Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University


STS Circle at Harvard

The STS Circle at Harvard meets weekly during the academic semester. All Meetings will take place on Mondays, from 12:15–2 pm, at  Room 100F, Pierce Hall, 29 Oxford Street, unless otherwise noted. Sandwich lunches are provided. Please RSVP to by Thursday noon the week before.

STS Circle schedule poster

Fall 2014

Sep. 8:
Aaron Mauck (Harvard, History of Science)
Social Molecules: Biomarkers and the New Data Imaginary in Social Science Research
Sep. 15:
David Lazer (Note: This event will meet in Pound Hall 200 at the Harvard Law School) (Northeastern, Political Science, )
Computational Social Science: The Use of 'Big Data' to Study Human Behavior
The event will meet in Pound Hall 200 at the Harvard Law School
Sep. 22:
Angie Boyce (Harvard, Robert Wood Johnson Fellow)
Chicken, Egg, or Cook? Foodborne Salmonellosis and Distributed Responsibility
Sep. 29:
Benjamin Morris (MIT, Catalyst Collaborative)
Science/Fiction: Dramatic Arts as a Medium for Translating Science
Oct. 6:
Scott Podolsky (Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital)
Antimicrobials and Public Health: From Serotherapy to Antibiotics (and Back)
Oct. 20:
Venkatesh Narayanamurti (Harvard, SEAS)
Bridging the Basic-Applied Dichotomy and the Cycle of Discovery and Invention
Oct. 27:
Zoe Nyssa (Harvard, HUCE/STS Fellow)
Ecologies of Paradox: A Typology of Scientific Surprise in the Anthropocene
Nov. 3:
Richard Rottenburg (University of Halle, Anthropology)
Emerging “Global Health” Institutions in Africa: Technologies and Significations
Nov. 10:
Naor Ben-Yehoyada (Harvard, Center for Middle Eastern Studies)
'I can feel the mafia but I can’t see it': An Anthropology of Forensic Knowledge
Nov. 17:
Heather Paxson (MIT, Anthropology)
Regulating Microbial Ecologies: Policy and Practice in Artisanal Cheesemaking
Nov. 24:
Canay Özden-Schilling (MIT, HASTS)
Economics Inside the Grid: Smart Grids, Power Systems Engineering, and Emergent Markets
Dec. 1:
Zara Mirmalek (Harvard, STS Fellow)
Democracy and the Deep-Sea: Telepresence and Public Participation in Remote Environments

» More information and past schedules

Science & Democracy Lecture Series

Once a semester, the STS Program, with co-sponsorship from other local institutions, hosts an installation in its Science and Democracy Lecture Series.

Martin Rees event poster

Martin Rees
With panel discussion by Sven Beckert, George DaleyJennifer Hochschild, and Daniel Schrag. Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff.
November 6, 2014, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Jefferson Hall, Room 250, Harvard University

Our Earth is 45 million centuries old. But this century is the first when one species ours can determine the biosphere's fate. Threats from the collective "footprint" of 9 billion people seeking food, resources and energy are widely discussed. But less well studied is the potential vulnerability of our globally-linked society to the unintended consequences of powerful technologies not only nuclear, but (even more) biotech, advanced AI, geo-engineering and so forth. These are advancing fast, and bring with them great hopes, but also great fears. They will present new threats more diverse and more intractable than nuclear weapons have done. More expertise is needed to assess which long-term threats are credible, versus which will stay science fiction, and to explore how to enhance resilience against the more credible ones. We need to formulate guidelines that achieve optimal balance between precautionary policies, and the benign exploitation of new technologies. We shouldn't be complacent that the probabilities of catastrophe are miniscule. Humans have survived for millennia, despite storms, earthquakes, and pestilence. But we have zero grounds for confidence that we can survive the worst that the future can bring. It's an important maxim that "the unfamiliar is not the same as the improbable.

» Lecture series archive

Workshops and Panels

STS Summer School event poster

July 27-August 2, 2014
Harvard University Center for the Environment

Developments in the biosciences in the last half-century have posed novel challenges for governance. These have emerged as biological knowledge becomes more central to matters of safety, health and welfare; as biology is called upon to address moral uncertainty around ideas of human nature, identity and dignity; and as biology plays an increasingly central role in the technological alteration of human bodies, non-human entities and environments. Governance challenges have unfolded across several domains: internally within the research enterprise itself; externally where the biosciences are called upon to address social problems; and in moments of ethical doubt, for example, when institutions of governance are called upon to distinguish bioengineered artifacts from entities with human dignity. Scholarship in Science and Technology Studies (STS) has developed varied approaches and techniques for examining such phenomena, and drawing theoretically grounded generalizations from site-specific studies. This summer school will introduce participants to major approaches, and explore new research frontiers and possible directions for synthesis and innovation. It will emphasize engagement with theoretical issues in STS, with particular attention to moments of friction between science and institutions of democratic governance.

» Workshops and panels archive

Program news

See what we were up to in 2014! Check out our annual newsletter.

Missed our recent Science and Democracy Lecture with Martin Rees on  "Catastrophic Risks: The Downsides of Advancing Technology"? His lecture is available in PDF here and a video is available here.

Our non-stipendiary fellowship application is now live. Apply by January 31st to join us as a fellow for the 2015-2016 academic year!

Spring 2014 STS Fellow Ari Barell recently published Engineer king: David Ben-Gurion, Science and Nation Building

The STS Circle is back! Join us Mondays, 12:15-2PM in Pierce 100F.

STS Summer School: Science and Governance at the Frontiers of Life was held held July 27th-August 1st. The website for the school's students and faculty is located here.

Congratulations to our 2014 STS Undergraduate Essay Prize winner Lily Ostrer and honorable mentions Sandra Korn and Danny Wilson! Watch them discuss the relationship between STS and their winning essays here.

The video from our April 15th Science and Democracy Lecture with Craig Calhoun is now available.

Missed our recent lectures by Ken Feinberg and Alfred Nordmann? The videos are here and here.

Sheila Jasanoff answered questions about STS at Harvard and elsewhere in this month's issue of HKS Magazine.

» Program news archive