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  K262, the Bowie-Vernon Room, Knafel Building, CGIS, 1737 Cambridge Street, unless otherwise noted. Sandwich lunches are provided. Please RSVP to by Thursday noon the week before.

STS Circle schedule poster

Spring 2015

Feb. 2:
Tom Özden-Schilling (MIT, HASTS)
Expertise in Exile: Indigenous GIS and the Precariousness of Professionalization
Feb. 9:
Arunabh Ghosh (Harvard, Weatherhead Center)
CANCELLED: No 'Mean' Solution: The Reformulation of Statistical Science in the Early People's Republic of China
Feb. 23:
Michael Bennett (University of Michigan, Risk Science Center)
The Ascent of Science Fictional Futurity in Anglo-American Legal Thought
Mar. 2:
Steve Caton (Harvard, Anthropology)
Experts in Cruelty: Interrogation in Abu Ghraib and After
Mar. 9:
Geert Somsen (Columbia/Maastricht, History)
'Science and World Order': Uses of Science in Plans for International Government, 1899-1950
Mar. 23:
Dan Navon (Harvard, Robert Wood Johnson Fellow)
Mobilizing Mutations: New Kinds of People at the Intersection of Genetics and Patient Advocacy
Mar. 30:
Margo Boenig-Liptsin (Harvard, STS/History of Science)
A New Literacy for the Information Age: Children, Computers, and Citizenship
Apr. 6:
Anna M. Agathangelou (York University, Political Science)
Emerging Legal and Forensic BioConstitutional Order(s) in Post-Conflict Cyprus
Apr. 13:
Emily Harrison (Harvard, History of Science)
Infant Science and Health Adventuring: Global Intervention around Infant Mortality
Apr. 20:
Rajesh Veeraraghavan (UC Berkeley/Harvard Berkman Center)
The Politics of Openness: Technology, Corruption and Participation in Indian Public Employment
Apr. 27:
Antoine Picon (Harvard, GSD)
Cities, Technologies and Political Imaginaries

» 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

The STS Program will host the 14th Annual Meeting of the Science and Democracy NetworkJune 25-27, 2015. Check out the call for abstracts to learn how you might present at this year's annual meeting!

The STS Circle is back! Take a look at our Spring 2015 schedule

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

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

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.

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.

» Program news archive