MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The 1995-96 academic year marks the end of a decade of leadership by Professors Kenneth Keniston and Merritt Roe Smith. Professor Keniston served as Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) from 1986 to 1992. During that period Professor Smith became the first Director of Graduate Studies. In January 1992, Professor Smith became Director of STS and Professor Keniston became Director of Graduate Studies. Under their leadership, the STS Program redefined its mission within the MIT community and established the Doctoral Program for the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HSSST) in concert with the History and Anthropology faculties. During the same period, the STS Program played an instrumental role in attracting the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology to the MIT campus. The presence of the Dibner Institute, coupled with strong faculty interest in graduate studies and the recruitment of first-rate graduate students, has resulted in making the Doctoral Program the best of its type in the world. Beginning July 1, 1996, the new Director of STS will be Professor Michael Fischer. He will be joined by Associate Professor Deborah Fitzgerald as Director of Graduate Studies. The Program's faculty search for the Frances and David Dibner Assistant (or Associate) Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing was brought to a successful close with the appointment of Dr. David A. Mindell. Dr. Mindell was unanimously recommended by the selection committee after they reviewed the dossiers of thirty-five candidates and intensively interviewed the top four prospects. The Doctoral Program graduated its fifth student this June when Dr. Mindell received his Ph.D.


In its eighth year, the HSSST Doctoral Program (a collaborative venture of STS, the History Faculty, and the Anthropology Program) continued to develop in a satisfactory way. Present and incoming students received a variety of grants and fellowships, including Dibner, Javits, Ida Green, National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The HSSST Doctoral Program received 76 applications for the 1996-97 academic year. Six of the seven students offered admission to the HSSST Doctoral Program have accepted and will be joining the program this fall. Important roles in the program were played by Professors Keniston (Director of Graduate Studies; STS), James Howe (Anthropology Program), and Peter Perdue (History Faculty), all of whom were members of the Doctoral Program Steering Committee. As Director of the STS Program, Professor Smith also served on the Doctoral Program Steering Committee.


Professor Keniston, Professor Emeritus Leo Marx, and Visiting Professor Jill Conway received a grant of $50,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support a seminar and workshop series on environmental issues viewed from cultural and humanistic perspectives. This grant, "Humanistic Perspectives on the Environment," will extend through the next two academic years. Work continued on the history textbook project, "Integrating the American Past: A New Narrative History of the United States," which is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (grant total: $1.754 million over eight years). The project is headed by Professor Smith and includes Professors Pauline Maier (MIT), Dan Kevles (California Institute of Technology), and Alex Keyssar (Duke University) as primary authors.


The STS Program's educational work continued at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. In all, the Program offered 25 undergraduate subjects and 28 graduate subjects during the past academic year. Undergraduate enrollments totaled 393 (fall: 172; spring: 221). STS offered one new undergraduate subject, "Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier" (Professors Harold Abelson and Fischer). On the graduate level, two new seminars were introduced: "Objectivity, Truth, and Scientific Rationality," (Professors Jed Buchwald and Edward Hall) and "Integrative Seminar in the Social, Cultural, and Historical Studies of Science and Technology" (Professors Fischer and Sherry Turkle). During the 1995-96 academic year there were 5 majors, 7 minors, and 50 concentrators (classes of 1996-2000) in STS. In addition to our course offerings, STS organized three undergraduate events during the 1995-96 academic year: an Open House during the Independent Activities Period (IAP) to give MIT students the opportunity to talk with some of our STS faculty and graduate students; the sponsorship, in collaboration with Political Science, of a film showing of "Brazil"; and an undergraduate dinner for majors, minors, and concentrators in STS was organized in April by Professor Fitzgerald, Undergraduate Academic Officer. Professor Rosalind Williams, Dean for Undergraduate Education at MIT, was the featured speaker at this dinner; Mr. Atsushi Akera, MIT alumnus in Course VI who is now a graduate student in the History and Sociology of Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, also addressed the group.


The 1995 Siegel Prize for the best work by an MIT student in science, technology, and society was shared by two students this year. Ms. Diane Greco, a third-year doctoral student in HSSST, was a co-winner of the prize for her paper, "From the Field to the Laboratory: Terrestrial Magnetism at Göttingen, 1833-1839." Ms. Mona Mourshed, a graduate student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning was a co-winner for her paper, "Rethinking Irrigation Technology Adoption: Lessons from the Egyptian Desert." Both winners received prizes of $1,000. The 9th Annual Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics was held on September 18, 1995. Dr. Renée Fox, Annenberg Professor of the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania and a sociologist of medicine for more than 40 years, was this year's speaker. Her talk, "After Thoughts: Continuing Sociological Reflections on Organ Transplantation," dealt with developments in the field of organ transplantation from a social and ethical point of view. The STS Program organized a symposium to honor the life and work of Professor Elting Morison and to commemorate his contributions to the history of technology and to MIT. Morison, who died in April 1995, was one of America's most distinguished historians, a founder of the field of the history of technology and, for most of his life, a member of the MIT faculty. With Professors Walter Rosenblith and Jerome Wiesner, he created the STS Program, which he directed and in which he taught. The symposium proceedings have been published as part of the STS Working Paper Series. The paper, "From Know-How to History: Symposium in Honor of Elting Morison," includes a forward by Professor Keniston and the entire program text of the symposium. On May 9, twelve members of the STS faculty, along with the directors of the Dibner Institute at MIT, attended a dinner meeting with faculty members from Harvard's History of Science Department. Professor Peter Galison, Chairman of Harvard's History of Science Department, organized this dinner meeting to give the faculty of all three groups the opportunity to discuss ways in which the three organizations can collaborate in the future. A follow-up meeting, hosted by STS faculty, is being planned for the fall.


In its sixth year, the STS Colloquia Series, headed this year by Professors Fischer and Turkle, continued to be a core activity of the HSSST Doctoral Program. The series brought 21 speakers to MIT from such institutions as Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, Harvard Medical School, Princeton, Rice, and the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. Beginning in February, 1996, five HSSST graduate students (Ms. Rebecca Herzig, Mr. Christopher Kelty, Ms. Hannah Landecker, Mr. Ted Metcalfe, and Mr. Heinrich Schwarz) organized seven workshops testing various interventions of cultural studies into technoscience, with emphasis on the study and practice of work, medicine, design, and technology. The topics discussed included race, sexuality, performance, global economic culture, colonialism, and work practices. The workshops served several purposes: to generate discussion about the various approaches to studying science and technology; to give the presenters feedback and questions about their specific projects; and to network across disciplines and schools. In addition to these regularly scheduled talks, the STS Program organized six special lectures throughout the year. Professor Smith arranged three special events for some of our HSSST doctoral students. He arranged for Professors Robert Friedel (University of Maryland) and Robert Post (Smithsonian Institution) (both Visiting Fellows at the Dibner Institute) to meet and discuss their research in an informal way with our students. He also arranged a meeting with our HSSST doctoral students and Professor John Staudenmaier (University of Detroit Mercy and Editor, Technology and Culture) to discuss how to get published in the history of technology. This spring he arranged for a group of our students to visit the Museum of American Textile History in Lowell to review an exhibit.


The Program continued a number of activities that had been initiated in earlier years. The STS Newsletter, ably produced biannually by staff member Ms. Sarah Trautmann, 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 fourteenth 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. The fourteenth class of Fellows includes six journalists from the United States and reporters from both Germany and Japan. During their nine months on campus, Fellows attend some 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. Senior Research Associate Victor McElheny, an experienced science journalist who has been Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program from its inception, continued writing a biography of Edwin Land, the inventor of instant photography (deceased 1991), who was for nearly 40 years a Visiting Institute Professor at MIT.


Professor Buchwald, Director of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology and a MacArthur Prize Fellow, chaired MIT's Committee on Discipline, and served on a tenure review committee and a faculty search committee. He also organized MIT's 1996 Physics Colloquium on "The Origin of Electric Waves." In addition to writing several articles, he edited Scientific Practice. Theories and Stories of Doing Physics (Chicago, 1995), and contributed two chapters. Professor Buchwald gave lectures at several universities, including the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and Utrecht University in Holland. He also became the co-editor (with Henk Bos) of the Archive for History of Exact Sciences (Springer). Professor Michael Fischer was named the new Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society effective July 1, 1996. He served on several STS and Institute committees, including a faculty search committee, a tenure review committee, HSSST Admissions Committee, and Film and Media Studies Planning Committee. Professor Fischer was Chair, Self-Study (Visiting Committee) for Institute for Liberal Arts at Emory University, and was the Editorial Co-convener of Late Editions annual workshop at Rice University. Professor Fischer organized and was co-convener of the 1995-96 STS Colloquia Series. He published four articles in journals and contributed to two volumes that are not yet published. Professor Fitzgerald was Undergraduate Advisor at STS during the spring term. She was named the new Director of Graduate Studies for the HSSST Doctoral Program effective July 1, 1996. She was a member of the Schuman Prize Committee of the History of Science Society and is Chair of the Program Committee of the Society for the History of Technology. Professor Fitzgerald is co-editor of the Johns Hopkins Press series on agricultural history.

Professor Loren Graham served on several Committees at MIT including the Search Committee (Director, MIT Libraries) and Search Committee (Dibner Professor in History of Technology and Manufacturing). At MIT, he chaired the Tenure Committee for Associate Professor Lily Kay and the Promotion Committee for Assistant Professor Elizabeth Wood. He administers grants from the Sloan Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to other professional activities, he serves on the Executive Board of the International Science Foundation, the Executive Committee of the National Council on Soviet and East European Studies, and Chairs the Selection Committee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Initiative in Former Soviet Union. His article "Palchinsky's Travels: A Russian Engineer's Adventures Among Gigantic Projects and Small Minds," was published in June in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. He has four works in progress, including Bibliography of the History of Russian and Soviet Science (edited with Dr. Paul Josephson and Mr. Vyacheslav Gerovitch) under contract with Garland Publishers, and What Have We Learned About Science and Technology from the Soviet Experience, Stanford University Press.

Assistant Professor Evelynn Hammonds served on the HSSST Admissions Committee and the Siegel Prize Committee. She was awarded the Class of 1947 Career Development Chair. Her book manuscript The Search for Perfect Control: A Social History of Diphtheria: 1880-1930 is currently under review by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Professor Hammonds was co-editor of Gender and Scientific Authority (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press). She also wrote "When the Margin is the Center: Black Feminism(s) and 'Difference'," in Joan Scott and Cora Kaplan, eds., Transitions, Environments, Translations, forthcoming, Routledge. She was Chair, Committee on Women, History of Science Society, and a member of the Program Committee for the Organization of American Historians. She attended the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China, August 29-September 8, 1995 under the auspices of the Ford Foundation. In January, Professor Hammonds was nominated by MIT and honored at the Black Achievers banquet in Boston for her research, scholarship and teaching, and for her organization of the Black Women in the Academy Conference.

Professor Kay served on MIT's Committee on Graduate Studies and Policy (CGSP) during the fall 1995 term. She also Chaired the STS Curriculum Committee for academic year 1995-96. She was a member of the Advisory Committee on Selection of the Dean of the Graduate School. She was invited to give lectures at several universities and attended annual meetings of the History of Science Society and the American Anthropological Association. Among her most recent publications are "Who Wrote the Book of Life? Information and the Transformation of Molecular Biology, 1945-55," in Science in Context (1995); "Problematizing Basic Research in Molecular Biology" in Private Science: Biotechnology and the Rise of Molecular Sciences (1996); and "A Book of Life? How a Genetic Code Became a Language" in Philosophical and Ethical Perspectives on the Human Genome Project (1996).

Professor Keniston served on several Institute and Program committees. He was Chair, HSSST Admissions Committee; Chair, HSSST Doctoral Program Steering Committee; Member, STS Curriculum Committee; Member, Committee on Graduate School Policy; STS representative on the MIT Women Faculty Initiative and the MIT Minority Faculty Initiative; Member, Killian Award Committee, Chair, Siegel Prize Committee; and Coordinator, MIT Rhodes Scholarship Committee. He gave lectures to the MIT Club of Boston and the MIT Experimental Study Group. He served as Principal Investigator of the MacArthur Foundation Grant for "Humanistic Perspectives on the Environment," and was a consultant for the Guggenheim Foundation, the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Education, and the Curriculum Integration of Humanities and Technology, Polytecnico of Turin, Italy.

Professor Theodore Postol's article, "The Gulf War Performance of Patriot and Future Issues for Theater Missile Defenses," will appear in Security Studies. He continues to serve on the editorial boards of International Security and Science and Global Security and is frequently called upon to lecture at other research agencies and universities both in the United States and abroad. This year's list includes the Department of Energy, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, University of Maryland, the Army War College (Carlisle Barracks), Harvard University, and the National Press Club (Washington, D.C.). He also received grants from the Ploughshares Fund, W. Alton Jones Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Professor Smith is stepping down as director of the STS Program to devote full time research to the Sloan American History Textbook Project, which he is heading. He continues to serve as editor of the Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology series at The Johns Hopkins University Press and as senior advisor to WGBH's acclaimed television series, "The American Experience." He was appointed to the Editorial Advisory Board of the Thomas A. Edison Papers (NHPRC/Rutgers University). In addition to giving the inaugural Richmond Lecture at Williams College, he also spoke to groups at the University of Detroit-Mercy, Boston University, the Armor and Arms Club of the New York Metropolitan Museum, and MIT Alumni Clubs in Boston, Cleveland, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio. An essay on "Samuel Colt" will appear in the Oxford Companion to American Military History.

Professor Turkle's most recent publications include her book, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (1995), and articles on "Virtuality and Its Discontents" in The American Prospect (1996); and "The Ghost in the Machine" in The Sciences (1995). She continues to serve as an advisory editor to Science, Technology and Human Values and on the boards of Harvard Magazine and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. She gave numerous lectures during the past year, including keynote addresses at Simmons College, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the Advertising Research Foundation and conferences at Princeton University, the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting, and the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Under the leadership of Professors Fischer and Fitzgerald, the STS Program is undertaking a review of its graduate curriculum with an eye to refining the Doctoral Program's offerings and achieving a closer integration of the historical and cultural studies components of the curriculum. With the support of Dean Philip Khoury, a two-day faculty retreat was held in May to discuss the graduate curriculum and to consider revising and reorienting at least two of the four required introductory proseminars that comprise the core of the graduate program. A planning document is currently being prepared by Professors Fischer and Fitzgerald and the first of the curricular changes is scheduled to occur in the fall of 1996. Once issues concerning the graduate curriculum are addressed, members of the STS faculty anticipate undertaking a similar review and revision of the program's undergraduate offerings. This seems particularly appropriate, given the existence of the Sloan American History Textbook Project and its objective of more closely integrating science and technology into general American history survey courses and, beyond that, into courses treating world history and civilizations.

Merritt Roe Smith

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96