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, Bowie-Vernon Room, 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 2017

Jan. 30:
Edward Hackett (Brandeis University, Vice Provost for Research)
Group Creativity: Lessons from Synthesis Centers?
Feb. 6:
Les Beldo (Williams College, Environmental Studies)
What is a Whale Stock? And Other Moral Questions in Large Cetacean Management
Feb. 13:
Caterina Scaramelli (MIT, HASTS)
Making Livable Natures: Caring for Wetlands in Turkey
Feb. 27:
Ateya Khorakiwala (Harvard, GSD)
Architectural Strategies and Infrastructural Landscapes of the Green Revolution in India in the 1960s
Mar. 6:
Matthew Hersch (Harvard, History of Science)
The Strange Life of Film-Return Spy Satellites, 1946–1986
Mar. 20:
William Deringer (MIT, HASTS)
The Social Rate of Discount and the Political Economy of the Future in the 1960s
Mar. 27:
Meera Subramanian (MIT, Knight Science Journalism Fellow)
Eco Swaraj: Can India’s Model of the Micro Transform Development for the 21st Century?
Apr. 3:
Kara Swanson (Northeastern University, Law)
Counting Black Inventors: The Historical Role of the US Patent System as a Political Resource
Apr. 10:
Sarah Richardson (Harvard, History of Science)
Can a Cell Have a Sex?
Note: CGIS South S050, 1730 Cambridge Street
Apr. 17:
Kenneth Oye (MIT, Political Science)
Assessing and Mitigating Synthetic Biology Risks: Exemplary Cases and Cautionary Tales
Apr. 24:
Daniel Wikler (HSPH, Ethics and Population Health)
Wrong Way After Nuremberg: Misconceiving Research Ethics

» 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.

Rachel Kyte event poster

Rachel Kyte
With panel discussion by William ClarkHenry Lee, and Michael Mehling. Moderated by Sheila Jassanoff.
October 18, 2016, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Emerson Hall, Room 105, 25 Quincy Street

Last year, world leaders agreed to put their nations on a pathway to “well below 2°C” of global warming in order to meet the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). One of those goals – SDG #7 – calls for countries to secure affordable and clean energy for the 1.3 billion people still living in energy poverty by 2030. Now, an array of grassroots organizations are pushing leaders to adopt an "energy efficiency first" approach, putting access at the center of their energy plans. This approach calls for distributed energy solutions to help countries go further, faster toward closing the energy access gap. Kyte will discuss how the work of these organizations can accelerate the national energy plans that countries around the world are currently putting into action. Video of this lecture is located here.

» Lecture series archive

Workshops and Panels

February 16, 2017, 6:00pm-7:30pm
JFK Jr. Forum, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street

There is no value-free science. There is no algorithm that writes itself.” - President Drew Faust, Harvard University The potential of information technology and artificial intelligence has been much-discussed by policymakers. The ability to access and analyze data to inform government decisions is unprecedented and represents an exciting opportunity to improve the impact of existing policies and identify new opportunities for public action and collaboration. Concurrently, discussions of bias and discrimination have taken on a renewed sense of urgency, from the classrooms of Harvard Yard to the presidential election. Yet despite the importance and timeliness of these two topics, a discussion of how bias will interact with emerging technologies has been slow to form. Machine learning tools are often positioned as fair and objective. However, algorithms are often based on both historical precedent, frequently reflecting the majority. As technology becomes increasingly complex and ubiquitous, this bias becomes further obscured while continuing to scale. The algorithms are neither accessible nor transparent, and as a result, are ripe with unintended consequences. This can create a destructive feedback loop that support a narrow interpretation of identity. The event will be live-streamed and recorded. You can watch here.

» Workshops and panels archive

Program news

We're pleased to announce a new STS blog - First 100 Days: Narratives of Normalization and Disruption.

Ben Hurlbut's new book, Experiments in Democracy: Human Embryo Research and the Politics of Bioethics is now available from Columbia University Press.  

Wondering what we've been up to this year? Our Fall 2016 Newsletter is now available!

Missed The Expertise and Public Trust Project's inaugural event "What Should Democracies Know?" featuring post-election reflections by Archon Fung, Ned Hall, Jane Mansbridge, David Kennedy and Sheila Jasanoff? The video and event summary are now available.

Missed our Science and Democracy Lecture with Rachel Kyte on Looking up: How coalitions of bottom-up organizations are driving action for sustainable development? Watch the video here.

Sheila Jasanoff's latest book The Ethics of Invention: Technology and the Human Future is now available for order at Amazon and at the publisher's link.

A summary of our workshop "The Molecularization of Identity: Science and Subjectivity in the 21st Century," is now available in Genetics ResearchThe summary was written by workshop organizers, and past STS Fellows, Ian McGonigle and Ruha Benjamin

Sheila Jasanoff was recently featured on a University of Melbourne podcast on "Twin Engines of Truth? How Science and Law Interact to Construct our World."

We're pleased to announce this year's STS Undergraduate Prize Competition winners: Nicole Bassoff, Leah Singer, and Emma Woo! Watch videos where the winners discuss their work here.

Missed our April 20th Science and Democracy panel with Yaron Ezrahi, Andy Stirling, Shiv Visvanathan, and Jane Mansbridge on "The Elusive Demos: Democracy in the Digital Age?" The video is now available. 

» Program news archive