Science, Technology, and Society

This report focuses on the multiple activities of faculty and students in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) during the past year. Their teaching, learning, and service are, however, made possible only through the extraordinary support provided by the STS staff. STS is fortunate to have some long-standing staff members, such as Debbie Meinbresse and Judy Spitzer, who have provided expertise and institutional memory for more than one generation of faculty and for several generations of graduate students. STS has also been fortunate in having some excellent younger staff members who have collaborated with energy and good will in developing a more team-based approach to faculty and student support.

This evolution toward a more cohesive staff has been led by Deb Fairchild, who became the administrative officer for STS in the fall of 2002. Deb arrived with deep knowledge of institutional procedures and equally deep dedication to serving the program and Institute. With persistence and hard work, she has rationalized our financial procedures and organized the rest of the staff around well-defined roles and responsibilities. Her contribution is a reminder of the critical role played by MIT staff in making possible the achievements of everyone at the Institute. I am pleased to have this opportunity to express my gratitude, on behalf of STS, to all of them.

If there is a theme running through this report, it is the effort of STS to follow the admonition of E. M. Forster (in his novel Howard's End): "Only connect." Forster believed this was the only way for human beings to thrive in a rapidly changing world. It is certainly the only way for an interdisciplinary program like STS to thrive in a world where the relationships of science, technology, and society become ever more numerous, complex, and significant. As a dozen-odd faculty and about double that number of graduate students, we cannot begin to address those relationships by ourselves. More and more we are trying to work with other institutions and especially with other units at MIT. In the report that follows, you can find multiple examples of such linkages, including, at MIT alone, the Physics Department, the Health Science and Technology Program, the Engineering Systems Division, the Dibner Institute, the Technology and Policy Program, Women's Studies, and the new Science Writing graduate program. Through such connections, we are leveraging our programmatic resources to make a positive difference in a world dominated by STS issues.

Doctoral Program

The doctoral program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HSSST) is the prime example of how STS succeeds through connecting. The HSSST Program is a collaborative one involving STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology Program; it continues to thrive as one of the handful of preeminent STS programs in the world. In the summer of 2002, associate professor Hugh Gusterson (who has a joint appointment in STS and Anthropology) assumed the role of director of graduate studies. With the first-rate assistance of Shirin Fozi, graduate student coordinator, Professor Gusterson did a superb job in welcoming new students, running the admissions process, chairing the Graduate Steering Committee, and handling the always wide range of graduate student issues that inevitably arise.

This year, the doctoral program received 91 applications for the fall of 2003. Four students will be entering the HSSST program in September. Three of the four come from our top pool of six students initially offered admission.

Three students completed their graduate studies in academic year 2003. Dr. Kaushik Sunderrajan will take up a tenure-track position in anthropology at the University of California at Irvine after a postdoctoral year at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Heinrich Schwarz is already teaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder in a tenure-track position in communications. Dr. Brendan Foley will pursue his interests in deep-sea archaeology in an expedition in the Mediterranean this summer and will become a postdoctoral fellow in the Woods Hole Marine Policy Center in the fall.

Timothy Wolters is finishing his dissertation while on a fellowship year at the Smithsonian and has accepted a tenure-track position at the Utah State University beginning September 2004. Mr. Wolters won the 2002 Levinson Prize from the Society for the History of Technology for the best paper by a graduate student.

Indeed, students in the doctoral program had a banner year in terms of awards and fellowships. Jessica Eden Miller received the 2003–2004 Tomas Dissertation Fellowship from the Charles Babbage Institute, a Mellon Dissertation Fellowship from the Council on Library and Information Resources, and an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant. Shane Hamilton and David Lucsko were also awarded NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants. William Turkel received the John S. Hennessey Fellowship from the Graduate Students Office at MIT, and Anya Zilberstein was awarded a grant from the Center for International Studies to fund a Pacific history reading group that she has founded. Natasha Myers was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellowship that runs from 2002 to 2006.

Rachel Prentice won a Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship from MIT. Jenny Smith received an International Research and Exchanges Board grant that will allow her to do archival research in Russia during the coming year. Anne Pollock received a human rights internship for the summer and an honorable mention in the competition for MIT's John S. W. Kellett Award. Alexander (Sandy) Brown won MIT's Kristen E. Finnegan Prize. Dibner Institute Graduate Fellows for the coming year are Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Lucsko, Ms. Miller, and Chen-Pang Yeang. Mr. Hamilton was also given an Edward E. Everetts Award from the Agricultural History Society and was awarded the Siegel Prize by STS.

The Siegel Prize is an award of $2,000 for the best essay on issues relating to Science, Technology, and Society written by an MIT student in the previous year. The Siegel Prize Committee was chaired by Andrew W. Mellon professor of human development Kenneth Keniston (STS) and included associate professor Joseph Dumit (STS) and J. R. East professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems Joseph Sussman (Civil and Environmental Engineering). The committee reported that this year's 17 entries were of unusually high quality, covered a wide range of departments and interests, and included submissions from the Schools of Architecture and Planning, Engineering, Science, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

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Projects, Grants, and Initiatives

Leo Marx career development assistant professor of the history and culture of science David Kaiser conducted a workshop, "Training Scientists, Crafting Science: Educational Formation in the Physical Sciences, 1800–2000," funded by the Spencer Foundation and the NSF in September 2002. In addition, Professor Kaiser continued his work on "The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics" with funding from NSF.

Professor Keniston continued his research on cultural aspects of software localization.

Francis and David Dibner associate professor of the history of engineering and manufacturing and MacVicar Fellow associate professor of engineering systems David Mindell continued his research on technology, archaeology, and the deep sea with a grant from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Abby Rockefeller Mauzé professor of the sociology of science Sherry Turkle received an extension from the Kapor Foundation to continue the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle continues "Relational Artifacts" research with support from the NSF. In addition, she is in the process of editing a publication that will include papers presented at the Conference on the Adolescent, Technology, and Identity, which was sponsored by the Spencer Foundation.

Professors Dumit, Gusterson, Mindell, Susan Silbey (Anthropology), and Turkle received a grant from the NSF to investigate the effects of new information technologies on professional identities and the conduct of scientific and professional work. They will host a conference in September 2003 to explore areas where there has been a rethinking of the nature of the disciplines as a result of the introduction of visualization and simulation.

Professor Loren Graham received a grant from the NSF to study changes in the organization of the scientific workforce and financing of the basic sciences in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

STS and History cosponsored a workshop, "Race, Science, and Culture in 20th Century East Asia and America," funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (see Special Events for more on the workshop).

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Educational Activities

During the academic year, STS devoted a number of faculty meetings to discussion of our undergraduate program. In particular, we wanted to review the question of an undergraduate major. At present, STS does not offer an independent major—only a joint or double degree (as well as a minor and a concentration). A working group chaired by Leverett Howell and William King Cutten professor of the history of technology Merritt Roe Smith reviewed materials provided by Ms. Spitzer and presented the faculty with its recommendation that STS focus for now on collaborative undergraduate teaching projects rather than begin the time- and energy-consuming process of developing an independent major. The Smith group argued that well-chosen collaborative projects, in conjunction with other undergraduate offerings, would do more to reach a broad range of undergraduates than a major, which in the MIT environment would probably attract only few students.

The STS faculty accepted these recommendations. As noted in the faculty discussion, already many faculty members participate in successful collaborative teaching ventures. For example, Professor Kaiser's subject on "Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman" has been designated a CI-M (communication intensive) requirement for students majoring in the 8-B Physics track. (It is also designated as CI-H.) Half of Professor Mindell's teaching takes place in the Engineering Systems Division, in which he now has a joint appointment. Robert M. Metcalfe professor of writing Rosalind Williams contributes to the teaching of the "Advanced Science Writing Seminar" (with Professor Robert Kanigel) in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. Professor Evelyn Fox Keller collaborated with Professor David Marks, director of MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, to create a combination advanced seminar and public lecture on "Energy, Environment, and Global Politics," featuring guest speakers arranged with the help of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment and the Technology and Culture Forum. Professor Keniston's Introduction to India class prepared seven undergraduates for summer teaching internships in India as part of the MIT India Program, which he directs.

In addition, STS offers the following "joint" subjects: Professor Michael Fischer cotaught Social Studies of Bioscience and Biotechnology with physicians in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and he also cotaught Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier with Class of 1922 professor Harold Abelson of MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; lecturer Dr. Abha Sur taught a joint STS/Women's Studies subject on The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender; Professor Dumit taught a joint STS/Anthropology subject on Drugs, Politics, and Culture; and Professor Turkle's Systems and Self (cotaught with Associate Professor Mitchel Resnick) is a joint STS/MAS (MIT's Media Laboratory's Program in Media Arts and Sciences) offering. STS offers other joint subjects with History, with the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, and with the Department of Political Science.

The STS Program offered 18 undergraduate subjects and 19 graduate subjects in AY2003. Undergraduate enrollment totaled 420 (fall: 264; spring: 156). Graduate enrollment totaled 193 (fall: 117; spring: 76). Professor Gusterson's HASS-D class on American Science: Ethical Conflicts and Political Choices continues to draw the largest enrollment among STS subjects (87 students in fall 2002). The STS Program offers five HASS-D (distribution) classes and four CI-H classes. STS has three undergraduate majors, all of whom graduated this year. We have two minors and 39 concentrators (20 of whom graduated this year).

As always, STS faculty continue to experiment with new subject offerings. For example, on the undergraduate level, Professor Williams offered a new subject on Technology in a Dangerous World, with a follow-on reading seminar on Current Events from an STS Perspective. On the graduate level, new subjects were offered by Professor Smith (Technology in the Civil War Era and Classics in the History of Technology); Professors Dumit and Fischer (Ethnography); and Professor Turkle (Technology and Self).

STS faculty and visiting scholars offered five IAP events: "Can You Rely on Statistics to Make Important Life Decisions?"; "Pharmaceutical Advertising and You"; "Teaching Feynman's Tools: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics"; "'Creative Mischief': Doc Edgerton's Contributions to Underwater Archaeology"; "Exhibiting Race: Black Women and Men in Science and Technology."

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Colloquium Series

The STS Colloquium Series, organized this year by Professor Williams, brought 15 speakers from such institutions as the Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Georgetown University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and MIT. Topics included "The Perils of Science Journalism: Legal, Ethical and Artistic Conundrums," "Digital Collaborative Archives: Drawing Scientists into the Web of History," and "'Sedimental Journeys': Doc Edgerton's Engineering Collaborations."

The fall series began with a special colloquium on September 8 commemorating September 11. Professor Williams organized and moderated a forum on "MIT's Responsibility in a Dangerous World." The participants led a discussion of our responsibilities as individuals and as members of the MIT community in responding to the implications of 9/11. Another panel discussion in the series was organized by HSSST graduate students Aslihan Sanal (chair), Richa Kumar, Ms. Miller, Ms. Smith, and Livia Wick on the topic "Doing International Research after September 11." Professor Keniston served as commentator.

Two speakers in the series—Douglas M. Haynes (University of California at Irvine) and Rayvon Fouché (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)—were supported by funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that had been given in support of the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine (see below for more on the center). The title of Haynes' lecture was "'Keeping the Niggers Out': Policing the Racial Boundaries of the American Medical Association, 1847–1870." Fouché spoke on "From Analog to Digital: Race, Racism, and Technological Production." Writings by both Haynes and Fouché were distributed in advance of their lectures, and while on campus they had numerous interactions with faculty and students in STS and elsewhere at MIT.

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Special Events

On October 24, Debra Harry, a Northern Paiute from Pyramid Lake, Nevada, and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, delivered this year's Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics ("'It's Just a Little Blood . . .': Indigenous Perspectives on DNA Testing"). Ms. Harry discussed the tenuous relationship between indigenous communities and the gene hunters over the decade and whether and how genetic research can be carried out with integrity.

On April 25–26, STS and the History faculty cosponsored a Workshop on Race, Science, and Culture in 20th Century East Asia and America. Support for this workshop came from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which had funded the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine at MIT under the leadership of Professor Evelynn Hammonds. When Professor Hammonds departed for Harvard University in the summer of 2002, the Mellon Foundation generously allowed STS to retain some of the center's funds to support minority visitors and special projects. Such a project was the April 25–26 workshop, coorganized by Professor Williams and Chao professor of Asian civilization Peter Perdue (History Faculty). This stimulating workshop featured a keynote address by William Kirby, Giesinger professor at Harvard University (and dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences), and papers from MIT faculty such as Professor Perdue, assistant professor Christopher Capozzola (History), and Elting E. Morison professor John Dower (History); HSSST graduates such as Greg Clancy (University of Singapore); and scholars at other institutions working in these areas: Ronald K. Richardson (Boston University), Michael Adas (Rutgers), Kenji Ito (University of Tokyo), and Judy Wu (Ohio State). Given the success of this workshop, Professors Perdue and Williams are trying to organize follow-on activities with Mellon support.

On December 2, STS hosted a first-ever book party as a partly social, partly academic, and thoroughly enjoyable event to celebrate the recent publication of no less than six books by the following STS faculty, students, and visiting scholars: Slava Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics; Pauline Maier, Merritt Roe Smith, Alexander Keyssar, and Daniel J. Kevles, Inventing America: A History of the United States; Victor McElheny, Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution; David Mindell, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics; Sara Wermiel, Army Engineers' Contributions to the Development of Iron Construction in the 19th Century; and Rosalind Williams, Retooling: A Historian Confronts Technological Change.

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Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program

Now entering their 21st 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 fifth year as director of the program, Boyce Rensberger organized a weeklong intensive fellowship in molecular biology for science journalists, as well as a trip to Cuba to meet with Cuban scientists, doctors, and government officials.

The 21st class of fellows includes Claudio Angelo, science writer for Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil's leading daily newspaper; Kevin Begos, Washington correspondent for the Winston-Salem Journal and other Media General newspapers; Rehana Dada, science television producer for South African Broadcasting Corporation; Dee Ann Divis, science and technology editor of United Press International; Pamela Ferdinand, New England correspondent of theWashington Post; Jessica Gorman, staff writer at the weekly Science News magazine; Hujun Li, science reporter at Southern Weekend, China's largest weekly newspaper; Steve Mirsky, articles editor and columnist at Scientific American magazine; Jackie Mow, an independent science television producer whose recent work has been on Nova and the Discovery Channel; and Debbie Ponchner, science writer at La Nación, Costa Rica's leading daily newspaper.

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 on the web at the

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Professional Activities

Professor Dumit's book, Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity, will be published by Princeton University Press this winter. He won the Levitan Prize in the Humanities, was awarded the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching for SHASS, and published two articles. He is the chair of the Pharmaceuticals and Identity Working Group (Initiative on Technology and Self at MIT) and a founding member of the Special Interest Group on the Anthropology of Pharmaceuticals in the American Anthropological Association. He coorganized a four-day workshop on "Patient-Organized Movements" in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is the assistant editor of Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry: An International Journal of Cross-Cultural Research.

Professor Fischer completed the following two volumes for Duke University Press: Emergent Forms of Life and the Anthropological Voice, forthcoming fall 2003; and Mute Dreams, Blind Owls, and Dispersed Knowledges: Persian Poesis in the Transnational Circuitry, forthcoming spring 2004. He is also completing an edited special issue for Configurations and several reviews of recent books. He taught five subjects and served as dissertation advisor to six HSSST graduate students and thesis advisor to one CMS graduate student.

AssociatepProfessor Deborah Fitzgerald was on leave this year. Her book, Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture, was published by Yale University Press. She was promoted to the rank of professor, elected vice president/president elect of the Agricultural History Society, and served on MIT's Collections Committee and Commencement Committee.

Professor Loren Graham finished a book manuscript (tentatively entitled "Running around Red Square") and gave several lectures. One of his previous books, A Face in the Rock, was set to symphonic music by composer Robert Mueller and was performed by the Midland Symphony Orchestra on April 12; both Graham and Mueller presented talks on the stage before the performance. As a member of the American Philosophical Society, he arranged for a portrait to be made of the first female member of that society—the 18th-century scholar and writer Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, who was nominated for membership by Benjamin Franklin—and placed in Philosophical Hall in Philadelphia.

Professor Gusterson published the following three articles: "The Death of the Authors of Death," in Peter Galison and Mario Biagioli, eds., Scientific Authorship (Routledge); "Anthropology and the Military: Consult or Contest," in Anthropology Today; and "American Ground Zero" in GSC Quarterly. He also published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. He was chair of the Rachel Carson Book Prize Committee, a member of the 4S Council, treasurer for the American Ethnological Society, a member of the editorial board of Anthropological Quarterly, and director of graduate studies for HSSST.

Mellon professor emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania and distinguished visiting professor in MIT's STS Program Thomas Hughes was one of 77 new members elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). On March 17, the STS Program cosponsored—with the dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences—a dinner in honor of Tom Hughes' election to NAE. Hughes was the first historian of technology to be named to the NAE.

Professor Kaiser published an edited volume comparing the history of modern physics in various political cultures and completed a draft of his book, Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics (forthcoming by University of Chicago Press). He is preparing an edited volume, Pedagogy and the Practice of Science (MIT Press), which grew out of an international conference that was hosted at MIT during September 2002. He delivered invited lectures throughout the country and led an MIT Alumni Tour to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he lectured on the history of the Manhattan Project and postwar physics. He continues to work with several collaborators in MIT's Physics Department, slowly but surely cracking the last remaining mysteries of the universe.

Professor Keller published the following three articles: "Models, Simulation, and 'Computer Experiments,'" in The Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation; "Developmental Robustness," in Contextualizing the Genome; and "Coming of Age," in Literature, Science, Psychoanalysis, 1830–1970: Essays in Honour of Gillian Beer. Her most recent book, Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines, has been translated into French, Chinese, and Italian, and her previous book, Century of the Gene, has been translated into German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, French, Turkish, Taiwanese, and Spanish. She spent the spring semester at the Dibner Institute and organized a workshop on "Getting Beyond Genes, Neurons, and Individual Minds" at the University of Minneapolis in March.

Professor Keniston continues his research on the use of information and communication technologies to promote development. He introduced a new graduate seminar on "IT Information Technology and Development" and (with visiting professor Jill Ker Conway) taught a graduate subject, Introduction to Controversies in Environmental Studies. He delivered several lectures in India. At MIT, he chaired the Siegel Prize Committee, served as a member of the MIT Committee on Community, and continued as director of the MIT India Program, which received a grant from the National Science Foundation to send MIT graduate students for summer internships to Indian research centers.

Professor Mindell's book, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics, was published (Johns Hopkins, 2002). He spent much of the year developing a spread-spectrum navigation sonar to be used with underwater vehicles for precision surveys of underwater sites. It will be first used in a series of expeditions to excavate and document ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Mindell is the research group project leader and principal investigator for MIT's Deepwater Archaeology Research Group (DeepArch). DeepArch hosted the marine advanced technology in education national underwater robotics competition for high school and college students in June and held a public lecture series during the year with three lectures and panel discussions on the deepest dive in history, excavating high technology from the Civil War, and archaeology and telepresence.

Professor Smith's coauthored textbook, Inventing America: A History of the United States, is about to enter a second edition. Smith was a jury member of the Lemelson-MIT Prize and Lifetime Achievement Award Committee and also organized and participated in a two-day workshop on "Historical Perspectives on Invention and Creativity" sponsored by the Lemelson-MIT Center. He served as coprincipal investigator (with Professors Daniel Hastings and Kenneth Oye) of an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant proposal currently pending at the NSF; served on the Science Writing Program's graduate admissions committee; and was a faculty fellow at MacGregor House's J-Entry living area. He gave several university lectures, served as respondent to the Dibner Institute Distinguished Lecture by Nobel laureate Kenneth Wilson, chaired a session at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology in Toronto, and hosted Gods and Generals (the Boston preview of a major motion picture about the American Civil War written and directed by Mr. Ron Maxwell). He is the primary advisor of one HSSST graduate student and serves on the dissertation committees of five others.

Professor Turkle continues her work as director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. The initiative sponsored several events, including the Evocative Objects Seminar Series (which focuses on how material culture causes us to think differently about ourselves and others and about such categories as the natural and the artificial) and "Whither Psychoanalysis in Digital Culture?" (a preconference series consisting of four seminars and two dinner meetings held in collaboration with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, which set the stage for a conference to be held in September 2004). Professor Turkle continues her research on "relational artifacts" in the area of robotics, digital pets, and simulated creatures, particularly those designed for children and the elderly. She is principal investigator of a newly funded NSF project, Information Technologies and Professional Identity: A Comparative Study of the Effects of Virtuality, which explores the challenges that scientific and technical disciplines face as they incorporate simulation and visualization technologies as tools in the production of knowledge.

Professor Williams became director of the STS Program on July 1, 2002. Her book, Retooling: A Historian Confronts Technological Change, was published by MIT Press (2002). She was elected vice president (2003–2005) and president elect (2005–2007) of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) at their annual meeting in Toronto in October 2002. She organized a SHOT plenary session with Professor Miriam Levin (Case Western Reserve University), which resulted in a special issue coedited with Professor Levin of History and Technology vol. 19, no. 1 (March 2003): "Forum on Rethinking Technology in the Aftermath of September 11." Professor Williams coorganized the MIT workshop on "Race, Science, and Culture in 20th Century East Asia and America." She participated in several workshops and symposiums held at MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut in Essen, Germany.

Rosalind H. Williams
Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing

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


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