Science and Democracy

Once a semester, the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School, with co-sponsorship from HUCE and other local institutions, hosts an installation in its Science and Democracy Lecture Series. The series aims to spark lively, university-wide discussion of the place and meaning of science and technology, broadly conceived, in democratic societies. It hopes to explore both the promised benefits of our era’s most salient scientific and technological breakthroughs and the potentially harmful consequences of developments that are inadequately understood, debated, or managed by politicians, institutions, and lay publics.


March 25, 2015
"Back to the Future: Will we create enough new technology to sustain our society?"
Peter Thiel, Palantir Technologies; Thiel Foundation; Founders Fund; PayPal co-founder
With panel discussion by Antoine Picon (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Margo Seltzer (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), and Samuel Moyn (Harvard Law School). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

November 6, 2014
Catastrophic Risks: The Downsides of Advancing Technology
Martin Rees, Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge; Astronomer Royal; Visiting Professor at Imperial College London and at Leicester University
With panel discussion by Sven Beckert, George DaleyJennifer Hochschild, and Daniel Schrag. Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


April 15, 2014
What's the Public for Public Social Science?
Craig Calhoun, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science
With panel discussion by David Armitage (Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History), Michèle Lamont (European Studies, and Orlando Patterson. Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

November 12, 2013
"Dis-Owning Nature: The BRCA Gene Patents and the Supreme Court"
Chris Hansen, Lawyer, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Retired
With panelists George M. Church (Harvard Medical School and Broad Institute), Glenn Cohen (Harvard Law School), Judy Norsigian (Our Bodies, Ourselves), and Tania Simoncelli (Former Science Advisor, ACLU). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


February 6, 2013
"Making Science Work"
Sir Paul Nurse, President, Royal Society of London; Director, UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation; Nobel Laureate
With panel discussion by Eric Lander (Broad Institute and Biology, MIT), Lisa Randall (Physics, Harvard University), and Charles Rosenberg (History of Science, Harvard University). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

December 11, 2012
"New Biology and Convergence of Life Sciences and Engineering"
Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT
With panel discussion by Walter Gilbert (Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University), Everett Mendelsohn (History of Science, Harvard University), and Fiona Murray (MIT Sloan School of Management). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


April 17, 2012
"Deleterious Me: Whole Genome Sequencing, 23andMe, and the Crowd-Sourced Health Care Revolution"
Anne Wojcicki, CEO and Co-Founder, 23andMe
With panel discussion by Archon Fung (Harvard Kennedy School), Jeremy Greene (Harvard Medical School and History of Science), Sanford Kwinter (Harvard Graduate School of Design), and Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard Law School). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

November 29, 2011
"Investigating with a Camera"
Errol Morris, Academy Award-winning filmmaker and essayist
With commentary from Elaine Scarry (English, Harvard University). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


April 12, 2011
"Politics, the Brain, and Human Nature"
David Brooks, Columnist, The New York Times
With commentary from Max Bazerman (Harvard Business School), David Kennedy (Harvard Law School), and Steven Pinker (Psychology, Harvard University). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

November 30, 2010
"Designing a University for America's Complex Future"
Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University
With commentary from James Kloppenberg (History, Harvard University), Cherry A. Murray (Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences), and Daniel P. Schrag (Harvard University Center for the Environment). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


April 1, 2010
"Can We Leave the Bauxite in the Mountain? Field Notes on Democracy"
Arundhati Roy, Author of The God of Small Things (Booker Prize, 1997)
With commentary from Homi Bhabha (Humanities Center at Harvard). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

December 2, 2009
"Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy"
Raghuram Rajan, Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Followed by panel discussion with Suzanne Berger (Political Science, MIT), Frank Dobbin (Sociology, Harvard University), and Niall Ferguson (History, Harvard University, and Harvard Business School). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


March 11, 2009
"Connected Publics: Power and Politics in a Networked Age"
A panel discussion featuring: Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School), Antoine Picon (Harvard Graduate School of Design), Lucy Suchman (Sociology, Lancaster University & MIT [visiting]), and Sherry Turkle (STS, MIT). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

November 12, 2008
"Risk Society's Cosmopolitan Moment: Climate Change and the Opportunity for a New World Order"
Ulrich Beck, Professor of Sociology, University of Munich; British Journal of Sociology Professor, London School of Economics
Followed by panel discussion with Brian Wynne (Lancaster University), Michèle Lamont (Sociology, Harvard University), and Peter Hall (Government, Harvard University). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


April 3, 2008
"Enhancing the Contract: The Federal Government and American Science in a New Administration"
Harold Varmus, President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; former Director, National Institutes of Health (1993-1999); Nobel Laureate, 1989
With panel discussion from David Goldston (Center for the Environment, Harvard University), Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School), and Charles Rosenberg (History of Science, Harvard University). Moderated by Jon Beckwith (Harvard Medical School).

November 29, 2007
"Saving Nature in Time: Why Environmentalism Needs History as much as Science"
William Cronon, Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison
With panel discussion from David Blackbourn (History, Harvard University), Peter Galison (History of Science, Harvard University), and Mike Hulme (Tyndall Center, United Kingdom).


April 9, 2007
"Necessary Fictions: The Decline of Science in the Democratic Imagination"
Yaron Ezrahi, Professor of Political Science, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Followed by panel discussion with Ellen Goodman (Boston Globe; Harvard Kennedy School), James McCarthy (Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University), Steven Shapin (History of Science), and Cass Sunstein (Chicago Law School).

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Center for the Environment

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Phone: (617) 495-0368

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