Audrey Bonn ’16, a graduate of Butler’s Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program, puts her degree to use to its fullest every day. 

Bonn is currently the Patient Communications Coordinator for Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis. Her job responsibilities include managing outpatient communications and performing an analysis on the productivity of the messages that she sends. 

“I try to find a correlation between appointment reminder messages and whether or not a patient will show up for their appointment,” Bonn said. “Being an STS major helped to prepare me for this job because I was taught to look at situations critically, think outside the box, and not just assume that what appears on the surface gives the whole story.” 

Bonn says her favorite part of the STS curriculum was the opportunity she had to consistently study thought-provoking topics, which helped her broaden her worldview. The program allowed her to use the skills from her major and become a problem-solver in her field—a true critical thinker. 

“The vast majority of our assignments required us to analyze topics and propose educated solutions for issues that we studied,” she said. “I use this in my job not only when I am trying to find correlations between two things, but also when I am trying to brainstorm new campaigns that would help solve some of the hospital’s problems.” 

Students in STS are equipped with an understanding of how our world is transformed and challenged by science and technology. The program examines the interaction between science and technology and our health, families, communities, and environment. The curriculum builds on students’ problem-solving and communication skills.

It also places an emphasis on the STEM Disciplines— Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These academic disciplines are being taught in middle schools and high schools and have increased in prominence over the last eight to 10 years both nationally and globally. 

Carmen Salsbury is the Director of the Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies program, which is the overarching program that the STS major falls under. Salsbury says the STS program has grown exponentially. The first 10 years of its existence saw only about 15 majors. The program now sees consistently around 50 majors. 

Now more than ever, Salsbury says that there is a need to understand science and society given the decline of our environment and the struggle to acquire resources globally, which could be why the STS major has become so popular. 

The major is also highly customizable to what students are interested in. Students are required to take 30 credit hours of coursework—12 hours of STS core courses and 18 hours of STS elective courses from across campus. This curriculum allows students to explore a wide variety of interests. 

Kellie Dominick ’17, an STS major, says she enjoys this aspect of the curriculum because she does not feel the pressure to commit to a single career path. “My current plan is to work in hospital administration, but the great thing about STS is that if I realize that it’s not for me, there are also different paths I can take,” she said. 

There is also an increasing demand for non-scientists who have some training with science and technology and who also have an understanding of the institutions of science and their place in modern society. This kind of background is at the core at the STS curriculum, which is why Butler students are finding success in careers and entrepreneurial opportunities outside of the traditional sciences employment tracts. 

Students in the program have gone on to pursue careers not only in science and technology, but also in health, education, law, public policy, and communications. 

Salsbury says that because the curriculum is interdisciplinary, it forces students to look at issues from many different directions, like Bonn does in her role at Eskenazi. She says it’s a skill that takes practice and experience, but is highly valued by employers. 

The major also stresses the importance of communication as an underlying skill needed for success across the board. “This major strongly emphasizes the ability to communicate, whether in writing or speaking, because to understand all of these issues is nothing if you can’t communicate effectively.” 

Salsbury is confident that this versatile set of tools acquired in the STS program will serve them well in postgraduate life. “In the end,” she said, “I think graduates of the STS program end up with a pretty powerful skill set.”