Sociotechnical Systems Engineering is a unique education program for the degree of Master of Science in Engineering at Uppsala University. The program, which started in fall 2000, is interdisciplinary and combines science and technology with studies in humanities and social science. The focus of the program is systems/networks seen from a holistic perspective. The program is of totally 5 years. One third of the content is courses in humanities and social science and two thirds are traditional engineering courses with focus on control theory and systems.
Today technology is getting more and more integrated into larger technical systems or networks. Two examples are IT systems and energy systems, but development towards larger systems also takes place within other technical areas. Companies act from within a network structure and the consumers' use of technology more and more becomes dependent on systems. Conditions for development within these technical systems not only are set by technical
abilities. A number of social, historical and cultural conditions have a large impact on how technology works and develops. In a large technical system a number of different aspects concerning science, social science and humanities are so intertwined that we prefer to talk about sociotechnical systems.
The goal of the program is that the student should obtain an interdisciplinary understanding of how technology is developed and used, and of how technical systems are both formed by, and form societal development and human conditions. Another goal is that the student shall obtain knowledge in and be able to use methodology from both natural science/engineering and humanities/social science.
The study program aims at preparing the students for active participation in technology development, which seeks for integrated solutions, based on technical system demands and at the same time taking social, economic and environmental factors into consideration.
The courses in humanities and social science include courses in business, economic development historically as well as geographically, philosophy of science and history of science and technology, all based on Science and Technology Studies. The overall theme for the programme is “systems”. The engineering part of the programme aims at giving the students extensive training in modeling, analysis, simulation and control of complex, dynamic systems/networks, whether these are technical, or social. Probability and stochastic modeling are used as tools in focus on risks and analysing risks from different point of view, as technical, human, and social.
During the third year, the student chooses a profile within for example IT systems or energy systems, and does a B.S. thesis. During the fourth year he or she does a B.A. thesis within one of the humanities or social science fields, as well as a continuation within the technical area of choice.
After three years the student obtains a B.S. in technology, after four years a B.A. in Sociotechnical systems, and after five years a Master of Science in Sociotechnical Systems Engineering. The programme also differs from the traditional engineering education in the aspects of content, structure and pedagogical forms.
A list of courses can be found here.
For more information, please contact the coordinator of the program Elisabet Andrésdóttir (firstname.lastname@example.org), or explore the program’s website (www.stsprogrammet.nu, only available in Swedish).