Program in Science, Technology, and Society

The Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) marked its 25th anniversary with a day-long symposium designed to bring current faculty and staff together with STS alumni, past visitors to the program, and former faculty members. The symposium included talks on the depth and innovativeness of the current research interests of the STS faculty. After 25 years, the STS program has developed into the influential and reputable force in the academic community that its founders envisioned a quarter century ago.

Three STS faculty members will receive promotions this year—Joseph Dumit to associate professor without tenure, Evelynn Hammonds to full professor, and David Mindell to associate professor with tenure. Additionally, the second-year review of Assistant Professor David Kaiser was completed this year.

STS celebrated the hooding of three graduate students in June. On a less fortunate note, STS was greatly saddened by the death of Professor Walter Rosenblith this spring. Professor Rosenblith served as a source of inspiration for many people involved with the program and has left behind a great legacy at MIT. He will be deeply missed by all members of the STS community.

Doctoral Program

In its fourteenth year, the HSSST Doctoral Program (a collaborative venture of STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology Program) continued to develop in a satisfactory way. We are particularly pleased that three HSSST students completed their PhDs this year. Dr. Gregory Galer has been employed at Stonehill College since 1998 and is currently curator of the Stonehill Industrial History Center. Dr. Kendall Hoyt will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University next year. Dr. Barbara Masi is director of education assessment for the School of Engineering at MIT. HSSST doctoral students Shane Hamilton and David Lucsko passed their general exams. Present and incoming students received a variety of grants and fellowships, including fellowships from the Dibner Institute.

The HSSST Doctoral Program received 74 applications for the 2002-2003 academic year. In total, six students accepted, among them our five top choices. One applicant selected for admission declined our offer solely for personal reasons (wanted to take time off to decide educational goals).

Projects, Grants, and Initiatives

A workshop entitled "Culture Goes Public" was organized by Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science Studies Hugh Gusterson and sponsored by MIT's Anthropology Program.Fifteen anthropologists from all over the country attended the workshop to discuss how anthropologists might respond to discussions of race, globalization, war, ethnic strife, and social stratification by prominent neoconservative and neoliberal public intellectuals. The final product will be an edited volume. Funding from the dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences enabled this workshop to be held.

Professor Hammonds continues her work with the MIT Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine in the United States with funds provided by the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Professor Kaiser received an grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to head a 19-member workshop, "Training Scientists, Crafting Science: Putting Pedagogy on the Map for Science Studies." The workshop met in the spring of 2002 and will meet again in fall 2002 to discuss and analyze original pre-circulated papers. Following the workshop, Kaiser will edit the resulting volume.

Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Human Development Kenneth Keniston continued his research on cultural aspects of software localization. In addition, Keniston continues to work with the Equity, Diversity, and Information Technology working group.

Professor Mindell continues his research on technology, archaeology, and the deep sea.

Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Sociology of Science Sherry Turkle received an extension from the Kapor Foundation to continue the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Turkle continues "Relational Artifacts" research with support from the NSF. In addition, she has received an extension from the Spencer Foundation to continue working on the Adolescent, Technology, and Identity conference, which will result in the publication of a series of papers.

Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing Rosalind Williams received a grant from the NSF to form a working group "Rethinking Information Technology after September 11." The working group met for two days in the Spring 2002 to discuss the implications for research, education, and public engagement among historians and social scientists in technology studies following the events of September 11 and their aftermath.

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Educational Activities

The STS Program offered 21 undergraduate subjects and 22 graduate subjects in AY2002. Undergraduate enrollment totaled 347 (fall 170; spring 177). Graduate enrollment totaled 158 (fall 104; spring 54). (Note that actual enrollments are somewhat higher, as our "joint" subjects reflect only the students who registered under the STS number.)

STS currently has 3 undergraduate majors, 2 minors, and 27 concentrators.

Freshman Advisor Seminars were offered by Associate Professor Deborah Fitzgerald (Viewing the Industrial Revolution in Boston) and Professor Evelyn Fox Keller (Thinking about One's Self). Undergraduate Seminars were offered by Dr. Stiefel (Engineering in the Real World) and STS Visiting Lecturer Dr. Aaron Brody (Maritime Technology and Society in the Ancient Mediterranean). Two of our doctoral students taught very successful undergraduate reading seminars: Mr. Lucsko, The Automobile in America (enrollment: 16); and Mr. Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Writings about Biomedicine: Law, Ethics, and Practice (enrollment: 7).

New STS classes for 2001-2002 included the graduate subjects "Is Technology Eradicating Nature?" (Professor Williams and the emeritus Kenan professor of American cultural history, Senior Lecturer Leo Marx); the joint STS/HST "Social Studies of BioSci and BioTech" (Professor Michael Fischer, with Harvard University professors Byron and MaryJo Good); and the undergraduate subject "Industrial Landscapes" (Professor Fitzgerald).

Professor Keniston's "Introduction to India" class prepared three undergraduates for summer internships in India as part of the MIT India Program, which he directs. Professor Kaiser continues to offer the writing workshop for HSSST doctoral students that he began last year. The sessions provide informal opportunity for students to get feedback from their peers on conference papers, potential articles, and dissertation chapters.

The STS Program received approval from the HASS Overview Committee to designate three existing subjects as HASS Communication Intensive (CI-H). They are STS.001 Technology in American History (Leverett Howell and William King Cutten Professor of the History of Technology Merritt Roe Smith); STS.002: Toward the Scientific Revolution (Professor Kaiser); and STS.042 Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Feynman" (Professor Kaiser). That brings STS's CI-H total to five subjects. STS.042 was also approved as a Communication Intensive-Major (CI-M) requirement for the 8B track in the Physics Department.

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Special Events

The STS Program commemorated its 25th anniversary with a symposium on October 31 that represented the broad interests and involvement of the STS faculty. The celebration featured seven different STS presenters in two sessions. The wide range of topics touched on by the symposium speakers sought to integrate knowledge across the very different fields of science and engineering and humanities and social sciences—a goal which has served as the very basis of the STS program since its inception in 1976. Lecturers included Professors Dumit, Fitzgerald, Gusterson, Hammonds, Kaiser, Mindell, and Turkle. The day-long symposium was followed by a reception at the MIT Museum.

speakers at the 25th Anniversary Celebration
Speakers at the 25th Anniversary Celebration included Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Professor Leo Marx, Professor Merrit Roe Smith, who gave the opening address, and Professor Sherry Turkle.

This year's Siegel Prize for the best work by an MIT student in Science, Technology, and Society was awarded to HSSST graduate student Eden Miller for "Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation: Socialist Cybernetics in Allende's Chile." Ms. Miller is a student in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology doctoral program whose interests are primarily in the history of computing. She is an electrical engineer, with an undergraduate degree from Princeton, who is now doing research in 20th century information technology. The committee was impressed with the quality and depth of the submissions received for this year's Siegel Prize competition from students in MIT's departments and programs. The number of submissions jumped from 8 last year to 25 this year, an impressive increase.

Professor Emeritus Charles Weiner delivered this year's Annual Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics on May 6, 2002. Professor Weiner's research, writing, and teaching focus on the political, social, and ethical dimensions of contemporary science and the involvement of scientists in public controversies arising from their work. Professor Weiner's Miller Lecture was entitled "The Troubled Helix: Ethical Conflicts and Political Choices in the New Biology. Historical Perspectives on the Current Crisis."

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Colloquia Series and Special Lectures

The STS Colloquia series, headed this year by Professor Smith, brought 10 speakers from institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley, MIT, Harvard University, Rice University, and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. A wide range of topics was covered, including "The Digital City: IT as Process and Globalization as Outcome," "Can Eugenics Be Morally Right and Politically Correct? The Case of Thalessemia Screening in Cyprus," "Hydrology as Myth and Science: The American Experience," "Everything Begins in the Ocean – Including Science," and "Three Roots of Human Recency: Molecular Anthropology, the Refigured Acheulean, and the UNESCO Response to Auschwitz."

Another important event, the 2002 Morison Prize Lecture, was delivered on May 2, 2002, by Daniel Callahan of The Hastings Center and was entitled, "Saving Ourselves from Ourselves: The Uses and Limits of Technology."

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Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program

Now entering their twentieth year, the Knight Fellowships continue to attract science journalists from around the world to learn more about the science and technology they cover. During his fourth year as director of the Program, Boyce Rensberger organized a week-long intensive fellowship on molecular biology for science journalists, as well as a five-day intensive fellowship on medical evidence.

The twentieth class of fellows includes Pamela Asigi Andiba, senior reporter for Nation Broadcasting, Kenya; Ruth Helena Bellinghini, science reporter and assistant editor for O Estado de S. Paulo, Brazil; Chen May Yee, reporter for The Asian Wall Street Journal, Malaysia; Alessandro Greco, freelance science writer, Brazil; Trisha Gura, freelance science writer, chiefly for Science, Nature and New Scientist; Annalee Newitz, culture editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian; David Paterson, producer of science and medical documentaries, England; Adam Rogers, general editor for Newsweek; Lauren Slater, freelance journalist, award-winning author of Welcome to My Country, Prozac Diary, Lying, and Love Works Like This; Clive Thompson, Canadian freelance writer and producer, columnist for Canada's Report on Business magazine, editor at large for Shift magazine, and a frequent commentator on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Fellows attend over 60 seminars with faculty, which are specially organized for them, as well as other seminars and workshops devoted to science and technology and their wider impacts. The fellowships are supported by an endowment contributed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami and by alumni and foundation gifts.

More information about the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships can be found at

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Professional Activities

Professor Fischer published the articles "Filmic Judgment and Cultural Critique: The Work of Art, Ethics, and Religion in Iranian Cinema" in Religion and Media, edited by Hent de Vries and Samuel Weber; "In the Science Zone: The Yanomamo and the Fight for Representation" in Anthropology Today; and "Ethnographic Critique and Technoscientific Narratives: The Old Mole, Ethical Plateaux, and the Governance of Emergent Biosocial Polities" in Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. He served on the HSSST PhD admissions committee and on the HASS AI and Middle East Working Group on New Methodologies for Terror Reduction. Professor Fischer attended the National Academy of Sciences of Iran and US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Institute of Medicine conference and the American Anthropological Association Meetings in Washington, DC. Professor Fischer serves as advisor to six HSSST graduate students, is on two thesis committees, and serves on a PhD dissertation committee in the Department of Architecture.

Professor Fitzgerald organized and co-chaired (with Professor Harriet Ritvo) the Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar called "Modern Times, Rural Places," which brought 15 speakers to the program for lectures and meetings with graduate students. She was chair of the Committee on Academic Performance and chair of the Gender Equity Committee for SHASS (co-chair with Professor Jean Jackson for part of the year). She was also a member of the MIT Museum's Collections Committee and a freshman advisor. Professor Fitzgerald introduced a new undergraduate class, Industrial Landscapes, and published an article, "Accounting for Change: Modernity and Agriculture," in Robert Johnston and Catherine Stock's The Countryside in the Age of the Modern State. Her book Yeoman No More is forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Professor Gusterson published the articles "The McNamara Complex" in Anthropological Quarterly, "Elites: Anthropology of" in The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, "An Hour With Noam Chomsky" in Interventions, and "Tall Tales and Deceptive Discourses" in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He was also program chair for the annual meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), a 4S council member, and treasurer of the American Ethnological Society, as well as serving on selection committees for the National Science Foundation and MIT's Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program. Professor Gusterson was named the next director of graduate studies for the HSSST Doctoral Program.

Professor Hammonds continued as secretary of the MIT faculty; served on the Council on Faculty Diversity and the Task Force on Minority Student Achievement; co-authored the Reports of the Committees on the Status of Women Faculty at MIT; served on three doctoral dissertation committees; organized for the sixth year the Joint MIT/Harvard Workshop on "Race" in the Histories of Science, Medicine and Technology; continued research on two book projects; gave twelve invited lectures, including the centennial lecture of the Wadsworth Research Center of the New York State Department of Health; presented papers at three national conferences, including three invited papers at the annual meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science; and served on one NSF review panel for the ADVANCE Program. She was named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. She served as a consultant to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Spelman College, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation; served as a member of the Higher Education Panel of the Building Engineering and Scientific Talent Project (BEST); served as a consultant on three film projects (two on race and science); served on the program committee of the Berkshire Conference of Women's Historians. Professor Hammonds led three research workshops on race and/in the history of science, medicine and technology during the spring term, with a total of 50 scholars attending. Professor Hammonds organized the National Initiative on Minority Women Scientists and Engineers meeting which was held at MIT, January 18-19, 2002.

Professor Kaiser has been preparing two edited volumes for publication, and completed three articles for publication. He delivered five invited lectures and colloquia across the country, and three lectures at national conferences. He also hosted the first of a two-part international conference at MIT on the history of the physical sciences. During the year, he received research grants from NSF and the Spencer Foundation, with the aid of which he is currently completing his first book.

Professor Keller was awarded a medal from the Italian Senate in October 2001, was a Moore Scholar at Caltech during the spring 2002 semester, and received a Dibner Fellowship for spring 2003. Making Sense of Life appeared in April, and The Century of the Gene was translated into German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, and French. She also had three new articles appear in edited volumes.

Professor Keniston was Sir Ashutosh Mukerjee Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore from September 2001 through January 2002, and lectured at a number of Indian institutions, including IIT-Chennai, IIT-Mumbai, IIT-Kanpur, Administrative Staff College of India-Hyerabad, and private firms. During that period, he delivered the Second M.N. Srinivas Memorial Lecture, "IT for the Common Man." Professor Keniston focused his research on information technology, examining such topics as Indic language software and, more recently, on Indian projects and research to close the "digital divide" within India and between India and the so-called Northern nations. With department head Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala (Indian Institute of Technology) and Deepak Kumar (Dy Editor, Software diOxide), he is currently editing a book called "Bridging the Digital Divide: Lessons from India," which will be published by Sage (Delhi) in 2002. Professor Keniston directed the MIT India Program, whose long-term goal is increasing the presence of India on the MIT campus. In addition to teaching two STS courses this spring, he also organized the 2002 Morison Prize and Lectureship in Science, Technology, and Society.

Professor Mindell's book War Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor was awarded the Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology for the best book in the field accessible to students and a popular audience. His paper "Opening Black's Box: Rethinking Feedback's Myth of Origin" was awarded the IEEE Life Member's Prize in Electrical History by SHOT as well. Mindell was also awarded a $200,000 grant from the Ocean Exploration Program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for advanced development of autonomous underwater vehicles for archaeological exploration in deep water. Mindell's "DeepArch" research group held its second conference this spring on "Technology, Archaeology, and the Deep Sea," which was attended by archaeologists, engineers, oceanographers, and policy makers from around the world, discussing the emerging new science of deep sea archaeology.

Professor Smith's book Inventing America: A History of the United States was completed this spring and is expected to be widely used by next fall. He served as a member of the HSSST Doctoral Program's graduate admissions committee, the board of advisors for the MIT Museum, and the Lemelson-MIT Prize and Lifetime Achievement Award committee. Professor Smith presented several public lectures over the past year, including "Army Engineers and the Industrial Revolution in America" at the US Military Academy, "War, Technology, and Economy: Rethinking the Origins of the Industrial Revolution in America" at the University of Colorado—Boulder, and "A Deadly Invention: The Impact of Rifled Weaponry in the American Civil War" to MIT alumni and other travelers aboard the Mississippi Queen. In addition, he served on the visiting committee for the School of History, Technology and Society, Ivan Allen College, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was primary advisor to two students, served on the dissertation committees for another two students, and was a general examination committee member for three different graduate students. Professor Smith will be stepping down as director of the STS Program on July 1, 2002.

Professor Turkle worked as the director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Among the activities of the initiative during this past year were an ongoing open workshop series on "Evocative Objects," focusing on specific objects that cause us to think differently about categories like self, other, intention, desire, emotion, the natural, the artificial, and the body. Some of the Evocative Objects presentations of AY2002 have explored robotic toys, wearable computers, digital archives, and Prozac pills. Mitchell Kapor, a major donor, presented an Evocative Objects workshop on "Lindenworld," his new virtual community. The initiative also sponsors working groups in specific thematic areas. Current working groups include: adolescence, technology, and identity; psychopharmacology and identity; design, space, and software; and robotic creatures and human identity. Next year there will be new working groups in nanotechnology and self, information technology and professional identities, the archive: physical and digital, gender, technology, and identity, and psychodynamic issues in digital culture. Both the Evocative Objects workshops and the working groups have drawn students, faculty and staff participation from across all schools of the Institute. Professor Turkle received funding from the NSF for research on relational artifacts and is conducting ongoing research in the area of robotics, digital pets, and simulated creatures, particularly those designed for children and the elderly.

Professor Williams served as director of graduate studies for the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HSSST) Doctoral Program. She completed her book manuscript "Retooling: A Historian Confronts Technological Change," which will be published by the MIT Press.She also helped MIT respond to 9/11 by organizing a teach-in in October, an IAP activity on implications for MIT's educational mission, and a workshop in March, sponsored by the NSF, on "Rethinking Technology after September 11," as well as publishing a comment in Technology and Culture ("A Technological World We Can Live In"). She is also chairing the finance committee for the Society for the History of Technology. Finally, on the day after commencement she was made an honorary member of the Association of Alumni and Alumnae of MIT. Professor Williams will become director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society on July 1, 2002.

Merritt Roe Smith
Cutten Professor of the History of Technology

More information about the Program in Science, Technology, and Society can be found on the web at


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