Science, Technology, and Society!

December 6, 2015

We’re excited to see you submitting Intent Forms! Keep ’em coming! With the holidays just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to delve into your project and polish up your submission before the upcoming deadlines.

In the meantime, here are some quick reminders:

Go over the Application Handbook and last year’s winning entries to get a better feel for ways you can convey your project through your submission materials. Remember that there will be no exceptions to competition rules. Pay extra attention to the names of the files you submit – they must include your project ID and follow the specified format.

Now, the focus of this post - What exactly is the Science, Technology and Society (STS) category?

For INSPIRE, STS refers to the study of the intersection of science and engineering with culture, politics, economics, morality, and other societal concepts. Put another way, it could imply “the history of science”, but the category actually extends far beyond that (see the list of subtopics).

For example,

  • Science and Warfare – Galileo and Cannons
  • Industrial Revolution Technologies in American Culture
  • Communicating Science – Rhetoric in Scientific Literature
  • Rachel Carson and Silent Spring
  • Public Policy and Science
  • Newtonian Culture and Economy

Your INSPIRE project should be less focused on direct and technical inquiry into a specific scientific, engineering, technological, or mathematical topic but more about the impact of such science or technology on society (or vice versa – the impact of some societal aspect on a particular scientific or technological phenomenon).

Perhaps the following examples will help clarify what we mean:

Project that is NOT considered STS

Project that IS considered STS

Investigating a particular molecular pathway involved in cancer

An examination of how a particular cancer drug has transformed the economics of the pharmaceutical industry

Deconstructing the chemical composition of an organic compound through structural and synthetic analysis

Legislation regarding the regulation of biofuel production in the United States   

A computational framework for understanding the two-body problem of general relativity

The social implications of Einstein’s special relativity during and post World War II

If you’re seeking more information about STS, you may want to check out this page and glance through some of the publications.

Remember, if you are repurposing your project from other competitions, be sure that it meets INSPIRE’s category requirements and rules.

As always, we are here to answer any questions.

Wishing you a productive holiday! 

~ The MIT INSPIRE Team