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STS1Book programme

Each year, STS asks all students and staff to read one book as a community. The STS1Book for 2021-22 will be Gemma Milne's "Smoke and Mirrors," about hype in the world of technology innovation.

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STS1Book for 2022-23

The ancient Greek philosopher's classic work on rhetoric, ethics, public policy, and the difference between majority rule and a republic. Science and technology are at the core of every major political and social decision we make in the 21st century. Plato's exploration of priorities and boundaries will give readers pause to think about the priorities we are setting as well as the priorities we are ignoring. His criticisms of silver-tougued politicians will sound painfully familiar in 2022. 

Be kind to the Earth with this book. Before purchasing in new copy of the STS1Book, consider your options: UCL Library, public libraries and free digital repositories, such as Internet Archive and Project Gutenburg. Also, check secondhand retailers, such as ABEBooks.co.uk. Gorgias has been translated in many languages, and we encourage all our students to read Plato across several translations and to bring their comparisons into our conversations.

STS will have a series of activities around the STS1Book during the year. 

What's the STS1Book programme?

Each year, the Department asks all staff and students to read one book in common during the summer, then arrive for the new session ready to discuss both its substance and its broader value. Incoming students should read this prescribed book. It will be the subject of activities during induction week and will be used in Year 1 courses. Titles are selected for inclusion by the STS Undergraduate Programme Tutor from suggested offered by students and staff. 

The goals of our STS1Book programme are:

  1. increase intellectual integration across our many different subjects
  2. increase common ground for students in different years of study
  3. encourage informal learning
  4. read more fabulous work from scholars and writers in our community

This is our 17th year!

Past books in the series include:

  • Gemma Milne. 2020. Smoke & Mirrors: How Hype Obscures the Future and How To See Past It (Robinson). ISBN 9781472143662.
  • Amanda Rees and Charlotte Sleigh (2020) Human (Animal) (Reaktion Books)
  • Eubanks, Virginia. 2018. Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (Picador)
  • Saini, Angela. 2017. Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story (London: Harper Collins)
  • Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes. 2012. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (London: Bloomsbury)
  • Philip Ball's Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics
  • Henry Nicholls' The Galapagos: A Natural History
  • Peter Dear's The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World
  • Ron Number's Galileo Goes to Jail, and other myths about science and religion
  • Mark Henderson's Geek Manifesto
  • Jon Turney's The Rough Guide to The Future
  • Bill Bryson's Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society: 350 Years of the Royal Society and Scientific Endeavour
  • Ben Goldacre's Bad Science
  • Thomas Dixon's Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction
  • Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men
  • Jared Diamond's Collapse

We invite authors to visit STS for a day, to meet students, discuss their ideas, and discuss careers. When Philip Ball visited in 2017, we filmed his seminar talk. The audience includes STS students and staff as well as students and staff across the university.

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High praise

Our STS1Book programme was praised highly by UCL's quality review team in their 2012 regular audit of the department. It was described as innovative and key to creating a shared learning environment.