Non-Academic Careers for STS Graduate Students: A Workshop Report

Authors:Foley, Rider, Department of Engineering and SocietyUniversity of Virginia ORCID icon, Thomas, Technology and SocietyState University of New York––Stony Brook Harsh, Matthem, Centre for Engineering in SocietyConcordia University

Science, Technology & Society (STS ) graduate programs primarily train graduate students to work in academic jobs. Unfortunately, like many STEM fields, there are not enough academic jobs to match the supply of STS graduate students, nor does every STS graduate student want to become an academic. While this situation is not entirely recent, graduate students still do not receive adequate training or mentorship for careers outside of academia. Studies have shown that from 1998 to 2008, there was a 40% growth in the number of PhD in the world, and in high income countries like the USA, academia and industry have not been able to fully utilize all the PhDs (Cyranoski et al. 2011). Additionally, STS scholars, whose training spans sociology, anthropology, public policy, history and philosophy, are not aware of the value placed on their expertise in other sectors like industry, not for profit organizations, or government agencies. Thus, there is a critical need to introduce STS graduate students to careers outside of academia and expand their horizons to the available employment opportunities. In the absence of such training on the diversity of career options, there will continue to be far more STS graduates seeking academic positions than there are academic jobs. Not only is this leading to the disillusionment of STS graduate students and hurting the field, but it is also preventing STS from having a large impact outside of academia.

Non-academic careers, workshop report
University of Virginia
Published Date:
June 18, 2019
Sponsoring Agency:
National Science Foundation

There are a few people that worked to support these two workshops. The first was Renee Blackburn, who finished her dissertation in the weeks preceding the August 2017 workshop. Also, Ariel Ludwig and Maria Douglass, co-chairs of ST Global 2018, were very instrumental in the second panel. We also wish to acknowledge the panelists that took time to travel and serve in this capacity and for their genuine and authentic exchanges with the audience and each other. The authors would like to thank all the workshop participants and audience members at the symposia that shared their stories and engaged in a really positive dialog. Furthermore, we are grateful to the NSF-STS program that funded this effort (NSF Award #1748671). The findings and observations contained in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.