The European Inter-University Association on Society, Science and Technology (ESST) is an association of universities who jointly teach and carry out research in the field of social, scientific and technological developments. Universities from across Europe are members of the association, which is registered as a non-profit organisation in Belgium. The intention behind establishing the association was to strengthen education and research within the field of Society, Science and Technology (STS).

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The basic characteristic of the STS-tradition is an insistence on the necessity to reflect upon social and economic circumstances in order to understand the evolution of science and technology. The development of science is often seen as, essentially, an autonomous process – a process of gradual accumulation of knowledge, driven by purely internal imperatives, such as the search for truth. In the same vein, technology has been largely considered as a process of applied science, a kind of “lesser cousin”, which simply follow from previous scientific advance. Science was conceived as opening up fields of knowledge that engineering subsequently exploited. This view began to change in the 1950s and 1960s: a new approach emerged that regarded scientific activity and technological change as deeply embedded in our society. The argument was that understanding the development of science and technology involved the recognition that scientific and technological advances occur in the context of powerful social and economic forces that shape the development and impact of both science and technology. This tradition insists that study of the evolution of science and technology must include social, political, cultural and economic dimensions. STS recognises that social structures do exist not only in and through the actions of people, but also as part of a network of heterogeneous material elements. Understanding the ways in which this has occurred, including the implications for the possibilities for social change, is at the core of the STS-field and of the ESST programme.

The ESST programme is international in its outlook: it is a multicultural venture rooted in the teaching, research and scientific cultures of many European regions and countries, and in their wider social experience. The universities have developed a common graduate course focusing on the social, scientific and technological developments in Europe, which they teach in collaboration with each other. This involves substantial exchange of students and staff from the participating universities.

The activities of ESST are financed both by the member universities and by external sources,which have included DG XII, DG XXII and the General Secretariat of the European Commission.

Joining the Assocation
ESST welcomes the opportunity to discuss expansion of the association, and we wish to encourage universities to get in touch with us. We have established a set of criteria which potential new member universities should be able to meet. Applications to join ESST are dealt with by the Administrative Board. Please contact the President if you have any questions.


A. Criteria

A prospective new member:

1. must subscribe to the ESST Declaration of Principles.

2. must be able to demonstrate a high level of academic and research competence in Society, Science and Technology, broad enough to substain a common curriculum in the training of SST researchers.

3. must demonstrate its ability to administer the ESST programme effectively.

4. must demonstrate its commitment to the programme and pay the joining fee which has been established by the Administrative Board.

5. should increase the number of European countries which the international association covers.

6. should contribute to the balance between Northern and Southern Europe in the network.

7. should have research strengths in areas that fit the research objectives of ESST and appropriately extend or reinforce existing networks (when these have been established).

8. should be able to demonstrate the financial and administrative capacity to participate in the programme with the level of central financial support which the network is likely to be able to provide.

In addition, the overall size of the network should not be greater than can be sustained financially and administratively. This is deemed at the moment to be 17 universities.

In order to be admitted to the network the prospective member must demonstrate the ability to fulfil criteria 1 to 4 and a significant number of criteria 5 to 8.

B. Procedure

In order to enable us to judge the applicant´s ability to fulfil the criteria, the applying university must provide the following information:

1. Some basic data about the university including numbers of undergraduate students, numbers of post-graduate students, academic structure (ie Faculties and Departments including some indication of their relative sizes)

2. Indication of how the ESST programme would fit into the academic/administrative structure of the university, including which department/School/Faculty would carry overall responsibility for it and how it would be administered. Also how the University´s representative on the ESST Administrative Board would relate to this.

3. A set of CVs of staff who would be likely to participate in the MA training programme and/or contribute to ESST research and/or a research report including all publications relevant to STS which would demonstrate a sufficiently broad STS competence.

4. Information regarding the University´s quality assurance or other procedures for monitoring academic standards.

5. How many MA students they would hope to recruit to the programme. What fees the students would be required to pay and whether local/regional or national scholarships or other financial support might be available to support the programme.

6. A statement of the reasons why they wish to join ESST.

7. The name and position of the prospective University representative on the Administrative Board endorsed by its Rector (or equivalent)

Outside a meeting of the General Assembly the admission of a new member must be approved in writing by the members of the General Assembly. In case of an objection by one member of the General Assembly during the writing procedure, the application must be approved at a full meeting of the General Assembly, on proposal of the administrative board, and taken by a two third majority of the members present or represented.