or impeding remedial action” (Lynch and Kline 195). They concur with Vaughan that science and technology studies can contribute to the teaching of engineering ethics (Lynch and Kline 195).
The authors also expand upon the work of Harris, Pritchard and Rabin (1995) who advocated the need for “preventative ethics” (Lynch and Kline 199) to avoid the conflict between managers (who are concerned with cost-benefit analysis, while having been trained as engineers) and the engineer’s commitment to public safety especially when there is a technical issue on a project that incites tension between the two concerns and could result in a disaster like the Challenger. Lynch and Kline go on to say, “…we suggest that science and technology studies can provide conceptual tools that would empower engineers to identify problematic features of their own practice and exercise their own imagination – individually and collectively – to develop strategies for dealing with these problems” (Lynch and Kline 202). They recommend so changes to the engineering ethics curriculum from the common hypothetical case studies that include multiple choice questions each of which has a correct answer which the instructor has included to more role play exercises in which the case study is not straight forward and as a team each student needs to consider all perspectives as they develop a solution. They could get a sense of their future in which as engineers they will frequently experience the challenges of conducting ethically good work in an environment that is “laced” with the tension of cost, schedule and acceptable risk, plus a demanding customer.
In this article, Lynch and Kline analyze the case of the Challenger and offer a prescriptive account to improve engineering curricula to better account for sociotechnical issues that may have been previously overlooked by and created as part of an engineering culture determined by organizational and corporate hierarchy.
While Lynch and Kline are concerned with the ethics of engineering practices and the associated risks to safety, Jennifer Fosket details risk and ethical concerns of a model designed for its assessment. In “Constructing ‘High-Risk Women’: The Development and Standardization of a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool”, Fosket argues for the consideration of interests in analyzing models used to assess risk for breast cancer development.
The central model to Fosket’s analysis and the standard model currently in use is the Gail Model that calculates cancer risk based on risk factors and determines eligibility for certain drug trials. Over time, the use of this model “has expanded has since become increasingly embedded in much wider practices, discourses, and representations of breast cancer risk and chemoprevention” (Fosket 295). Similar to Lynch and Kline, Fosket comments on the role of organizational structures on the development and practice of the Gail model. Specifically, she comments on its “embeddedness” in institutions and organizations related to cancer and its prevention.
Fosket then proceeds to discuss risk and its use by describing the marketing campaigns associated with a drug, AstraZeneca's tamoxifen, and its focus “to sell risk and risk assessment,tapping into women's worries about breast cancer and then selling tamoxifen as the solution to the problem of risk” (Fosket 304). Then, by grounding the marketing campaign in the Gail Model produced number 1.7 as that of high risk, Fosket shows how the Gail Model is further embedded in society as this number is given emblematic import (Fosket 305). Not only is the discussion of risk important in this article, but the discussion of further ethical issues such as the value of life over breast size and the image of woman in society drives home the idea that there is a reason to having a model such as the Gail model, and that the model has value to human lives as a tool that can be used in cancer prevention. While this article discusses how a mathematical or scientific model can become embedded in society, the next one discusses how society must become more actively involved in science.
Written in 2011, the article titled “A Democracy Paradox in Studies of Science and Technology” by Eva Lovbrand, Roger Pielke, Jr., and Silke Beck is a rhetorical commentary on the European Commission (EC) report titled “Taking the European Knowledge Society Seriously” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 474). They assert that today Science and Technology scholars are attracted to the idea that legitimate governance of science and technology requires citizen involvement in expert deliberations though the authors find that there are limitations given a tension between what constitutes the principles for legitimate rule as prescribed by deliberative democratic theory (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 474).
These authors offer three responses towards the EC report involving increasing “legitimacy of science and technology governance” particularly at a time when there is a perception of public mistrust” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 475). The first response offered by the authors is a examination of the scholarly justification of how more democratic forms of expertise relate to deliberative democratic theory (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 476). The second response looks at the normative principles for legitimate rule, which is advanced by deliberative democratic theorists (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 476). The final response addresses what they call the “democracy paradox” which suggests a need to clarify on “what grounds the legitimacy of deliberative expert practices is based” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 476).
According to the authors, since the 1990s the ideals of deliberative democracy have increasingly come to be seen as the result of “free and unconstrained deliberation of all about matters of common concern” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck 475). Through the aggregate model, the authors assert that democracy has established “collective decisions” and emphasize on the need to justify collective decisions through open and reasoned dialogue among free and equal people (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck, 475-476). The authors assert that by engaging the reflective citizen in a meaningful deliberation with scientific experts, it “is thought to bring about a more democratically committed knowledge society” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck, 476).
In their concluding remarks the authors argued “that studies in science and technology have taken a deliberative turn in recent decades“ revealing that there is a “growing commitment to deliberative forms of expertise that open up the governance of science and technology to a plurality of voices and framing conditions” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck, 490). They state that “rather than building the legitimacy of science and technology governance solely on the authority of advice from a closed cadre of experts, scholars of science and technology today ask scientific experts to justify their knowledge claims in view of alternative ways of reasoning and knowing.” (Lovbrand-Pielke-Beck, 490). The authors discuss the role of citizens in the governance of science and technology and the value of democracy as legitimacy.
These modern articles in ST&HV range over very different topics, yet they do reflect upon common motifs regarding ethics, organizational structure, and legitimacy. Furthermore, these articles do offer both descriptive and prescriptive pieces, yet all explore topics tied to the improvement of society. In assuming the mantle of Science, Technology, & Human Values, this journal places a very specific importance on human values and this significance is a focus throughout the articles that have been presented.

Conclusion: STS Definition & Aspirations

So, what is STS? What should STS aspire to be? Based on the study of the ST&HV scholarly journal, STS remains constant in that it is always questioning, challenging, and inquiring about humans and what they’re doing. The journal article’s content evolves along with scientific and technological developments over the years, but remains true to its STS purposes and intent. It could even be said that STS is not limited to science and technology, because science and technology touch essentially everything that humans do. This includes how humans live daily, meaning how we innovate, how we work, how we pursue leisure, and even the relationships we have with each other. STS-related lenses, theories, and frames to include ANT, SCOT, Marxism, determinism, constructivism, laboratory studies, and more all study the relationships, roles, and networks involved in developing, shaping, changing, replacing, and adopting science and technology. STS should continue to do this and aspire to expand to be recognized as a related discipline to the hard sciences and a force to be reckoned with in the consideration of the life cycle of society’s technological developments. (Word Count: 3733)

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Lovbrand, Eva, Pielke Roger Jr., Beck Silke (2011). “A Democracy Paradox in Studies of Science and
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