There’s a good chance the whole milk you poured in your Starbucks coffee has the same nutritional content as the whole milk you had in your morning cereal — and there’s a reason for that. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been setting industrial and scientific standards for generations: regularizing medicines, dictating commodity prices, and yes, even deciding the fat content in whole milk. Drexel historians Amy Slaton, PhD, Tiago Saraiva, PhD, Sharon Ku, PhD, and Scott Knowles, PhD, received a grant from the NIST to develop a series of teaching and research projects that focus on the social and regulatory functions of standards.
Over the summer, the group piloted a two-week institute in which graduate students from Drexel and across the country were invited to learn about the social, political and technological features of standards. The Drexel team is also developing graduate and undergraduate curricula on standards aimed at humanities, social science and STEM students; creating online historical resources on the subject of standards and society; and building a community of practitioners across academic, industrial, governmental and public-interest audiences. An undergraduate co-op position will assist in these efforts.