Engineering, Science, and Society

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Whether one looks to regenerative medicine, which seeks to defy death by enabling damaged tissues to be re-grown, or to NASA missions that aim not only to explore our own solar system but even to probe beyond our galaxy, or to the mysteries and promise of research at the nano-level, the benefits and excitement of modern technology are unmistakable. Alas, examples of its potential for harm are also haunting and are no longer limited to the risk of nuclear annihilation.

Two thousand years before the birth of modern science, Socrates argued that the person who was best equipped to cure a disease was also most capable of spreading one, and so began a conversation still under way: How can the increasingly vast powers of science be guided toward the solution of human problems and kept from aggravating them?

Certificate Description

After a cornerstone course that explores this philosophical question (and others related to it), the Certificate in Engineering, Science, and Society leads students into courses that will help them to become engaged with contemporary issues regarding the promotion, use, and possible risks of engineering and applied science.

What are, for example, the likely benefits and risks of genetic engineering? If using ethanol to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels has many advantages, what disadvantages would accompany its widespread use, and how might they be mitigated? How can engineering advances help to resist tendencies toward world-wide environmental degradation? What role should engineers play in the formulation of the policies that will govern the relationship between science and contemporary American society?

These are the sort of questions that will be pursued in the 15 credit hours required to complete the certificate.


The certificate is co-directed by Wayne Ambler, Associate Professor in the Herbst Program of Humanities for Engineers.


To begin the certificate, students must:

  • Be in good standing in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and
  • Complete a certificate enrollment form and contract with Wayne Ambler of the Herbst Program of Humanities. The contract will map the student's expected progress through the requirements of the Certificate and thus encourages advance planning. Changes in the contract are expected and permitted but must be approved and recorded.

Curriculum Requirements

To complete the certificate, students must:

  • Complete the 3-credit survey or "cornerstone" course, HUEN 2210, with a minimum grade of C+;
  • Complete 12 other credits in approved courses (see below), with a minimum grade of C+;
  • Complete 9 of these 12 credits at the 3000-level or above; and
  • Submit a certificate completion form to a director.

Any student who has completed the specified 15 credits in courses approved for this certificate but has not received a minimum grade of C+ in each course will still receive credit for these courses as H&SS electives.

Approved Courses

The list of courses approved for the certificate is provided below. It includes both lower-division and upper-division courses. The list will be reviewed and updated periodically.

  • ANTH 4600: Human Ecology: Cultural Aspects
  • ASEN 3046: Introduction to Humans in Aviation
  • ASTR 4800: Space Science: Practice and Policy
  • ATLS 2000: The Meaning of Information Technology
  • ATOC 4800: Policy Implications of Climate Controversies
  • BAKR 1600: Creating a Sustainable Future
  • CHEN 1000: Creative Technology
  • CVEN 4700: Sustainability and the Built Environment
  • CVEN 5373: Water Law, Policy, and Institutions
  • CVEN 5393: Water Resources Development and Management
  • EBIO 3040: Conservation Biology
  • EBIO 3180: Global Ecology
  • EBIO 4180: Ecological Perspectives on Climate Change
  • ECON 3535/4535: Natural Resource Economics
  • ECON 3545/4545: Environmental Economics
  • ENVD 2001: Social Factors in Environmental Design
  • ENVD 3114: History & Theory of Environmental Design Small Scale: Buildings
  • ENVD 3134: History & Theory of Environmental Design Medium Scale: Precincts
  • ENVS 1000: Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • ENVS 3140: Environmental Ethics
  • ENVS 3621: Energy Policy and Society
  • ENVS 5000: Policy, Science, and the Environment
  • ENVS 5810/7810: Climate, Water Resources, and Environmental Sustainability
  • ENVS 5820/7820: Renewable Energy Policy
  • GEEN 1100: Social Impact of Technology
  • GEEN 3300: Sustainability Ethics and Practice
  • GEOG 3402: Natural Hazards
  • GEOG 3412: Conservation Practice and Resource Management
  • GEOG 3422: Conservation Thought
  • GEOG 4430: Conservation Trends
  • GEOG 4501/5501: Water Resources and Water Management of Western US
  • GEOG 5772: Sustainable Development: Institutions and Policy
  • GEOL 3500: Mineral Resources, World Affairs, and the Environment
  • GEOL 3520/ENVS 3520: Environmental Issues in Geosciences
  • GEOL 4080: Societal Problems and Earth Sciences
  • HIST 4267: U.S. Mining West
  • HIST 4326: Health and Disease in the U.S.
  • HIST 4417: Environmental History of North America
  • HUEN 1100: History of Science and Technology
  • HUEN 1850: Engineering in History: The Social Impact of Technology.
  • HUEN 2020: The Meaning of Information Technology
  • HUEN 2100: History of Science & Technology to Newton
  • HUEN 2120: The History of Modern Science: Newton to Einstein
  • HUEN 2130: History of Modern Technology
  • HUEN 2210: Engineering, Science, and Society
  • HUEN 2843: Special Topics: Leonardo DaVinci and His World
  • HUEN 3843: Special Topics: Ethics of Bioengineering
  • PHIL 1160: Introduction to Bioethics
  • PHIL 1400: Science and Society
  • PHIL 3140: Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 3160: Bioethics
  • PHIL 3200: Social and Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 5210: Philosophy and Social Policy
  • PHIL 5230: Bioethics and Public Policy
  • PHIL 5240: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy
  • PHIL 5290: Topics in Values and Social Policy
  • PHYS 3000: Science and Public Policy
  • PHYS 3070/ENVS 3070: Energy and the Environment
  • PSCI 2101: Introduction to Public Policy
  • PSCI 3064: Environmental Political Theory
  • PSCI 3201: The Environment and Public Policy
  • PSCI 4012: Global Development
  • PSCI 4161: Political Ethics in Policy Analysis
  • PSCI 4711: Selected Policy Problems
  • PSCI 5016: Introduction to the Policy Sciences
  • PSCI 5026: The Problem Orientation
  • PSCI 5036: The Decision Process
  • SOCY 1002: Global Human Ecology
  • SOCY 1003: Ethics and Social Issues in U.S. Health and Medicine
  • SOCY 2077: Environment and Society
  • SOCY 4007: Global Human Ecology
  • SOCY 6007: Foundations of Environmental Society
  • SOCY 5012: Population Issues, Problems, and Policies
  • TLEN 5106: International Telecommunications Policy
  • TLEN 5120: Contemporary Issues in Telecommunications Policy

More Information

For more information, contact Wayne Ambler at 303-492-2009 or email

Important Announcements

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