Kenneth Oye

FACULTY  |  Kenneth Oye

Kenneth Oye holds a joint appointment in Political Science and Engineering Systems and directs the MIT Program on Emerging Technologies (PoET). He is currently a faculty PI in the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center and PI on an NSF grant on “Creating a Research Agenda on Ecological Implications of Synthetic Biology.” He has served as an invited expert on pharmaceuticals policy for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a consultant on trade and financial issues for U.S. Treasury, Commerce, and EX-IM and the Petersen Institute for International Economics; and as a consultant on technology transfer for the UN. Professor Oye is the recipient of the Levitan Award for Excellence in Teaching (2011) and the Graduate Council Teaching Award (1998) for teaching in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty Appreciation Award for teaching in the Technology and Policy Program of the School of Engineering (2003). Before coming to MIT, he served on the faculties of the Kennedy School at Harvard, the University of California, Princeton and Swarthmore and was a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. He holds a BA in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore with Highest Honors and a Ph.D in Political Science from Harvard with the Chase Dissertation Prize.


He has published six books on international relations, including Cooperation under Anarchy and Economic Discrimination and Political Exchange. His current research applies theories and methods from political economy to problems of science and technology policy, with emphasis on appraising market and nonmarket institutions and processes in light of uncertainty over risks, benefits, and interests. His current project on adaptive regulation combines retrospective case studies on environmental, health, safety and security risks with the experimental application of case based theories to two current policy areas. He has partnered with the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation, payers, sponsors, regulators from EMA and FDA and the White House on development of adaptive approaches to pharmaceuticals licensing. He has partnered with the Smithsonian Wilson Center, NSF, EPA, UNBWC and WHO, biotech firms and NGOs to improve assessment and management of risks associated with synthetic biology. His other current projects focus on uses of compensation to rectify distributional consequences of reforms and on credible assessment of scientific and technical knowledge in areas of uncertainty, complexity and controversy.

Recent Publications

“Legal Foundations of Adaptive Licensing” K Oye et al (September 2013) and “Adaptive Licensing: Taking the Next Step in the Evolution of Drug Approval,” H Eichler, K Oye et al (March 2012), Nature Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

“Proactive and Adaptive Governance of Emerging Risks: The Case of DNA Synthesis and Synthetic Biology, Kenneth A. Oye, International Risk Governance Council, June 2012.

"Planned Adaptation in Risk Regulation: An Initial Survey of U.S. Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation," Lawrence McCray, Kenneth A. Oye and Arthur C. Petersen, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, (July 2010) Volume 77 (6), pp. 951-959.

"Embracing Uncertainty," Kenneth A. Oye, Issues in Science and Technology, Vol XXVI, No 1, Fall 2009, pp 91-93.

"The Intellectual Commons and Property in Synthetic Biology," Kenneth A. Oye and Rachel Wellhausen, in Markus Schmidt et al (eds), "Synthetic Biology: The Technoscience and its Societal Consequences," Springer, 2009, pp 121-140.

"What Rough Beast: Synthetic Biology and the Future of Biosecurity," Gautam Mukunda, Kenneth A. Oye and Scott Mohr, Politics and the Life Sciences, September 2009, Volume 28, Number 2, pp 2-26.


17.430 International Relations Research Seminar

17.310/ESD103/STS482 Science, Technology and Public Policy

17.31/ESD082/STS82 Science, Technology and Public Policy


CV (pdf)