Prospective students interested in studying the field of science studies at Northwestern can do so through the cluster initiative, sponsored by the Graduate School. Through this program students apply to one of the approved disciplinary Ph.D. programs in such Departments as History, Sociology, Anthropology, Art History, Communication Studies, Political Science, English and indicate their interest in science studies on their application.
In addition to the funding package offered by the student’s department, cluster fellows receive a $2,500 research grant which may be used for designated research purposes over the course of the Ph.D. program. They are also eligible to receive up to $400 each year to help defray the costs of presenting a paper at a professional conference on a science studies topic. In their first two years, they satisfy their cluster requirements by taking a series of at least three courses that train them in the theories and methods of science studies.
Cluster fellows also:
- Attend the weekly Klopsteg lecture series, which usually meets on Monday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:30 pm in the Hagstrum Room (University Hall, Room 201).
- Participate in the Science Studies Doctoral Colloquium and reading group, a student-run colloquium, which meets three or four times a quarter (in place of the Klopsteg lecture) so that students can discuss grant proposals, present dissertation chapters, practice job talks, go over issues of professional development, read key science studies texts, and hear visiting speakers of their own choosing.
The first cohort of cluster students matriculated in 2009. The cluster program operates under the umbrella of the Science in Human Culture program (SHC), an interdisciplinary program that was founded in the 1980s and reorganized along interdisciplinary lines in 1994. The SHC director is also the director of the Science Studies Cluster.
The Science Studies cluster draws its faculty from the SHC program faculty. However, not all SHC faculty are active in advising graduate students on science studies topics, and therefore applicants interested in the cluster may wish to contact the SHC director for information about the advising support that might be available in their areas of interest.
Science Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study; hence the cluster curriculum is designed around the premise that students benefit from taking courses in a number of disciplines alongside fellow students trained in different disciplines. Students admitted through the cluster initiative take three courses, ordinarily one in each of the three areas listed below, during their first two years of study. But it is important to emphasize that all students work with their departmental advisors and the SHC director to map out a plan of study that best suits their intellectual interests. The three main areas of study are:
- Historical study of science, medicine, and technology, encompassing a variety of courses in such fields as Art History, History, Economics, and the Integrated Graduate Program in the Life Sciences.
- Social study of science, medicine, technology, encompassing a variety of courses in such fields as Anthropology, Communication Studies, Human Development and Social Policy, and Sociology.
- Study of the symbolic dimensions and representational practices of science, medicine, and technology, encompassing a variety of courses in such fields as Art History, Communication Studies, English, German, and Radio/Television/Film.
In addition, students admitted to the cluster are expected to attend the Klopsteg lecture series and the doctoral colloquium, including the quarterly reading group sponsored by SHC, which bring together faculty and students.