Science in Society Program

The Science in Society Program is a dynamic interdisciplinary major that examines the study of the sciences, medicine and technology as integral to society and culture. The sciences, medicine, and technology affect almost every facet of our lives: our bodies, daily routines, physical surroundings, self-understanding, intellectual life, economic prospects, and political possibilities. Scientific work has affected people’s intellectual standards, cultural meanings, political possibilities, economic capacities, and physical surroundings. Scientific research has also acquired significance, direction, authority, and application within various social and cultural contexts. To understand the sciences as human achievements is, in significant part, to understand the world in which we live. 

Students in the program should gain a better understanding of the richness and complexity of scientific practice and of the cultural and political significance of science, medicine, and technology. The major is well suited for students interested in a variety of professional and academic pursuits after graduation, since it encourages students to integrate technical scientific knowledge with a grasp of the historical and cultural setting within which it is understood and used. Our students explore the history, philosophy, and social studies of science and medicine together with advanced work in a science, to prepare themselves for a world that respects no clear boundary between nature and culture. 

Faculty Spotlight

Natalie Shibley

Natalie Shibley is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Science in Society. She is writing a manuscript about race, homosexuality investigations, and notions of disease in the U.S. military from the 1940s to 1990s. Her research has been supported by the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Cornell University Library, the Society for the History of Navy Medicine, and the University of Pennsylvania Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program, among other sources. In 2018, Shibley won the Du Bois-Wells Graduate Student Paper Prize from the African American Intellectual History Society for her paper, “‘Not fit material for anyone to print’: Race, Respectability, and Military Homosexuality Investigations, 1945-1950.” She is also working with Dorothy Roberts and Eram Alam on an edited volume, Ordering the Human: Global Science and Racial Reason. 

Shibley was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program on Race, Science, and Society at the University of Pennsylvania and an Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellow of the Penn Medicine and the Afterlives of Slavery project. She co-organized the 2019 “Penn and Slavery” Symposium, which brought together scholars, students, and community members to discuss Penn’s relationship to the institution of slavery and its legacies. She has also been a member of the New-York Historical Society Center for Women’s History Early Career Workshop and was selected to participate in an NEH Summer Institute, “Digital Methods for Military History.” You can read her public scholarship at Nursing Clio and Black Perspectives

Shibley earned a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the first recipient of a joint doctoral degree in Africana Studies and History. She also earned an MA from Penn and a BA from Columbia University.