In 2001, the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched an initiative in Science and Technology Studies (S&TS or STS), continuing the university’s long-standing traditions of scholarly excellence in history, social sciences, and philosophy of science, technology and medicine as well as an unparalleled commitment to interdisciplinary research and teaching. STS at UW-Madison embodies the growing recognition that universities must take the lead in fostering public engagement with and deliberation of science and technology in the age of the internet, biotechnology, and global change.
The Robert Holtz family recognized this need and formed an endowment to create the Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center and Program in Science and Technology Studies as the institutional home for such efforts. An engineer and graduate of the UW School of Engineering, Bob Holtz became acutely aware of the tensions between certain scientific and technological innovations and broader social, ethical and political concerns during his many years of working in poor and wealthy countries around the world. It is thanks to his family’s foresight and generosity that the University of Wisconsin is at the forefront of research and teaching in these areas of critical importance. Through the Center and its programs, the University offers graduate and undergraduate educational programs, provides a welcoming environment for collaborative research across disciplinary boundaries, and hosts lectures, colloquia, and workshops open to the university community and the public.
Additionally, an interdisciplinary faculty cluster in Science and Technology Studies was created as a response to the State of Wisconsin–University of Wisconsin partnership to promote interdisciplinary work. As Chancellor John Wiley put it, “New areas of knowledge and complex social issues do not fall neatly into departmental disciplines and structures. The cluster hiring initiative is an approach to seize opportunities for advancing knowledge in interdisciplinary crossroads.”
In the 1990s, Bob and Jean Holtz made an initial commitment that created the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies at UW-Madison.