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 2843, 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 six lower-division courses plus numerous upper-division courses. Our expectation is that more courses will be added to this list in the coming year.

ASTR 4800: Space Science: Practice and Policy
ATOC 4800: Policy Implications of Climate Controversies
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
ENVS 1000: Introduction to Environmental Studies
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,
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.
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: TPC: Leonardo DaVinci and His World
PHIL 1400: Philosophy and the Sciences
PHIL 3160: Bioethics
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 3201: The Environment and Public Policy
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 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

CUEngineering is here!
The 2014 edition of CUEngineering magazine is hot off the press! Check it out online.

Don't forget summer session!
CEAS courses don't slow down over the summer - choose from 58 undergraduate and graduate engineering courses during Maymester and sessions A-D, May 12-Aug. 8.

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