Kenneth Keniston is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Human Development, Emeritus, in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, he was educated in part at the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires (Central). He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, with a thesis on the political philosophy of José Ortega y Gasset. He received his D. Phil. in Social Studies from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College. He has taught at Harvard University, where he was a Junior Fellow; in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale University; and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has been Director (1986-1992) and Director of Graduate Studies (1992-1996) of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.


He was a member, Carnegie Commission on Higher Education (1964-1971) director, Behavioral Sciences Study Center, Yale Medical School (1967-1971); chairman and director, Carnegie Council on Children (1971-1977), author of its report, All Our Children; member, Board of Overseers of Harvard University (1973-1979); Guggenheim Fellow for study of engineering education (1982); evaluator, Guggenheim Foundation for Latin American applicants (1988-); member, Committee of Selection for the MacArthur Prize Fellowships (1973- 1979); member, Committee of Selection for the Guggenheim Fellowships (1991-1994). He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Ecole des Mines (Paris); Visiting Professor at the University of ParisV (Sorbonne); Visiting Professor at the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Ciencias Sociales (Madrid). He has been a consultant on a number of projects in Venezuela, Kuwait, Mendoza (Argentina), Malaysia, Politecnico of Torino, Italy, Petroleum Institute in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He was a member of the National Research Council /Max Planck Institute (American-German) Working Group on Global Networks and Local Values. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Professor Keniston has twice been Sir Ashutosh Mukerjee Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (1999-2000, 2001-2002). He has lectured at a number of Indian institutions including IIT-Chennai, IIT-Mumbai, IIT-Kanpur, the Confederation of Indian Industry, and private firms. He is founder of the MIT India Program, whose goal is increasing the presence of India in the education of MIT students. He is a Foreign Member of the India International Centre in New Delhi. He was the Chair of Decennial Review Committee of NIAS in 2003. January 2005 he was Honorary Visiting Professor at NIAS and Senior Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB). He was a member of the Governing Board of the IIITB, member of the Advisory Board of the journal "I4D" (Delhi), and a member of the Advisory Board of the Minimally Invasive Education Project (Computer in the Wall) of NIIT (India)

Professor Keniston is the author of nine books and more than one hundred articles and chapters. His most recent works are, with D. Guston, The Fragile Contract (1994); with J. Ker Conway and L. Marx, Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Humanistic Studies of the Environment (2000); with Deepak Kumar, IT Experience in India: Bridging the Digital Divide (2004); with Rohit Raj Mathur and R.K. Bagga, The State, IT, and Development (2005), and with V. Balaji, a study of rural information projects for the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of the Government of India (2006). 


Trained as a social psychologist, Professor Keniston is interested in the relationship of technology, personality and culture. He has studied the education and careers of engineers in the United States and France and the financing and organization of scientific and engineering research in universities in the United States.

In recent years, Professor Keniston's research has focused on information technology and development in particular within India. His research in India includes site visits to on-going projects involving how computer technology is used for information and communication and how it is used in development, political transparency and social justice. With Indian colleagues and graduate students, he is engaged in comparative ethnographic study of sites that seek to use modern information and communication technologies for e-governance and the improvement of life in rural India. His research in the past has been supported by grants from the Nippon Electric Company (administered through the Provost’s Fund at MIT), from the Ford Foundation (New Delhi), from Media Lab Asia (Fall, 2001), from Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Government of India), from the Microsoft Research Center (India) and from private IT firms in the Bangalore region.




Spring, 2007