Jennifer S. Light




Room E51-173

 Back to Faculty List

Professor of Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Jennifer S. Light is Professor of Science, Technology and Society and Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. Trained as a historian and sociologist of science and technology, Light studies past efforts to apply scientific methods and technological tools to solve social and political problems. Her careful attention to understanding when and how well-intentioned individuals and institutions failed to achieve their goals shows how humanistic inquiry can provide vital guidance to enhance the future work of scientists and engineers.

Professor Light is the author of The Nature of Cities: Ecological Visions and the American Urban Professions, 1920-1960 (2009, 2014) and From Warfare to Welfare: Defense Intellectuals and Urban Problems in Cold War America (2003, 2005), and editor, with Danielle Allen, of From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age (2015). Her articles and essays appear in New Media and Society, Technology and Culture, Journal of Urban History, Journal of the American Planning Association, and other venues.

Light holds degrees from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge. She has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study and the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. Her work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and honored with the Catherine Bauer Wurster Prize from the Society for American City and Regional Planning History and an honorary doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Light serves on the editorial boards IEEE Annals of the History of Computing; Information and Culture; Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences; and Journal of Urban History. Professor Light was previously on the faculty of the School of Communication and the Departments of History and Sociology at Northwestern University.

Courses taught:

STS 080J/11.151J Youth Political Participation
STS 340: Introduction to the History of Technology
STS 460: Histories of Information, Communication, and Computing Technologies
STS 463J/11.461J Technocracy


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Building E51-163