Jennifer S. Light

Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society; Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology; Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

E51-173 617-452-2390

Jen Light’s eclectic interests span the history of science and technology in America over the past 150 years. She is the author of three books as well as articles and essays covering topics from female programming pioneers, to early attempts to organize smart cities, to the racial implications of algorithmic thinking in federal housing policy, to the history of youth political media production, to the uptake of scientific and technical ideas and innovations across other fields. Professor Light is especially fascinated by smart peoples’ bad ideas: efforts by well-intentioned scientists and engineers to apply scientific methods and technological tools to solve social and political problems—and how the history of their failures can inform contemporary scientific and engineering practice.

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 ComputingInformation 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:

Youth Political Participation 

Introduction to the History of Technology

Histories of Communication, Information, and Computing Technologies

Technocracy 

Recent Books

2015

From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age

Jennifer S. Light

In From Voice to Influence, Danielle Allen and Jennifer Light bring together a stellar group of political and social theorists, social scientists, and media analysts to explore the transformation of political action in a digital age.