The MSU Center for Science, Technology, Ethics and Society (STES) is a new addition to MSU that offers tools to help students evaluate scientific claims and consider the ethical, social, and policy implications of science and technology. The center is based out of the Office of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education and was approved by the Montana Board of Regents this past fall. 

The center has three major objectives. The first is to facilitate interdisciplinary research and collaboration among faculty and students. The next is to help cultivate ethical thinking and behavior in research. Lastly, the center helps communicate the results of scientific research to the public.

Kristen Intemann, Ph.D. is the director of the center as well as a professor of philosophy in the department of philosophy and history. Her responsibilities include leading the advisory board in making decisions, organizing two speaker series, representing the center, working with student research assistants and interns on research projects and collaborating with researchers from different disciplines at MSU. She wants the STES center to be a place where students can learn to engage with the scientific community and understand how to make their scientific findings available to the public. “From questions about artificial intelligence to climate change action and from ethical issues in genetic editing to public health advocacy, there are ways for students to get involved,” Intemann said. 

The STES center also strives to address the trust issues people might have with the scientific community. “C-STES hopes to facilitate trust by creating opportunities for engagement between researchers and members of the public,” Intemann said. “C-STES is working to produce interdisciplinary research that has a significant community component… C-STES is involved in research and scholarship in the humanities and social sciences to study how trust is undermined and facilitated so as to identify best practices and promote research integrity.”

The STES center has already hosted several events including forums on the origin of COVID-19 featuring Raina Plowright, Ph.D., an MSU professor of microbiology and immunology, and David Quammen, who wrote the book “Spillover.” The center also hosted a talk on the impact of climate change on the health of Montanans and published an article on the relationship between public health, economic well-being and mining in Montana. “All of our events are free and open to MSU students and there are often research opportunities, including opportunities to contribute articles for our blog,” Intemann said. Most recently, the center hosted an online community event titled, “The Search for Life on Mars and Beyond” featuring Sarah Johnson, Ph.D. from Georgetown University, and Carol Cleland, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado on Wednesday, Feb. 24. 

For more information on STES’ programs, courses and events visit, http://www.montana.edu/stes/ 

or contact Kristen Intemann directly

kristen.intemann@montana.edu