Virginia Tech's Policy Destination Area is currently developing a new program called Science, Technology & Engineering in Policy (STEP). Building on the spirit of Ut Prosim, this program will provide science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEM-H) graduate students with an understanding of and competencies in various dimensions of public policy. 

Various SPIA faculty have been intensively involved in the development of this program, including Policy DA co-chair Karen Hult, stakeholder Max Stephenson, and stakeholder and curriculum committee chair Todd Schenk. Schenk is expected to serve as the inaugural director of the program.

The program will develop participants’ abilities to engage with complex public problems, recognizing that they are social and technical in nature. The program is primarily intended for students that have an interest in working in or with the public sector, including in non-profits, government-facing industries and/or on academic pursuits at the science-policy interface. It is initially going through governance as a graduate certificate, but the ambition is to create a larger program with student and faculty fellowships, complementary seminar and speaker series, and a strong sense of community.

Particular emphasis will be placed on enhancing their collaborative capacities to work in multi-and interdisciplinary teams to achieve more effective, efficient and equitable policies and policy implementation outcomes.

Longer-term, the program may develop other offerings, including mid-career professional development courses and/or a new degree program. The initial 10-credit (minimum) is built around three courses - Policy Gateway: Introduction to Policy and Decision Making in Scientific Domains, Complex Decision Making I: Reflective Practice and Stakeholder Engagement in Scientific Domains, and Complex Decision Making II: Tools and Approaches to Decision Making, plus participation in the seminar series.