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Philosophy and Governance of Science and Technology

Choosing this 30 EC package allows students to develop a broad interdisciplinary understanding of how science and technology influence the human being and society, focusing on human behaviour, knowledge and values, and on evaluating and governing social change.

This minor consists of 2 modules, each 15 EC:

  • Philosophy of Science and Technology (Quartile 1A)
  • Governance of Innovation and Socio-Technical Change (Quartile 1B)

The ‘philosophy module’ adds to the ‘governance module’ by providing students with conceptual and ethical frameworks and analytical tools to analyse and assess the interaction between science and technology on the one hand and human beings and society on the other. The ‘governance module’ adds to the 'philosophy module' by providing theoretical frameworks and empirical tools to understand science – technology – society relations in ongoing innovation processes and by showing how these can be used to guide the governance of science and technology. 

The Philosophy of Science and Technology module analyses and evaluates the influence of science and technology on humans and society. Students first will be introduced to the main approaches and theories from the history of philosophy, which enable them to reflect more systematically and critically on science and technology and their social roles. But rather than merely studying the philosophical tradition in itself, or aiming to understand technology in general and the scientific processes that give them rise, this module subsequently aims to develop your skills to analyse specific technologies and technological and scientific practices. We will focus on human-technology relations (for example, how do face recognition influence our understanding of human bodies?), on the views of science underlying current developments like organs-on-a-chip or brain-computer-interfaces, and on the ethical assessment of technological developments (like: should society allows for the new forms of genetic modification of human beings?). The acquired perspectives and insights from philosophy set the stage for the final project. In a so-called Philosophy of Technology Lab you will work in a multidisciplinary team to identify and answer philosophical and ethical questions concerning a specific technology in development.

The module consists of 4 thematic components and a project.

  1. Philosophical Theories and Methods (5 EC) offers a high speed introduction in the history of philosophy and lays a basis for the other components.
  2. Controversies and Uncertainties in Science and Engineering (2 EC) discusses topics from philosophy of science and develops a critical perspective on science and technological development.
  3. Cyborgs and other Human-Technology relations (2 EC) focuses on how technology influences and constitutes human nature and human existence and on how emerging technologies seem to blur the boundaries between humans and machines.
  4. Technology, Ethics and Society (2 EC) focuses on how to assess the ethical and societal desirability of new and emerging technologies and how to analyse ethical controversies these raise. 

In the Project ‘Philosophy of Technology Lab’ students analyse technologies developed by researchers at the University of Twente on the basis of insights gained in philosophy of science, human-technology relations, and ethics. They will also investigate how developments in science and technology may impact philosophical assumptions. 

In the Governance of Innovation and Socio-Technical Change module students learn about typical patterns in innovation processes, how innovations relate to social and technical change, and how policy and other societal actors may actively intervene in these processes. These questions are addressed from an interdisciplinary social science perspective combining insights from science and technology studies, policy studies and history.

This module consists of three thematic components which build on each other. Furthermore students work on a project in which they apply the gained insights to a particular innovation or innovation field.

1. Innovation and Social Change

This thematic component builds the ground by acquainting students with a basic understanding, core concepts and theory on the interrelated dynamics of innovation and social change. This includes for instance recurring patterns along the ‘journey’ a new technology may take from development to becoming embedded in user’s practices and broader socio-technical environments, and the roles of different actor groups therein. Furthermore, students learn how this can affect social practices or society more broadly. Both contemporary and historical examples will be used for illustration.

2. Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation

Building on the understanding of innovation processes, the third thematic component addresses the question how research and innovation, up to socio-technical change, can be (managed and) governed and by whom. You will learn about what constitutes a policy problem, about the process of policy-making and about possibilities and limitations of  policy instruments and approaches. Finally, we will shift the perspective from governance of science and technology to the role of science and technology for governance.

3. Prospecting and Assessing Technology

The knowledge gained in the first parts feeds into reflections on possibilities and limitations to anticipate on the further development of technologies and their embedding into society. Students learn about the strategic role of expectations and promises in research, innovation, and the governance of innovation, as well as about typical patterns how expectations change over time, such as hype and disappointment cycles. Then, you will learn about structured forms of anticipating and assessing technologies and socio-technical change, as scenario-building and different forms of technology assessment.

4. Project: Governance and Strategic Options for a Chosen Innovation Field. 

In the project each group chooses a particular innovation to focus on, suggested by the teachers or the students, and a research question which will guide the project work. All projects consist of an analytical part studying important characteristics and prospects of the innovation, relevant innovation actors and stakeholders, context developments, and a ‘design’ part, suggesting a strategy recommendation to a chosen innovation actor or a policy recommendation to a chosen governance actor.


Module Philosophy of Science and Technology:

  • Basic knowledge of philosophical theories and methods and of important approaches within philosophy of science and technology.
  • Acquiring skills in analysing and evaluating scientific and technological issues and problems by applying insights from philosophy and the field of science, technology, innovation and governance studies.

Module Governance of Innovation and Socio-Technical Chance:

  • Basic knowledge of important patterns and dynamics in innovation processes and sociotechnical change, and of the possibilities and means of governing innovation.

Ability to apply this knowledge to concrete cases of innovations and to derive strategic implications for policy and innovation actors.

Aanvullende informatie

This is a minor of the University of Twente (UT). All lectures are offered at the UT campus in Enschede.

There is 1 term of enrolment: September


You need to have to completed 120 EC’s from the first two years of your current bachelor’s studies before starting this minor. Please send with your signed Learning Agreement a grading list containing all your bachelor courses with obtained marks.


Module Philosophy of Science and Technology: exam, a group presentation, three individual essays and a project assignment.

Module Governance of Innovation and Socio-Technical Change: a set of individual and group assignments throughout the module and a project report.


Selected articles and on-line sources, made available via Canvas.