Is the Humanities the Next Big Thing?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
Venue: JO 3.516
Admission: Free
Season: 2014-15

Dr. Deborah Fitzgerald, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT, will deliver a lecture titled “Is the Humanities the Next Big Thing?” on Wednesday, April 1 at 2:00 p.m.

Fitzgerald, an award-winning historian of agriculture and food in modern America, attracted widespread national attention last year for her editorial titled “At MIT, the Humanities Are Just as Important as STEM” (Boston Globe, April 30, 2014).

Deborah Fitzgerald is Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), and Professor of the History of Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at MIT. She received her B.A. from Iowa State University (History and English, 1978) and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (History and Sociology of Science, 1985). Prior to joining the MIT faculty in 1988, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.

Fitzgerald's research focuses on agriculture in 20th century America. She is interested in the role of federal, private, and corporate institutions supporting agriculture, in the character of rural life vis-a-vis growing modernization efforts; in the emergence of scientific, technological, and economic ways of knowing and changing the agricultural world; in the interface between nature and landscape, on the one hand, and agriculture on the other; in the reciprocal influence of American and non-American agricultural practices and ideas; and in the role of commodity overproduction in the emergence of the modern food industry.

She is the author of The Business of Breeding: Hybrid Corn in Illinois, 1890-1920(Cornell, 1990), and Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture (Yale University Press, 2003), which won the 2003 Theodore Saloutos Prize for best book of the year from the Agricultural History Society, of which Fitzgerald is a past president.

Fitzgerald is also the co-sponsor, with Professor Harriet Ritvo, of the MITSeminar in Environmental and Agricultural History (formerly the Modern Times/Rural Places Seminar).


For more information contact:
Charles Hatfield
[email protected]

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