Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University

What's the Public for Public Social Science?

Craig Calhoun

Director, London School of Economics and Political Science

April 15, 2014, 5:00pm-7:00pm
Tsai Lecture Hall, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Harvard University


In the last few years, almost every social science discipline has launched efforts to be more "public" in its work. Some of these are framed mainly in terms of communication of research results; others aim to build communication and an orientation to public purposes into every stage of the research process. In most of these efforts, though, the idea of 'public' has itself been underspecified. And at the same time, there have been substantial changes in the public sphere that have challenged older ideas about how academic knowledge might inform public debate or public policy. In this talk I take up questions about changing media, national and transnational arenas, and the extent to which academia is itself a public sphere. Video of this lecture is located here.


David Armitage

Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History

Michèle Lamont

Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies

Orlando Patterson

John Cowles Professor of Sociology

Moderated by

Sheila Jasanoff

Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies

About the speaker

Craig Calhoun is Director of the London School of Economics. He is a social scientist whose work connects sociology to culture, communication, politics, philosophy and economics. He took up his post in September 2012, having left the United States where he was University Professor at New York University, director of the Institute for Public Knowledge, and President of the Social Science Research Council. He co-founded, with Richard Sennett, Professor of Sociology at LSE, the NYLON program, which brings together graduate students from New York and London for cooperative research programs. Professor Calhoun earned a D.Phil. in History and Sociology at Oxford University and a Master’s in Social Anthropology at Manchester. He is the author of several books including Nations Matter, Critical Social Theory, Neither Gods Nor Emperors and most recently The Roots of Radicalism (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Event video available here