Catastrophic Risks and Solutions (CRS)
STS launched a new Catastrophic Risks and Solutions (CRS) concentration for the 2020-2021 school year!
This concentration allows students to focus on understanding, anticipating, communicating, and reducing large-scale catastrophic risks, defined as threats to large cities, regions, ethnic groups, entire societies, human civilization, or humanity itself. Examples include climate change, pandemics, ecosystem collapse, famine, nuclear war, genocide, earthquakes, asteroid impacts, and uncontrolled or hostile artificial intelligence. Students in this concentration will choose one or several such risks and define a plan of study that includes analysis, tools for understanding, and current knowledge of how they might be solved or reduced in scale and scope. Examples of analysis and tools for understanding include scientific approaches (statistics, modeling), social science approaches (psychology, anthropology, or sociology of risk), and humanistic studies (history, fiction, film, art).
The Catastrophic Risks and Solutions concentration will let students explore how natural, technological, economic, political, and social dimensions of catastrophic risks interact. For example, students might study how technological choices, history, socioeconomic status, and geography combine to shape which groups are most vulnerable to climate change. Or they might examine the factors that govern risk perception and willingness to pay for mitigation, and how those factors play out differently with respect to several major risks. Policy studies of particular risk-mitigation measures would be another avenue open to students in this concentration.
Students will learn to synthesize multiple approaches using STS analytical frameworks and sensibilities, which they cultivate through Major Core and Concentration Core courses.