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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 lab science 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 a 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.
Courses in the SFS Core requirement serve as foundational requisites of this major.
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, MATH 040 Probability and Statistics, ECON 121 Economic Statistics, and STIA 454 Remote Sensing.
STIA majors must complete the following courses:
- STIA 305 – Science & Technology in the Global Arena, should be taken in the sophomore year (4 credits)
- Four courses from an area of concentration (at least two of these courses must have STIA prefixes)
- One STIA Senior Seminar course or the STIA Honors Thesis course sequence
STIA fundamentals courses should be chosen in consultation with the STIA faculty advisor and STIA Curricular Dean.
- 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.
While not mandatory, 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 the 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 (STIA 498 & 499)
- Present the senior thesis in an oral defense before a committee of faculty members and peers during the spring semester.
Information for current and prospective honors students is available in the STIA Honors Program Information Packet. Georgetown’s library keeps a repository of student theses for students who choose to post their completed theses there.
Honors students are eligible for STIA-supported funding to assist with approved travel and research expenses, and are also encouraged to apply for supplemental funding. For more information see Student Research Opportunities.
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: 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 elective 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. 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 or the equivalent.
STIA majors are encouraged to simultaneously pursue minors that will enhance their scientific and technical training. As a result, STIA majors in the Class of 2022 forward who decide to concurrently pursue a minor in Georgetown College in either biology, chemistry, physics or computer science can count the STIA science fundamentals requirement listed above as a co-requirement to the major so that they can be applied toward the completion of the minor. This means that up to two courses in biology, chemistry, and physics and up to three courses in computer science that qualify for the STIA science fundamentals requirement are eligible to count as co-requirements for the STIA major and be applied towards the minor. For more information on minor requirements see the associated minor webpages administered through Georgetown College.
Some students combine the STIA major with programs in business, CyberCorp, Pre-Medicine, or Columbia’s 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.
Georgetown University offers a 3-2 Combined Plan joint degree in partnership with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. Columbia’s program, the first dual-degree engineering program instituted in the United States, is designed to provide students with the opportunity to receive both a B.A. (or other bachelor’s) degree from Georgetown and a B.S. degree from Columbia Engineering in five years. More information on the dual-degree program is available here.
Several Georgetown master’s programs offer an accelerated degree option for currently enrolled undergraduate students. Please contact the programs for more details.