The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Science, Technology and Society

The fields of science and technology are changing rapidly and seem to have a growing impact on nearly every aspect of our lives today, from the ways that private citizens and governments use computers to how we handle climate change. Because these topics directly affect so much of our society, it is crucial that policy makers are informed of the latest cutting-edge science and technology research in order to consider ways to most effectively use it for the public good. SPP faculty are internationally recognized leaders when it comes to how science and technology influence society.


  • Technology, Power and Governance (political science)
  • Information Technology for the Public and Nonprofit Sectors (SPP)
  • Geographic Information Systems (SPP)
  • Social Inequalities, Technology and Public Policy (SPP)
  • Social Biology (anthropology)
  • Transportation Planning and Policy Analysis (civil and environmental engineering)
  • Technology and Educational Change (education)
  • Critical Approaches: History Science (history)
  • Public Health Informatics (public health)
  • Communication Policy (SPP)
  • Information Management in the New Economy (management)
  • Society of Knowledge (sociology)
  • Human Ecology (sociology)


Examples of SPP faculty research in the area of science, technology and society include:

  • Jane Fountain directs the National Center for Digital Government and has served as chair and vice chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government. She also sits on Gov. Deval Patrick’s Council for Innovation, an appointed body that advises the governor on ways to improve government efficiency and use technology to streamline delivery of services to people, businesses and local governments.
  • Martha Fuentes-Bautista’s most recent work explores rural Massachusetts communities’ access to high-speed internet technology. She is very interested in the role that media technologies play in social stratification.
  • Krista Harper is a cultural anthropologist who uses participatory digital and visual research methods in her fieldwork. Her most recent book, Participatory Visual and Digital Methodologies, which she co-authored with Aline Gubrium, was published by Left Coast Press in April 2013.
  • Charles Schweik’s research both relies upon and focuses on shared technologies. In a project funded by the USDA Forest Service, Schweik is working to get “citizen scientists” to report valuable data about invasive plants and pests, through a free smartphone app. His first book, Internet Success: A Study of Open-Source Software Commons, examined why some open-source endeavors thrive and others fail. The Center for Digital Education named him one of the top 50 innovators in education in 2012.

Additional Science, Technology and Society Initiatives