The major program in Science in Society has three components: science courses, SISP courses, and an area of concentration. Those students whose area of concentration is one of the sciences must complete a major in that science as part of the requirements for their SISP major. 

All majors must also participate in the SISP Assessment Program, by submitting an initial statement of their goals in the Program when first declaring the major, and a self-assessment of what they have accomplished and learned in the Program during their final semester. For details about this requirement, see our official statement under Learning Goals and Assessment

I. Science Courses

All students are required to take a minimum of four 1-credit major track courses in a single science. The sciences which we accept for this purpose are: Astronomy/Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Physics, Psychology. The laboratory courses associated with introductory science courses do not count toward the four-course requirement. 

N.B. For most students, these science courses must be completed in a single department, to enable them to get beyond the introductory level. For example, one cannot satisfy this requirement by taking one year of Chemistry and one year of Biology, but must take 4 courses in EITHER one. There are three kinds of exceptions to this policy. First, students who do their science in Biology, MB&B, Neuroscience, or Psychology may take courses under more than one departmental designation, so long as all four of the courses that they count toward the SISP major are cross-listed in one of those departments. Second, there are some variations permitted for students who do their science courses in Astronomy or E&ES. Students who do their science courses in Astronomy or Physics may count Physics 113, 116, along with Astronomy 155 and either one upper-level ASTR course or one higher-level Physics credit toward the requirement.  Students who do their science in E&ES may count a year of Chemistry, E&ES 197 or 199, and a 200-level E&ES course OR a year of Biology, E&ES 197 or 199, and an upper-level Biology course in Ecology or Conservation Biology. Third, students who do their science courses in Computer Science should take COMP 211 and 212, and two other upper-level COMP courses (but MATH 228 can also count for one of these upper-level courses).

II. Science in Society Courses

All students are required to take a minimum of six credits in courses listed at the 200- or 300-level in the Program, of which three must satisfy specific requirements in History of Science, Philosophy of Science, and Sociocultural Studies of Science and three additional courses in the program (including at least one 300-level seminar). Individual or group tutorials, including senior thesis, normally cannot count toward the 6-credit requirement within SISP. 

Among the six (6) required courses for the major that must be listed or cross-listed within the Science in Society Program, three (3) of these are subject to more specific constraints, and 3 are electives that can be fulfilled by any course listed or cross-listed in SISP at the 200 or 300 level so long as the student takes at least one elective at the 300 level. The distribution requirements for courses in the history of science, philosophy of science, or sociocultural studies of science serve specific purposes for the major by providing important theoretical background in interdisciplinary science and technology studies and can only be satisfied by specific courses that the Chair has approved for these purposes. Not all courses cross listed between SISP and History, Philosophy, Sociology or Anthropology will fulfill these requirements. An updated list of the courses that satisfy these specific requirements and their rationale is maintained below. 

HISTORY OF SCIENCE (students are encouraged but not required to take a history course emphasizing the sciences they have studied for their science requirement). Courses that meet this requirement aim to provide students with a broader historical understanding of the sciences, medicine, and technology. They should attend specifically to questions of how to think historically about the sciences, medicine, and technologies, and/or and have some breadth to their thematic and/or temporal orientation. Many of the courses that meet these requirements are more specifically focused on one or more scientific fields, and students are encouraged but not required to enroll in a history of science course that coordinates with their own scientific background.

SISP 221   History of Ecology

SISP 254   Science in Western Culture

SISP 253   Science and/as Literature in Early Modern England

SISP 255   Seeing a Bigger Picture: Integrating Environmental History and Visual Studies

SISP 259   Discovering the Person

SISP 285   History of Science and Technology in Modern China

SISP 287   Science in Modernity and After

STS 357    AI, Algorithms, and Power 

N.B. 100-level FYI (First Year Initiative) courses in history of science do not currently satisfy this requirement, nor do they count as electives for the major. 

PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Courses that meet this requirement are primarily focused upon the epistemic and conceptual norms that govern scientific inquiry and the ways these normative issues are taken up in scientific practice. These courses also often provide conceptual links between students’ science courses and their work in other areas of the program. Some of these courses are focused on normative concerns that are distinctive to particular scientific disciplines, such as psychology, the life sciences, or medicine and other health sciences.

SISP 202   Philosophy of Science

SISP 214   Humans, Animals, and Nature

SISP 220   Human Nature

SISP 286   Philosophy of Mind (Open to STS students whose science courses are in Psychology)

SOCIOCULTURAL STUDIES OF SCIENCE. Courses that meet this requirement both address a wide range of scientific, medical, and or technological practices as social and cultural phenomenon and provide a theoretical background from interdisciplinary science studies for how to investigate such practices. These courses specify the ways that science, medicine, and technologies belong to and mutually interact with other social institutions or cultural practices.

STS 201    Critical Global Health

SISP 205   Sciences as Social and Cultural Practices

STS 208    Technologies of Time

SISP 210   Feminist Technoscience: Making Bodies, Bits, and Bombs 

SISP 215   Metabolism and Technoscience

STS 250    Sociology of Knowledge 

SISP 256   Race and Medicine in America

SISP 262   Cultural Studies of Health

SISP 265   Anthropology of Science

A second approved course in the History of Science (see above list) will also satisfy this requirement. 

III. Area of Concentration

Option 1: Students may fulfill their area of concentration in a science by completing a major in that science (the first four courses satisfy their science requirement; the remainder count as their area of concentration).

Option 2: Students may fulfill their area of concentration by taking three courses in any of the following areas as specified below:

ANTHROPOLOGY:  EITHER ANTH 101 OR one course the from "Crafting Ethnography" concentration within the department; two relevant upper-level electives, at least one of which must be at the 300-level. In planning this concentration with their adviser, students should note that ANTH 101 can be a pre-requisite for certain upper level courses and plan accordingly.

FEMINIST, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY STUDIES: FGSS 209 and two other courses approved by the adviser.  One FGSS Gateway course may normally be included in the concentration.

HISTORY: Students are encouraged to work with their adviser to devise a coherent concentration in History.  The three courses for the concentration must include at least one Seminar (either a Sophomore Seminar, or an Advanced Seminar), and should normally be taken within a single field (e.g., AALA, United States, Europe, Intellectual, Gender, Religion, etc.). History concentrators must also include a second course in the History of Science among their SiSP couses.

PHILOSOPHY (metaphysics and epistemology):  PHIL 202 (Philosophical Classics II), one intermediate level "Mind and Reality" course, and a third course approved by the adviser.). 100-level courses do not count toward this concentration.

PHILOSOPHY (ethics and political philosophy): Three courses in ethics or political philosophy (numbered 211-230, 266-285 or 331-360).  With permission of your adviser, a course in political theory in the Government Department may be counted toward this concentration.

RELIGION: Three courses, one each drawn from the Religion Department’s classification of courses as addressing “Method and Theory,” “Thematic Approaches,” and “Historical Traditions.”  Other appropriate courses may be substituted with adviser’s permission.  RELI 151 can count toward the concentration as a “Method and Theory” course.

SOCIOLOGY: SOC 151 and two additional courses approved by the adviser.  Many students find it helpful to take some courses cross-listed with SiSP for their sociology concentration, but must then take other SiSP courses as electives for the Program.

Important Program Policies

Courses that are cross-listed between SISP and a student's Area of Concentration department may be counted for either requirement, but not for both simultaneously. 

Education-in-the-Field, Individual Tutorials, Group Tutorials, Senior Theses, and other independent study formats are not normally accepted toward the five required courses in SISP itself. Students are strongly encouraged not to include more than one such course in their Area of Concentration. 

Study Abroad 

Many SISP students go abroad for a semester as a junior. Students can normally count only one course from study abroad toward the six required courses in SISP, although some students also get credit for science courses or toward their area of concentration. Students should email the chair of SISP with requests to have student abroad courses count towards their SISP major.  

Transfer Credit 

Courses may be transferred from other institutions to replace one of the Science in Society requirements, but we review these requests very stringently, and we only accept courses clearly equivalent in level and field to courses we would accept at Wesleyan. 


Neither thesis tutorials nor independent tutorials can count toward the six courses in the program that are part of the major requirements. 

For more information on SISP Honors Theses see https:/ 

Capstone Experience 

The Science in Society Program offers three options for students seeking a senior capstone experience for their work in the major: 

  • All students are required to take one or more 300-level seminars in the program. These courses, on a wide range of topics, each with a term paper or other independent research component, provide many opportunities for what can become capstone projects, and students are encouraged to choose their seminar courses and their research topics in those courses with this possibility in mind. 
  • Students with a suitable topic and faculty sponsor have an option of writing a senior thesis, which can lead to departmental honors for those eligible. Students interested in undertaking a thesis will be expected to submit a thesis prospectus in the spring semester of their junior year. For further information  see