Science, Technology, and International Affairs Major

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 these challenges and opportunities. STIA students follow the regular SFS core curriculum, complete a science fundamentals sequence, and develop an in depth understanding of a technical area as a concentration. The STIA major can also facilitate pre-medicine and pre-engineering programs.

Goals of the Major

Some of our graduates become scientists and doctors. However, the goal of the major is to create technically informed leaders who engage in some of the most pressing political, social, and ethical issues at the interface of science, technology, and international affairs for the benefit of their organizations, countries, and the world.

STIA majors will:

  • complete a challenging introductory course to build a foundation
  • understand the theory and practice of science through laboratory based science sequence
  • develop expertise in an area of concentration
  • integrate science into the SFS’s core foundation in the liberal arts, ethics, language, and international understanding.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service in Science, Technology, and International Affairs

Courses in the SFS Core requirement serve as foundational requisites of this major.

STIA Major Requirements

  • STIA 305 – Science & Technology in the Global Arena, usually taken in sophomore year (4 credits);
  • Science fundamentals sequence of laboratory based, natural or computer science (see description below);
  • One approved methods course (minimum 3 credits);
  • One STIA senior seminar course (minimum of 3 credits) or the senior honors thesis course sequence (STIA 498/499);
  • Four courses from an area of concentration chosen in consultation with the STIA faculty advisor and STIA Curricular Dean (at least two of these courses must have STIA prefixes).

Science Fundamentals

STIA majors are required to develop a grounding in at least one field of science. The STIA major science fundamentals requirement can be met before or after declaring STIA as a major, although it is strongly recommended that these courses are taken in the first or second year of study. This requirement can be met by taking one of the following foundational sequences of laboratory based, natural or computer science:

  • Biology 103&104 with 113&114 (labs)
  • Chemistry 001&002 with 009&010 (labs) or 055&056 with 057&058 (labs)
  • Physics 101&102 or 151&152 (includes labs)
  • Computer Science 051&052 and COSC 030

Note that AP credit, Science for All courses, Core Pathways science courses and SFS science classes (INAF 100s) do not meet the STIA science prerequisite. Students who have already taken these courses or AP equivalents before coming to Georgetown can request approval to take an upper-level sequence in one of the science departments instead. While natural science classes (bio, chem and physics) that meet the STIA major science requirement meet the SFS and main campus core science requirements, computer science classes do not.

STIA students are strongly encouraged to develop a deeper background in science and technology through additional coursework related to your foundational sequence of science courses. One option is the completion of the courses equivalent to a science minor or other structured sets of course work such as Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medicine, or CyberCorps (more information below).

STIA majors are also required to take one course in research or analytic methods related to STIA disciplines. Examples of courses that meet the methods requirement include INAF 320 Quantitative Methods for International Affairs, ECON 121 Economic Statistics, and STIA 454 Remote Sensing.

STIA Concentration Areas include:

  • Energy and Environment
  • Business, Growth, and Development
  • Biotechnology and Global Health
  • Science, Technology, and Security

In special cases where a student has a particular interest not reflected in the current STIA concentrations, students may apply to the STIA Director to create their own concentration that aligns with their academic goals and interests. This application must include the following: 1) how the proposed concentration will cultivate a deep understanding of a STIA relevant topic; 2) the reason for the student’s interest; 3) proposed courses that would constitute the concentration; and 4) a faculty member who will act as the advisor and mentor. Before applying, students must speak to the potential STIA advisor for guidance.

Study Abroad

STIA students are strongly encouraged to spend meaningful time abroad.  STIA requirements mean that coursework should be carefully planned so students are encouraged to speak early and often with their STIA faculty adviser and STIA Curricular Dean to plan coursework and discuss the most relevant opportunities to spend time abroad.

Honors in the Major

Selection of honors candidates is based on evaluation of proposals submitted during the spring semester of junior year.

In order to graduate with honors in STIA, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and a grade point average in the major of 3.67 by the date of graduation.
  • Successfully complete the two semester Honors seminar series in Science Technology and International Affairs (STIA 498 & 499)
  • Present the senior thesis before a committee of faculty members and peers during the spring semester.

Writing in the 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 Arena.  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.

Complementary Programs

Some students combine the STIA major with programs in business, CyberCorp, Pre-Medicine, or Columbia’s 3-2 Engineering program. Students who wish to combine a STIA major with any complementary program with structured course requirements should discuss their plans with the STIA Curricular Dean for assistance in course planning. These programs complement the STIA experience but require careful planning.

Additional information on STIA and required coursework can be found on the STIA website.

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