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DATE: March 26, 2002

UM-Dearborn to introduce minor in science and technology studies this fall

DEARBORN--- Since the campus's inception with a gift from the Ford Motor Company in 1959, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has been closely linked to the automobile industry in metro Detroit.

Many students work in the auto industry during school and after graduation, and the campus is located among landmarks of the auto industry and its history, including Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, the Henry Ford Estate and the Rouge Plant.

That's why it makes sense for the UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters to introduce a minor in science and technology studies (STS) with a focus on the automobile this fall.

Science and technology studies is a multidisciplinary field in which scholars from humanities, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and other disciplines "examine the social contexts within which science and technology emerge, the organizations of people that implement scientific and technological systems, and the social consequences and cultural reactions to these systems," according to Bruce Pietrykowski, associate professor of economics at UM-Dearborn and director of the campus's Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage.

"Students will be encouraged to explore the relationship between technology and public policy, design and the environment, industrial production and everyday life," Pietrykowski said. "The fact that this program will pay special attention to the science and technology of the automobile makes this course of study especially relevant to our region and our students at UM-Dearborn."

The science and technology studies minor will complement other campus initiatives and programs such as the Center for the Study of Automotive Heritage, the environmental studies/environmental science program, and the online bachelor of general studies degree originally developed for the UAW/Ford program.

Students choosing to minor in science and technology studies will be required to take an introductory course, "The Automobile in American Life and Society," which will be created specifically for the program.

The course, to be taught by Jonathan Smith, associate professor of English at UM-Dearborn, will introduce students to STS studies by examining topics such as the automobile's role in the history of manufacturing; the impact of various production techniques on work and workers; the effects of the automobile on the environment, the design of cities, and the development of suburbs; the iconic status of the car in American culture; and the relationship between automobile design and aesthetics.

Students also will be required to enroll in four three-credit upper division courses, with at least one upper-division course from each of the following areas: science, technology, and cultures; science, technology, and labor; and science, technology, and environments.

The STS minor is the result of two years of work and planning by an interdisciplinary group of faculty from CASL and the College of Engineering and Computer Science, led by Smith, together with Greg Field, former assistant professor of history at UM-Dearborn, and Pietrykowski.

The group spent the 2000-2001 academic year reading scholarly and popular publications, meeting with external faculty consultants, and discussing curricular and programmatic options, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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