MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Program in Science, Technology, and Society

The Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) passed an important milepost in 1994-95. In June, the Doctoral Program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HSSST) awarded the Ph.D. degree to its first four graduates. In a dismal job market, three of the new graduates have found employment: Dr. Brian O'Donnell is assistant professor of history at the University of Detroit-Mercy, Dr. George O'Har is assistant professor of American studies at Boston College, and Dr. Wade Roush is the Boston correspondent for Science. The fourth, Dr. Jessica Wang, has a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in science and technology studies at the University of Minnesota.


In its seventh year, the HSSST Doctoral Program (a collaborative venture of STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology/Archeology Program) continued to develop in a satisfactory way. Present and incoming students received a variety of grants, including Dibner, Javits, Mellon, National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Science and Engineering Research Council (Canadian government) fellowships. The Program received 59 applications for the 1995-96 academic year. Four of the applicants accepted admission to the Doctoral Program. Important roles in the Program were played by Professors Kenneth Keniston (Director of Graduate Studies; STS), Jean Jackson (Anthropology/Archeology Program), and Peter Perdue (History Faculty), all of whom were members of the Doctoral Program Steering Committee. As Director of the STS Program, Professor Merritt Roe Smith also served on the Doctoral Program Steering Committee.


The STS Program received $428,000 in grants for new and continuing research projects during the 1994-95 academic year. Associate Professor Deborah Fitzgerald received funds from the NSF for her continuing research, "Yeoman No More: The Industrialization of American Agriculture," which places the scientific and technical transformation of American agriculture in the 1920s within the broader framework of industrialization. Professor Loren Graham received a three-year grant, "Democracy and Science in Russia and the Former Soviet Union: An Historical Investigation," from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund continued archival research which will result in a book on democracy and science in Russia. Professor Graham also received a three-year continuation grant from the MacArthur Foundation for his project "Science and Technology with a Human Face" which will support activities on the project. Based on a Sloan Foundation grant that will total $1.754 million over eight years, "Integrating the American Past: A New Narrative History of the United States" is a project that aims at producing a one volume narrative history of the United States that addresses processes of technological and scientific change and integrates them into the mainstream of the American experience. The resulting study is intended for the general public as well as for introductory college level survey courses in American history. The project is headed by Professor Smith and includes Professors Pauline Maier (MIT), Alex Keyssar (Duke University), and Daniel Kevles (California Institute of Technology) as primary authors. In the third and final year of the project on Humanistic Perspectives on the Environment supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Professor Emeritus Leo Marx, Professor Keniston, and Visiting Professor Jill Conway organized eight workshops at MIT on the theme of "Environmental Movements." Three graduate seminars on environmental topics were taught by the three project leaders. The project also provided support for two HSSST graduate students working on the environment. The fifth (and final) year of the Mellon Project on the History and Social Study of the Life Sciences focused on "From Molecular Power to Biological Wisdom: Challenges and Needs in Historical and Social Studies of 20th Century Life Sciences" and was headed by Associate Professor Lily E. Kay. In addition to a well-attended workshop on the year's theme, the project also supported a public lecture by Dr. Francisco Varela, Director of Research at CNRS in France, entitled "Science in the '90s: The Re-enactment of Organizational and Historical Principles in Modern Neuroscience and Immunology."


The STS Program's educational work continued at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. In all, the Program offered 27 undergraduate subjects and 29 graduate subjects during the past academic year. Undergraduate enrollments totaled 463 (fall: 279; spring: 184). STS offered two new undergraduate subjects: "Identity and the Internet" (Professor Sherry Turkle) and "Big Plans" (Professors Fitzgerald and Jean de Monchaux). On the graduate level, one new seminar was introduced: "Topics in Early Modern Science" (Professors Jed Buchwald and Kenneth Manning). During the 1994-95 academic year there were 2 majors, 12 minors, and 64 concentrators (classes of 1995-1997) in STS.


The 1994 Siegel Prize in Science, Technology, and Society was awarded to Mr. Gregory Clancey of the HSSST doctoral program for his paper entitled "Architecture in Action." Mr. David Mindell, also an HSSST student, received Honorable Mention for his paper. The 8th Annual Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics was held on September 26, 1994. Dr. Leon Kass, a noted ethicist-physician who teaches at the University of Chicago, was this year's speaker. His talk, "The Problem of Technology," dealt with the ethical and social issues that surround recent developments in biotechnology. A day-long symposium was held on October 3, 1994 to honor Professor Leon Trilling and acknowledge his many contributions to the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Aero/Astro), STS, and the MIT community. In addition to opening comments by Professors Smith (STS) and Earll Murman (Aero/Astro), seven speakers gave talks ranging from the History of Course XVI to the History of NASA. Professor Trilling is among a select number of MIT engineers who have invested themselves in bridging disciplines in the arts, engineering, humanities, and sciences.


In its fifth year, the STS Colloquia Series continued to be a core activity of the HSSST Doctoral Program. The series brought 25 speakers to MIT from such institutions as Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Williams College, and the Smithsonian Institution. Beginning in February, 1995, several HSSST graduate students, under the supervision of Professor Smith, organized seven brown bag discussions with historians of technology to discuss their current works. The workshop topics ranged from "J.B. Aiken's Invention, Manufacture, and Promotion of the `Family Knitting Machine' 1850-1870" to "Criminal Anthropometry and Finger-Printing, 1880-1910."


The Program continued a number of activities that had been initiated in earlier years. In the Student Lunch Workshops graduate students meet bi-weekly to discuss their ongoing research and current literature in the history and social study of science and technology. The STS Newsletter, ably produced by staff member Mr. Graham Ramsay, continued with articles of general interest followed by news and notes on STS faculty, staff, and students. The STS Working Papers, under the editorship of Professor Keniston, continue to provide a means of disseminating early versions of work in progress.


Now entering their thirteenth year, the Knight Fellowships continue to attract science journalists from around the world to MIT to learn more about the research and innovation they cover. This class of Fellows includes five newspaper journalists from the United States and one from Canada, and reporters from both Japan and Korea. During their nine months on campus, Fellows attend some 60 seminars specially organized for them, as well as other seminars and workshops devoted to science and technology and their wider impacts. In 1994, the Institute completed a five year drive to endow the Fellowships, with the help of a $5 million challenge from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and $2.5 million raised by the Institute. Senior Research Associate Victor McElheny (Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program) continued his research for a biography of Edwin Land.


Professor Buchwald, Director of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, was named a MacArthur Prize Fellow this year. He published two articles during the past year and initiated a new journal entitled, Archimedes, and a new book series, Dibner Institute Studies in the History of Science and Technology. He was elected to voting membership of the International Academy of the History of Science and serves on the editorial advisory board of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. He also delivered lectures at Yale University and Stanford University. Effective July 1, 1995, he will chair the MIT Committee on Discipline. Professor Michael Fischer was on leave during the spring term to pursue research in India on science autobiographies and filmic judgment and cultural critique. He received a Fulbright grant to visit Brazil and, among other lectures, was invited to the University of California Humanities Center at Irvine. He organized and headed the joint MIT-Harvard Seminar in the Cultural Studies of the Biosciences and Biotechnologies and served on the Doctoral Program Admissions Committee, the Colloquium Committee, the Environmental Workshop Planning Committee and the Graduate Program Steering Committee. Professor Fitzgerald received tenure effective July 1, 1995. She continued to serve on the MIT Press Editorial Board and the HASS-D Overview Committee and also served on the Siegel Prize Committee. Her book project, "Yeoman No More," received funding from the NSF. In addition to delivering lectures at UNESCO Headquarters (Paris), Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Auburn University, she also serves on the Executive Council and Dexter Prize Committee of the Society for the History of Technology and 1995 Program Committee of the History of Science Society. Professor Graham was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society and named Donald Kendall Lecturer at Stanford University for 1995 (the latter, a series of three lectures to be published by Stanford University Press). During the past year he published an article in Privoda (a Russian journal on nature) and a book entitled A Face in the Rock: The Tale of a Grand Island Chippewa (Island Press/Shearwater Books). Graham's Institute service included membership on the search committees for the director of MIT Libraries and the Dibner Professor of History of Engineering and Manufacturing and the tenure committee for Professor Fitzgerald.

Assistant Professor Evelynn Hammonds spent the year as a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. Professor Kay published an article in Experimentalsysteme in den Biologische-Medizinischen Wissenschaften (Berlin 1995) and received an extension of her grant from NIH to continue work on a forthcoming book manuscript entitled Information and the Transformation of Molecular Biology. Her committee service at MIT included the Advisory Committee for the selection of a graduate dean and the Committee on Graduate Studies and Policies. She also served as the principal coordinator of the Mellon Foundation Fellowship and Workshop Program at MIT, the Advisory Committee to the American Philosophical Society Library, and the Committee on Honors and Prizes and Nominating Committee of the History of Science Society. Professor Evelyn Fox Keller received honorary degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Simmons College in 1995. Her book, Refiguring Life: Metaphors of Twentieth Century Biology, was published by Columbia University Press and another book, entitled Reflecting on Science, is in press. In addition to delivering numerous lectures around the country, she directed the Women's Studies Program at MIT and served on the Edgerton Prize Committee.

Professor Keniston published (with Dr. David Guston, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Rutgers University, formerly an MIT graduate student in Political Science) The Fragile Contract: University Science and the Federal Government (MIT Press, 1994). As Director of Graduate Studies, he chaired the HSSST Doctoral Program Steering Committee and the HSSST Admissions Committee and served on the Committee on Graduate School Policy. He is the Principal Investigator of the Mellon Foundation Project on the Life Sciences and the MacArthur Foundation Project on Humanistic Studies of the Environment. He also served on the Guggenheim Committee on Selection. Professor Theodore Postol was the recipient of the 1995 American Association for the Advancement of Science's Hilliard Roderick Prize in Science, Arms Control, and International Security. He published two articles during the past year and served as co-organizer of the Defense and Arms Control Program's seminar on Technology, Defense, and Arms Control. He received grants from the Ploughshares Fund, W. Alton Jones Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the MacArthur Foundation and delivered lectures at Stanford University, MITRE Corporation, the National Academy of Sciences, and Harvard University.

Professor Smith received the Leonardo da Vinci Medal from the Society for the History of Technology and a grant from the Sloan Foundation to undertake the writing of a textbook in American history that brings science and technology to the center of the story. He was the keynote speaker at the fiftieth anniversary of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and delivered the inaugural address to the Netherlands Graduate School in Science, Technology, and Modern Culture at Limburg University. He also lectured at the California Institute of Technology and the Technical University of Denmark. He also was elected a Trustee-at-Large of the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University. Professor Turkle published two articles during 1994-95 and a book entitled Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (Simon & Schuster). She delivered lectures at the annual meetings of the Society for the Social Studies of Science and the Association for Computer Supported Cooperative Work. She also serves on the boards of Science, Technology and Human Values and Harvard Magazine. Professor Charles Weiner was oral history consultant for the President's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. He lectured at the Edinburgh Science Festival and at the New England Genetics Conference. He was the organizer and moderator of three panels: "Scientists and the Cold War" at the History of Science Society Annual Meeting; "Los Alamos Scientists and Native American Culture" at MIT in connection with the List Art Center exhibition; and "The Atomic Bombs: Myth, Memory and History" at MIT's Technology and Culture Forum.

Merritt Roe Smith

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95