Program on Science, Technology and Society at HarvardHarvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University
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.
There is no historical precedent for a technology with as profound ramifications as artificial intelligence being developed with so few checks and balances. In an age typified by information overload and polarized politics, the relative absence of a public discourse around AI is striking. We have a profound democracy deficit in this area, with little progress in developing oversight mechanisms, transparency and regulation. The complexity of the technology and of the issues it raises should not defeat our ability to determine schemas for ensuring it meets our needs, and not the other way around. Equally, the public good needs to be asserted in a realm dominated by private sector actors with little accountability. Nowhere is this more true than in our cities which are about to be inundated with a host of AI-related challenges, from the safety concerns regarding self-driving vehicles to the massive loss of employment likely from AI-enabled automation. As has been true all over the globe on huge challenges like inequality, racism and climate, cities will have to be the problem-solvers and the innovators. We need a democratic methodology for addressing AI and we need it immediately. If we don’t answer the question “Who decides?,” then matters will surely be decided about us, without us.
Co-sponsored by the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and John and Elizabeth McQuillan
Workshops and Panels
Biosecurity governance is going through a renaissance. This seminar brings together experts to discuss the current biosecurity landscape and what it means to think differently about how we understand when we need to be concerned about life science research, who has a responsibility for addressing those concerns, and what should actually be done.
Co-sponsored by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
» Workshops and panels archive
Join the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Science, Technology and Society’s (STS) Undergraduate Fellowship for the fall semester! Join a cohort of peers in diving into the field of STS to grapple with the ways in which science and technology are molding and reflecting ideas of desirable human futures, interacting with the politics of innovation, shaping human rights and inequality, or being subjected to mechanisms of democratic institutions. Learn from and discuss with leading scholars across STS and a diverse range of fields while developing a new set of analytical problem-solving skills. If you ever wanted to better understand opposition to vaccines? Misinformation in a “post-truth” world? How efforts to address climate change emerge at the global level in relation to local interests? The place of science and technology (S&T) in a world increasingly defined by various kinds of “risk”? If you’re interested in any of these questions — or, more broadly, intersections of science, technology, public policy and politics, and society — apply below to join for the fall semester!
Click here to learn more and apply by May 13th! The Fellowship will meet weekly every Monday afternoon over the fall semester.
Workshop: Regulatory Challenges in Technological Societies - Dialogue between the U.S. and Brazil, Friday, April 7, 2023, 9:30 -5:00 PM, HKS, Malkin Penthouse, 4th Floor. Click here to learn more. Register for in-person attendance.
Spring Science & Democracy lecture is back in-person since 2019. AI for CITIES or CITIES for AI? Who should decide? with Keynote lecturer Bill de Blasio, former Mayor of New York City, Tuesday, March 28, 2023, 5:00 - 7:00 PM, Harvard Science Center, Hall A, 1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA. Click here to learn more and register.
Learn about the Harvard STS Secondary Field at our Open-House, Thursday, Dec 1, 2022, Nye A, 5th Floor, Taubman Building, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK from 4:30 - 6:30 PM. Refreshments will be served.
The STS program celebrated its 20th anniversary with a symposium on Science, Technology and the Human Future, Nov 3-5, 2022.
Read the Future Humans anthology, a multi-media speculative fiction curated for the 20th Anniversary of the STS program.
Mak Takahashi's exhibit, Picturing the Invisible, was awarded the 2022 Ziman award by the European Association for the Study of Science & Technology (EASST).
“We need more urgently to seize back the political discourse on life that has empowered this court to present a massively retrograde decision as if it stands on moral high ground,” says Sheila Jasanoff about the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion.
Sheila Jasanoff wins Holberg Prize, one of the the world’s most prestigious awards in the social sciences.
This year's Science and Democracy Network meeting was held at Harvard from July 27-30, 2022. Check the SDN website for meeting details.