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ACM Opinion

How STEM Education Must Evolve

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STEM student in classroom

As millions of students head back to school this fall, it is worth looking at how the education they receive now will prepare them to take on society's big new challenges. Concerns about personal privacy are growing in an age of increasing digital corporate surveillance, social media platforms have become centralized points of attack for hate-mongers, and we see a deficit of trust in information found online. Technology is emerging as one of the most plentiful sources of new headaches for politicians and voters alike.

How are our educational institutions preparing the next generation of leaders to deal with these new digital problems? One interesting trend is in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Over the past 40 years, the number of graduate students studying STEM has more than doubled to almost 700,000. Yet over that same time period, relatively little has been done to educate those students about the political, psychological, economic, social, and ethical dimensions of their work.

Yesterday's STEM curriculum produced an environment where tech platforms and products were developed in isolation from the broader effects they had on society. We need to update the syllabus so society gains a wider understanding of both the good and bad that come with massively accelerated technological development.

From Scientific American
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