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Student Spotlight: Sociology Major Discusses Her Minor in STS


March 16, 2018

Data science major Laurel Vaughan interviewed Stephanie Oppenheim, a sociology major with minors in political science and science, technology and society, about her decision to minor in STS.

Drexel Student Stephanie Oppenheim

LV: Why did you choose to minor in science, technology and society?

SO: I chose to minor in STS because its interdisciplinary approach complemented my sociology major and political science minor. I have sought out new and unusual learning opportunities, starting with my unconventional schooling, from a French school to an international experiential learning school and a pre-conservatory art school. STS offers a challenging, innovative approach to contemporary life. When I learned about STS, I wanted to be a part of the program and benefit from the exposure to different fields of study that I would otherwise have not known about.

LV: How did you hear about the STS minor?

SO: Dr. Joyce talked about it in her Sociology 101 class. I also heard about it from her during my STAR Scholarship in my freshman year. She was one of the professors who assisted me with my undergraduate research project on the racialization of HIV/AIDS in the media.

LV: What has your most challenging STS class been?

SO: Technology & Politics and Medicine, Science & Technology challenged me the most and led me to declare an STS minor. With Technology & Politics, I was fascinated by the concept of “technological somnambulism”; it points out how we have become blind to the societal impact of using technology and technological innovation. It also highlights how people relate to current technologies. Medicine, Science & Technology taught me to analyze and scrutinize our common misconceptions about medical technologies. It provoked a healthy skepticism that strengthened my ability to ask questions such as: What kind of implications can this technology have? Who is its target audience? Who benefits and who loses from a particular medical technology or clinical practice?

LV: What are thinking of doing after you graduate?

SO: I would like to go into health law in the future, and it very much draws from the STS interdisciplinary framework. STS requires critical thinking, which is essential to a successful law career. Specifically in health law, I want to be able to understand emerging medical technologies and the implications they have on policy and the private sector, as well as on the individual patient level.

LV: Do you think it is important for Drexel to have an STS program?

SO: Drexel is a predominantly STEM school with a co-op program, and STS is integral to the success of its students. STS helps students understand the implications of their research and innovations. Bridging the gap between STEM fields and the social sciences will impact the kinds of the research that comes out of Drexel, making for more informed, socially aware students.

LV: What advice do have to give for those coming into Drexel?

SO: My parting advice is, “The STS framework applies to anything you do.”