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William and Myrtle Harris Distinguished Lectureship in Science and Civilization

The William and Myrtle Harris Distinguished Lectures in Science and Civilization started in 1996, thanks to the endowment established by William Harris, a BS'49 and MS'50 Caltech alumnus in Mechanical Engineering, and his wife, an alumna of Occidental College and Stanford. The Harris Lectures enable the history and philosophy of science program to bring to campus distinguished scientists, historians, philosophers, and other analysts of science to address concerns of mutual interest—especially their ethical implications—across the intellectual spectrum. Below is a list of all Harris Lecturers to date, including, when available, a link to the podcast or video of the lecture.

Click here to see upcoming events in this series.

Past Events

Donors Myrtle and William Harris
Donors Myrtle and William Harris, BS '49, MS '50
02/17/2023 From Fukushima to Hiroshima: Comparative and Transnational Perspectives on Eight Decades of Living with Nuclear Technology [Video] Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent 1
Soraya Boudia 2
Kyoko Sato 3
Joseph E. Shepherd 4
1 Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (Emeritus), Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University
2 Professor of Science, Technology and Society, Paris Cité University
3 Associate Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Stanford University
4 C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, Caltech
05/05/2022 Engineering Fidelity: Early Radio and the Trautonium in Berlin in the 1920s and '30s [Video] Myles W. Jackson Albers-Schönberg Professor in the History of Science, Institute for Advanced Study
05/25/2021 Fighting the First Wave [Video] Peter Baldwin Global Distinguished Professor, NYU; Professor of History, UCLA
04/14/2021 Rich Rocks, the Climate Crisis, and the Tech Imperium [Video] Sophia Kalantzakos Visiting Fellow in the Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology (2020-2021), Caltech; Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy, New York University
11/12/2020 Ideal and Illusion: The Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla [Video] W. Bernard Carlson Joseph L. Vaughan Professor of Humanities; Chair, Engineering and Society Department; Professor of History, University of Virginia
2/27/2020 Lies and Truth in the History of Science [Video] Alberto A. Martínez Associate Professor, Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin
5/20/2019 Leonardo da Vinci: History of the Earth and the Fate of Man Paolo Galluzzi Moore Distinguished Scholar, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Caltech; Historian of Science, Director of the Galileo Museum, Florence, Italy
12/7/2018 The Anatomy of Artificial Intelligence Kate Crawford Co-Founder and Co-Director of the AI Now Institute at NYU; Distinguished Research Professor at New York University; Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New York
5/17/2018 Science vs. Intuition: Why Scientific Ideas Elude the Human Mind [Video] Andrew Shtulman Cognitive Science; Psychology, Occidental College
5/18/2017 Containment Film Screening, Intro and Q&A with film creators [Video] Peter Galison 1
Robb Moss 2
1 Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University
2 Chair, Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University
4/13/2016 Empirical Research on Research and the Reproducibility Crisis [Video] John P.A. Ioannidis C.F. Rehnborg Professor in Disease Prevention, Professor of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University
5/21/2015 Alan Turing: An Individual of the Twentieth Century [Video] Andrew Hodges Senior Research Fellow and Fellow and Tutor in Mathematics at Wadham College, University of Oxford
2/4/2015 The Knowledge Society as a Practical Utopia and its Hidden Impact on Higher Education [Video] Liviu Matei Provost and Pro-Rector; Professor in the Department of Public Policy, Central European University
4/30/2014 Cars and Civilization [Paper] Jesse H. Ausubel 1
Nebojsa Nakicenovic 2
1 Rockefeller University
2 Vienna University of Technology and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
5/21/2013 Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts Andrew Robinson Author
5/21/2012 Big Science, 19th Century Style: Terrestrial Physics and the British Quest for the South Magnetic Pole Edward J. Larson University Professor and Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law, Pepperdine University
3/1/2012 Archaeologies of Performance: Ritual Movement through Greek Sacred Space Joan Breton Connelly Professor of Classics, Art History; Director, NYU; Yeronisos Island Excavations, Cyprus, New York University
3/8/2011 The Apples of our Eyes: Art, Intellectual Property and American Fruits Daniel J. Kevles Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University
11/12/2010 Walther Rathenau's Dilemma: Modernity and the Human Soul Shulamit Volkov Professor of Modern History, Tel Aviv University
2/26/2010 Manufacturing Memories Elizabeth Loftus Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology, Professor of Law and Cognitive Science, UC Irvine
12/4/2009 Did Darwin Write the Origin of Species Backwards? Elliott Sober Hans Reichenbach Professor and William Vilas Research Professor, Department of Philosophy University of Wisconsin, Madison
5/18/2009 The Religious Rise of Civilizations Scott Atran Director, National Center for Scientific Research, Paris
3/6/2009 From Professor to Crusader: Galileo Transformed by His Telescope John S. Heilbron Professor Emeritus of History and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at UC Berkeley
5/5/2008 Commemorating Darwin: 1809, 1859, 2009 Janet Browne Aramont Professor of History of Science, Harvard University
11/13/2007 The Threat to the Planet: Dark and Bright Sides of Global Warming James Hansen NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York City
5/14/2007 Robert Hooke in the Round: Ingenious Scientist, Newton's Nemesis and a Most Disastrous Clerk Lisa Jardine Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London
4/18/2007 Watson, Crick and the Mushroom Cloud Soraya de Chadarevian Department of History and Center for Society and Ethics at UCLA
2/1/2006 Oppenheimer's Legacy: Science and Government in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons Martin J. Sherwin Professor of History, Tufts University
3/3/2005 Is There a Neurophysiological Challenge to Freedom and Responsibility of Human Action? Julian Nida-Rumelin Professor of Philosophy at the University of Munich
4/21/2004 Science, Arms, The State: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the 20th Century Daniel J. Kevles Professor of History, Yale
4/2/2004 Human Dissection and Vivisection: Science, Religion and Politics in Early Greece Heinrich von Staden Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton
4/17/2003 Physics, Philosophy and the Foundations of Geometry: Einstein and the Logical Empiricists Michael Friedman Frederick P. Rhemus Family Professor of Humanities at Stanford University
3/17/2003 Creativity and the Brain Oliver Sacks Author
4/4/2002 Galileothek@: Information Technology and Research in the Humanities Paolo Galluzzi Director, Institute and Museum of History of Science, Professor of Science, University of Florence
2/28/2002 Einstein and the German Question Fritz Stern University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
10/22/2001 Faustus and Friends: The Renaissnace Magus in Context Anthony T. Grafton Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University
1/11/2001 The Body as Product in the Biotechnology Age Dorothy Nelkin University Professor, Department of Sociology and School of Law New York University
12/1/2000 Poincare's Maps and Einstein's Clocks Peter Galison Professor of Science and Physics, Harvard University
4/20/2000 On Violence Richard Rhodes Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb
1/21/2000 From Virtual Pets to Digital Dolls: Reflections on Relational Artifacts Sherry Turkle Professor of the Sociology of Science, MIT
10/22/1999 The Scopes Trial in History and Legend Edward J. Larson Professor of History and Law, University of Georgia School of Law
11/6/1998 Biomedical Research: Public Investments and Public Expectations Harold Varmus Director, National Institute of Health
5/21/1998 Genetic Analysis of Breast and Ovarian Cancer Mary-Claire King American Cancer Society, Professor of Genetics and Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle
1/22/1998 Counting Sheep: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Human Cloning Alexander M. Capron Professor of Law and Medicine; Co-Director Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics, University of Southern California
11/6/1997 Einstein in His Cultural Context Gerald Holton Professor of Physics and History of Science, Em, Harvard University
4/18/1997 Debate in the Republic of Science: Michael Polanyi and P.M.S. Blackett on Science and Its Social Ends Mary Jo Nye Horning Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History, Oregon State University
2/6/1997 Plagues and People: The Battle Against Infectious Disease John Michael Bishop Professor of Microbiology and Immunology: Director Hooper Foundation and Karl Friedrich Meyer Labs; UC, San Francisco
10/11/1996 Science after Modernity Stephen E. Toulmin Henry Luce Professor of the Center for Multiethnic and Transitional Studies, University of Southern California
5/9/1996 Epidemic Disease and Basic Reseach: Lessons from the Case of AIDS Robert C. Gallo Professor and Director of Human Virology, University of Maryland at Baltimore