Rosalyn Berne headshot

Rosalyn W. Berne

Unit: School of Engineering and Applied Science
Department: Department of Engineering and Society
Office location and address
Thornton Hall, A236
351 McCormick Rd
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
​B.A. University of Virginia, 1979
​M.A. University of Virginia, 1982
​Ph.D. University of Virginia, 1999

Rosalyn W. Berne is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Society's program of Science, Technology and Society (STS). She earned the BA (1979) and MA (1982) degrees in Communication Studies, and a PHD (1999) in Bioethics, all from the University of Virginia. In addition to her academic position, her other professional appointments have included Director of Admissions for the Darden Graduate School of Business, Assistant Vice President for Administration at the University of Virginia; Vice President for Academic Affairs for the Institute of Shipboard Education (Semester at Sea), and Head of School for Tandem Friends School.

R. Berne's publications include two academic books, Nanotalk: Conversations with Scientists and Engineers on Ethics, Meaning and Belief in Nanotechnology Development (EarlbaumPress,2007) and Creating Life from Life: Biotechnology and Science Fiction (Pan Stanford, 2015), and numerous journal articles. She has also authored the Science Fiction (SF) novel, Waiting in the Silence (Spore Press, 2012) and two titles in the Body/Mind/Spirit genre: When the Horses Whisper (Rainbow Ridge Books, 2014) and Waking to Beauty (Rainbow Ridge Books, 2016).

As a research scholar R. Berne explores the intersecting realms of emerging technologies, science, fiction and myth, and the links between the human and non-human worlds, with a particular eye for nodes of ethical concern. Her scholarship is enriched through interpreting social-cultural phenomena in a technological context, using an integrative form of philosophical inquiry. Her most recent line of inquiry takes a phenomenological approach to understanding interspecies communication. Her findings, to date, suggest the imperative to expand the ethical boundaries of engineering practice, deepening and broadening engineering knowledge to encompass consideration of life in the non-human world. To do so, she suggests, increases the likelilhood that engineers will be able to improve the prospects for humanity to live harmoniously on this planet.

R. Berne has taught a variety of courses including: Ethics in Nanotechnology Development; Science Fiction and the Future: The Frankenstein Myth; and Gender Issues and Ethics in the New Reproductive Technologies. Berne was awarded a National Science Foundation Career Award called "Ethics and Belief inside the Development of Nanotechnology," which supported her research from 2002-2007.

STS 2500: Science and Technology in Social and Global Context
Credits: 3
This course invites students to explore the implications of STS core concepts within a specific topical or disciplinary area, drawing out the implications of STS 1500 in depth. The course explores the social and global context of engineering, science and technology. Although writing and speaking skills are emphasized, more attention is given to course content and the students' analytical abilities. Prerequisites: STS 1500 or an equivalent STS course.
STS 3500: Advanced Topics in Technology and Society
Credits: 1–4
Specific topics vary. Advanced level examination of the relationships among science, technology and society. Fullfills STS 2000-level requirement. Prerequisite: STS 1500
STS 4500: STS and Engineering Practice
Credits: 3
This course engages students with the idea that success in posing and solving engineering problems requires attention to the social dimensions of professional endeavors and practice. STS theories and methods are applied to student thesis projects. Students produce a prospectus for the senior thesis project. Students must be in residence to take this course. Students are not permitted to take STS 4500 and STS 4600 simultaneously. Prerequisites: STS 2000 or STS 3000 level course.
ENGR 4595: Special Topics in Engineering
Credits: 1–3
Advance projects course to be taken in parallel with STS 4010, 4020, or can be used for an advanced undergraduate course on a topic not covered in the course offerings. Prerequisite: instructor permission.
STS 4600: The Engineer, Ethics, and Professional Responsibility
Credits: 3
This course focuses on ethical issues in engineering. The key theme is that ethics is central to engineering practice. The professional responsibilities of engineers are examined. Students produce an STS Research paper linked to their technical thesis project and complete all of the requirements for the senior thesis. Students must be in residence to take this course. Students are not permitted to take STS 4500 and STS 4600 simultaneously. Prerequisites: STS 4500.
STS 5500: Topics in Technology and Society
Credits: 1–3
A first-level graduate/advanced undergraduate course relates technology or engineering to the broader culture. The specific subject will differ from time to time.
STS 5600: Responsible Conduct of Research
Credits: 1
Responsible conduct of research is defined as "the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research." (NIH) This course will follow the NIS recommended format of substantial face-to-face discussions, with case studies being used as the primary focus of these conversations.