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.


November 1, 2018
"The Limits of Ethical A.I."
Joichi Ito, Director, MIT Media Laboratory
With panelists Joshua D. Greene (Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University), Nicco Mele (Director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School), and Martha Minow (300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University; Former Dean, Harvard Law School). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School). 


March 20, 2018
"Open Society's New Enemies and the Assault on Truth"
Michael Ignatieff, President, Central European University, Budapest
With panelists Rakesh Khurana (Danoff Dean of Harvard College; Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Harvard Business School), James T. Kloppenberg (Charles Warren Professor of American History, Harvard University), and Julie A. Reuben (Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School). 

December 4, 2017
"Contested Realities: India’s Environmental Movement and the Politics of Change"
Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
With panel discussion by Sunil Amrith (Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Harvard University), Jody Freeman (Archibald Cox Professor of Law and Director, Environmental Law Program, Harvard Law School), and David S. Jones (A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, Harvard University). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School). 


April 19, 2017
"Good Science for Good Politics: Scientific Advice and Policy-making in the European Union"
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation; Former Secretary of State to Portugal
With panelists John Holdren (Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama on Science and Technology), Rush D. Holt (Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives), and Venky Narayanamurti (Benjamin Peirce Research Professor of Technology and Public Policy; Professor of Physics). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

October 18, 2016
"Looking up: How coalitions of bottom-up organizations are driving action for sustainable development"
Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General
With panelists William Clark (Harvard Kennedy School), Henry Lee (Harvard Kennedy School), and Michael Mehling (MIT). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School). 


April 20, 2016
"The Elusive Demos: Democracy in the Digital Age"
With panelists Yaron Ezrahi (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Andy Stirling (University of Sussex), Shiv Visvanathan (O.P. Jindal University ), and Jane Mansbridge (Harvard Kennedy School). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

November 4, 2015
"Climate Clubs: The Central Role of the Social Sciences in Climate Change Policy"
William D. Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics, Yale University
With panel discussion by Michael Grubb (Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London ), David Keith (Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics ), and Richard Zeckhauser (Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy ). Moderated by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).


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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