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. For 2020-21, all meetings will take place on Mondays, from 12:15–1:30 p.m., remotely via Zoom. Sign up to our mailing list to receive weekly notifications of events.

STS Circle schedule poster

Spring 2021

Feb. 1:
Dwai Banerjee (STS, MIT)
The Global Politics of Emergency Vaccines: A Primer on Decolonizing the Pandemic
Feb. 8:
Makoto Takahashi (MCTS, TU Munich)
The Improvised Expert: Performing Authority in Fukushima
Feb. 22:
Deborah Coen (History of Science, Yale)
What's the Use of Climate Science? Towards a History of the Usable Turn
Mar. 8:
Jessica Lynn Dickson (AAAS, Harvard)
Extracting Ghosts: 'Hollywood' World-building through Sites of Ruination in South Africa
Mar. 15:
Colleen Lanier Christensen (History of Science, Harvard)
Chemical Harmonies: The Politics of Standardized Practices and Controls
Mar. 22:
Roxana Vatanparast (STS, Harvard)
"Of Nations Linked Together": Cables, the League of Nations & the Construction of Imagined Global Communities
Mar. 29:
Jeannette Estruth (History, Bard)
Worker Coalitions in the Reagan-Era Silicon Valley
Apr. 5:
Lisa Messeri (Anthropology, Yale)
Technological Terroir: Tracing the Cultivation of "Tech" in Los Angeles
Apr. 12:
Marc F. Aidinoff (HASTS, MIT)
Digital Welfare Reform: The Constitutional Project of Computerizing Government
Apr. 19:
Elena Sobrino (HASTS, MIT)
Economy's Nature: Interrogating Green Chemistry from the Rust Belt
Apr. 26:
Ed Hackett (Sociology, Brandeis)
Sociological Ambivalence Revisited

» 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.

Tim O’Reilly event poster

Tim O'Reilly
With panel discussion by Cathryn Carson and David Winickoff.
April 21, 2021, 1:30-3:00pm EDT

Internet pioneers expected freedom and the wisdom of crowds, not that we would all be under the thumb of giant corporations profiting from a market in disinformation. We can still recover, but at least so far, Silicon Valley appears to be part of the problem more than it is part of the solution. Can we master the demons of our own design? The governance of AI is no simple task. It means rethinking deeply how we govern our companies, our markets and our society—not just managing a stand-alone new technology. It will be unbelievably hard—one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century—but it is also a tremendous opportunity.

» Lecture series archive

Workshops and Panels

GRiSTS: Disrupted Lives event poster

The extraordinary disruptions of the past year underscore the sweeping connections between science and technology (S&T) and the movements of global social life. Known through science, the virus infiltrated and modified the infrastructures that sustain our health, our economies, our modes of governance, and our visions of post-pandemic futures. Public health science suddenly arrested the flows of global economic activity. National governments selectively legitimated forms of expertise that just as selectively shut down arenas of public interaction and social congregation. Open demonstrations against injustice, borrowing the technologies of mass protest, erupted after months of expert-ordered confinement. In each case S&T played as much of a leading role in creating and framing problems as in solving them. Yet the discourses of recovery are studded with calls for scientific and technological innovation to recover the promise of sustainable life on a shared earth.

In a present full of unprecedented uncertainties for biological and social life, we are inviting work that reflects on the role of S&T in restoring healthier bodies, more sustainable economies, and more inclusive politics. This conference calls for (up to 350 word) abstracts from graduate students in STS and neighboring fields representing work on a range of contemporary and historical domains: AI, biotechnology, climate science, digitalization, economics, IT, public health, medicine, security, urban planning and more. Papers should connect to the theme of Disrupted Lives, exploring the role of S&T as instruments of governance and their implications for shaping the politics and policies of recovery. We welcome submissions that problematize the role of S&T in linking or de-linking pre-pandemic modes of life: remaking ties between space and work, school or commerce; enabling new forms of social awareness or amplifying injustice through mass surveillance and intrusive public health regimes; and using advances in data science and modeling to reveal inequality or justify draconian measures targeting behaviors seen as unsafe or risk enhancing. We hope to critically examine how knowledge and innovation constitute themselves as infrastructures of recovery as much as they may also serve as forces of future disruption.

Please submit abstracts by June 1.

Full event details are here.

» Workshops and panels archive

Program news

Registration is now open for this year's Science and Democracy Network Meeting, to be held virtually June 23-25. Full details can be found on the meeting page.

Listen to Sheila Jasanoff discuss science, technology and policy in the latest episode of HKS PolicyCast.

STS@Harvard director Sheila Jasanoff has been elected to the American Philosophical Society.

Read about the winner and three honorable mentions of this year's Undergraduate STS Essay Prize Competition here.

Sheila Jasanoff has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Abstracts are now being accepted from graduate researchers in STS and neighboring fields for the October 29-30 workshop, Disrupted Lives: Linking, De-linking and the Infrastructures of Recovery. Please submit via this online form. A full workshop description is here.

The Harvard-Cornell Comparative Covid Response (CompCoRe) study has released an interim report of its findings. Find coverage on the Kennedy School website here.

The Global Observatory for Genome Editing and STS@Harvard co-present the panel discussion, "Democratic Imaginations at the Frontiers of Science and Technology," on Friday, April 16, 2-4pm EDT. Speaker and registration information here.

We are accepting submissions for our annual Undergraduate STS Essay Prize Competition through Friday, April 9. Details can be found here.

Sheila Jasanoff honored with Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award.

» Program news archive