Science, Technology and International Affairs
Now more than ever, science and technology are at the heart of international affairs. The Science, Technology and International Affairs (STIA) major equips students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to engage with the challenges and opportunities this presents. Students follow the regular SFS core curriculum, enroll in core science courses and develop an in depth understanding of one of our areas of concentration: Energy and Environment; Business, Growth and Development; Biotechnology and Health; or Science, Technology and Security. Pre-med and pre-engineering options are possible.
Goals of the Major
While some of our graduates become scientists and doctors, the goal of the major is to create informed leaders who can engage with technology and take informed, ethical actions for the benefit of their companies and organizations, their countries and the world.
The major does this by helping its students:
- complete a challenging introductory course that sets the stage for the major,
- study in depth issues in one of the major’s four concentrations,
- understand scientific methods, gain the confidence to work directly with science and technology scholarship, and round out a liberal arts education through a set of science, computer science and quantitative methods courses. STIA is the only major in SFS to require science courses. And,
- apply in everything they do the liberal arts training, ethical approaches, language requirements, and international perspectives from the regular core curriculum of the School of Foreign.
Students have the opportunity to take classes from core STIA faculty and are required to choose one as their Faculty Advisor.
STIA is not based on an academic discipline but rather a mindset. As a result, the distinguished STIA faculty are some of the most academically diverse in the School of Foreign Service. Each has an active, accomplished research program as evidenced by their hundreds of published articles, chapters and books.
But beyond formal academics, the STIA faculty also bring a wide range of real world experience to their teaching and advising. They have served as climate negotiators and White House advisors and received patents for their telecommunications technologies. They have founded NGOs to improve healthcare and technology access for the poor and helped lead the largest agricultural water research center in the world. They are Fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. One operated the Mars Rover and another negotiated nuclear weapons agreements.
Meet the STIA Core Faculty.
In addition to our regular faculty, STIA students also have access to a range of affiliated Georgetown faculty who appreciate the STIA mindset, especially welcome STIA students to their classes, and can serve as advisors on Honors theses and in other capacities.
Science and technology change rapidly and practitioners bring practical perspectives, knowledge and networks that regular academics cannot. STIA students benefit from the body of dedicated Adjunct Faculty we draw from our Washington, D.C. location. All STIA Adjuncts are active professionals in their fields of expertise, and many have dedicated years to the program. Examples include one of the most senior polar scientists in the U.S. government, an executive at a prominent cyber-security company, a medical doctor working at the front lines of Ebola and MERS, an international ocean policy expert from National Geographic, and members of the intelligence community.
Requirements for the STIA Major (Class of 2018 and Beyond)
All STIA majors must complete a minimum 12 courses in the major including:
- STIA 305 – Science ,Technology, in the Global Arena (to be taken in the sophomore year)
- Two Lab Science/technology courses taken from biology, chemistry, physics or approved computer sciences, preferably by the end of the sophomore year
- One approved mathematics or related quantitative course
- One approved research or analytic methods course
- Six courses chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor and Curricular Dean from an area of concentration. At least two courses should have STIA prefixes. Two may be additional science, computer science or math courses. STIA’s concentrations, their faculty leaders, some of the topics they allow students to explore:
Energy and Environment: Climate change and geosciences, the transition to a new energy economy, global food supply and the water crisis. Faculty Leader, Professor Joanna Lewis
Business, Growth, and Development: Transformative technologies and international competitiveness, innovation policy from Wall Street to nation-states, information technologies in development; technology and entrepreneurship. Faculty Leader, Professor Mark Giordano
Biotechnology and Global Health: The biotechnology revolution, emerging infectious disease, technology’s role in health care systems and health equity. Faculty Leader, Professor Emily Mendenhall
Science, Technology, and Security: nuclear proliferation, low and high tech terrorism, cyber security and cyber warfare. Space and aerospace, technology in military strategy. Faculty Leader, Professor Kathryn Olesko
- A STIA Senior Capstone Course or Honors Thesis.
As noted above, students, particularly pre-med students, wishing to take up to two additional science classes may do so as part of their concentration requirements in consultation with their advisors. See below for additional information on pre-med and pre-engineering.
Honors in the Major
Selection of honors candidates is based on a research proposal to be submitted in the Spring of the junior year, meeting minimum grade point requirements of 3.5 overall and 3.67 within STIA at the time of graduation, and successfully completing a thesis on an approved topic judged to be of honors quality by a faculty committee.
For more details, contact the STIA Director or the current Director of the Honors Program.
The STIA faculty strongly encourages students to spend meaningful time abroad. STIA requirements mean that course work must be carefully planned to facilitate time away from campus. Students are encouraged to speak early and often with their Curricular Dean and Faculty Advisor to plan course work and find the most personally meaningful study abroad programs.
The STIA major provides a natural option within the School of Foreign Service for students with an international outlook and in interest in the practice of medicine.
Students can complete most of the pre-med requirements as part of their STIA degree. However, because of the rigor of both STIA and Pre-Med, students must work closely with their STIA faculty mentor, the GU Pre-Med Committee and the STIA Curricular Dean to ensure that all curriculum requirements are met through regular and summer classes.
Recent STIA graduates have been admitted to top medical schools including Georgetown, Columbia, John Hopkins, NYU, and Emory. Past graduates are practicing physicians and global health practitioners around the world.
The STIA major also provides a natural option for SFS students to pursue a career in engineering. An engineering degree is available to Georgetown students through a 3-2 program with Columbia University.
Students can complete most of the pre-engineering requirements as part of their STIA degree. Because of the rigor and requirements of both programs, students must work closely with their STIA faculty mentor and the STIA Curricular Dean to ensure that all curriculum requirements for are met. Summer coursework is typically needed to meet some engineering requirements.
Acceptance to the engineering program requires a separate application through Columbia.
Writing in the STIA Major
A core part of the STIA major is learning how to translate science to non-science decision-making. Students must learn to think critically and communicate what they learn effectively. This requires being able to formulate meaningful questions, find information that will inform questions, evaluate information sources, effectively synthesize and analyze information, and present findings to varied audiences.
STIA students are expected to gain experience in discussion and debate, oral presentation, and of course advanced level writing. The STIA major seeks to help students build these communication competencies throughout the curriculum. There are three primary components of the major that focus specifically on writing:
- All STIA majors are required to take STIA-305/Intro to Science and, Technology in the Global By taking this gateway course, students move beyond the fundamentals of academic writing gained in SFS core courses and make progress in evaluating primary and secondary sources and communicating science to non-scientists.
- All STIA classes are expected to have at least one written assignment. Most classes have multiple writing assignments ranging from literature reviews to research proposals and full research papers to policy briefs, professional blogs and opinion pieces.
- All STIA majors are required to complete either a STIA Senior Seminar or the STIA Honors Thesis Seminar. By completing this course, students are expected to generate original research questions, devise plans to test and prove their findings and present a convincing hypothesis to a diverse audience through a significant writing assignment.
To find the most up to date list of classes, as well as past semester course lists, visit MyAccess > Student Services > Registration > Schedule of Classes > Select Term > In the subject menu, select Science, Technology, and Intl Af > Scroll down and click Class Search button