Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University


STS Circle

The STS Circle at Harvard meets weekly during the academic semester. For Spring 2024, all meetings are planned to take place in person on Mondays, from 12:15-2:00 p.m., in CGIS South S050, 1730 Cambridge Street unless otherwise noted. Sandwich lunches will be provided. To receive the abstract and bio for each talk, and to register to attend, please join our mailing list.

STS Circle schedule poster

Spring 2024

Jan. 29:
Jules Gill-Peterson (Johns Hopkins, History)
Who Really Invented Gender? Transvestites and the Psychologization of Class
Feb. 5:
Spencer Doyle (Harvard STS and Physics)
Maintaining the Atom: US Nuclear Energy Policy 70 Years After “Atoms for Peace”
Feb. 12:
Paul Thomas Clarke (Harvard, Anthropology)
Risk is the Life Source: Labor and Working-class Consciousness in Johannesburg’s Security Industry
Feb. 26:
David S. Jones (Harvard Medical School/History of Science)
The Health Effects of Air Pollution: The Harvard Six Cities Study as a Generator of Surprises
Mar. 4:
Jacquelene Mwangi (Harvard Law School)
Techno-colonialism vs. Techno-utopianism in Historical Perspective
Mar. 18:
Jason Furman (HKS and Economics)
Economists Can’t Predict the Future, But Can They Agree on the Past?
Mar. 25:
Alexander Rewegan (MIT, HASTS)
Settler Environmentality and the Making of a Post-Prohibition Drug Terroir
Apr. 1:
Swarnabh Ghosh (Harvard STS and Architecture)
Infrastructuration: Colonial Irrigation and the Spacetime of Fossil Capitalism
Apr. 8:
Timothy Loh (MIT, HASTS)
Not Modern Enough: Lexical Anxieties over Jordanian Sign Language
Apr. 15:
Natalie Ngai (Boston College, Communication)
Mediated Animal-human Relations
Apr. 22:
Abigail Coplin (Vassar, Sociology and STS)
Biopolitical Entanglements: The Political Economy and Nationalist Imaginaries of China’s Genetic Data Troves

» 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.

Shoshana Zuboff event poster

Shoshana Zuboff
With panel discussion by Sven Beckert, Mathias Risse, and Bruce Schneier.
April 10, 2024, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Science Center Lecture Hall D, 1 Oxford Street, Harvard University

In 2023 generative AI was thrust into the consumer space, signaling a new era. Looked at another way, it also triggered a vast parade of groundhog days. Surveillance capitalism’s antidemocratic original sins and its progress toward totalities of knowledge and power are repeated, upscaled, and driven further into everyday life. There is a genuine path out of this house of mirrors that leads through theory and politics-- comprehension, communication, and collective action. There is progress to build on. Will a new generation take up this challenge for the sake of a democratic information civilization?

» Lecture series archive

Workshops and Panels

AI & Democracy Symposium event poster

April 30, 2024, 2:30pm-5:15pm
Harvard Kennedy School

Artificial intelligence (AI) and democracy are ubiquitous topics on campuses today, but rarely are the two brought together in a meaningful way. To address this deficit, in Fall 2023, the Harvard STS Program hosted the Conference on AI & Democracy, to explore why the threats that AI poses to democracy cannot be solved by technical experts alone. Democratic institutions and political organizing are vital to our understanding of the nature of these threats and to devising innovative means of addressing them. On April 30, students in the Global Democracy Caucus at HKS are collaborating with the Harvard STS Program, with support from the Ash Center for Democracy, to bring together academics, policy-makers, and change agents for a series of conversations to push the discussion forward. This afternoon event will address these questions: what do we understand about the impacts AI may have on human lives and our ways of living together in the world, and how might we confront the possible risks of AI through more democratic, cross-sectoral, and cross-national forms of organization and action?

» Workshops and panels archive

Program news

Read about Harvard STS Fellow Michael Cheng (HLS '24) in this feature, Composing a Path, Bar by Bar.

The STS Undergraduate Fellowship is now accepting applications for Fall 2024! Read more and apply here by Friday, May 31.

Register today for the AI & Democracy Symposium: Where Should We Go and How Do We Get There? This afternoon event on Tuesday, April 30 will address what we understand about the impacts AI may have on human lives and our ways of living together in the world, and how we might confront the possible risks of AI through more democratic, cross-sectoral, and cross-national forms of organization and action.

STS Undergraduate Essay Prize Contest is now OPEN. Essays must be submitted by Thursday, April 18. Follow this link to learn more and submit your essay.

Spring Science & Democracy Lecture “Fool Me Twice: AI and Surveillance Capitalism’s Second Coming” presented by Shoshana Zuboff, noted author, professor, social psychologist, philosopher, and scholar on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 5:00-7:00 PM, Harvard University Science Center, Hall D. This is an in-person event only. Register for this event here.

The STS Program's very own Michael Cheng in the news. Follow this link to read the article.

Past STS Fellow Makoto "Mak" Takahashi shares his latest publication which came from his time at the Harvard STS Program. Read the publication HERE.

Sheila Jasanoff contributed to a recent essay collection by the HKS Carr Center on Human Rights Policy commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The complete publication, entitled “Making a Movement: The History and Future of Human Rights,” can be found here, with a copy of Jasanoff’s essay on science, technology and human rights here.

The Conference on AI & Democracy began on November 30th with a keynote lecture Artificial Intimacy: What are People For? by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle. Panels on December 1st and 2nd brought together leading voices on AI and related policy issues with prominent figures from government, civil society, academia, and the private sector. Featured speakers included Liz Shuler (AFL-CIO), Jody Williams (Nobel Laureate), Rep. Ted Lieu, and former Mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio. Learn more here.

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.

» Program news archive