Science and the technologies it has spawned have been the principal drivers of the American economy since the end of World War II. Today, economists estimate that a whopping 85 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) growth traces its origin to science and technology. The size of the impact should not be a surprise, considering the ubiquity of modern technologies.
Innovation has brought us the consumer products we take for granted: smartphones and tablets, CD and DVD players, cars that are loaded with electronics and GPS navigating tools and that rarely break down, search engines like Google and Yahoo, the Internet and the Web, money-saving LED lights, microwave ovens and much more. Technology has also made our military stronger and kept our nation safer. It has made food more affordable and plentiful. It has provided medical diagnostic tools, such as MRIs, CT scanners and genomic tests; treatments for disease and illness, such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation; minimally invasive procedures, such as laparoscopy, coronary stent insertion and video-assisted thoracoscopy; and artificial joint and heart valve replacements.
None of those technological developments were birthed miraculously. They owe a significant part of their realization to public and private strategies and public and private investments. Collectively the strategies and investments form the kernel of science and technology policy. "Navigating the Maze" is a narrative covering more than 230 years of American science and technology history. It contains stories with many unexpected twists and turns, illustrating how we got to where we are today and how we can shape the world of tomorrow.
The Book of Job, regarded by some as the greatest poem ever written, has been misunderstood in many details and in some of its major themes and thrusts. E.L. Greenstein’s new translation of Job draws on decades of painstaking work on the language, argument and poetics of the book. In this lecture, Greenstein will explain how he has sought to change our understanding of Job on both the micro and the macro levels. Edward L. Greenstein is professor emeritus of biblical studies at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and a prolific, world-renowned scholar in many areas of biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies.
This event is free and open to the public. Special thanks to the Smith College Department of Religion, Amherst College Department of Religion and Willis Wood Fund for sponsoring this event.
The Point/Counterpoint conversation series features an Amherst College professor and guests engaging in thoughtful discussion and attempting to bridge the growing ideological divide in our nation. Series information is available on the Amherst College website.
Join Professor of Philosophy Nishi Shah for a discussion on "Is Progress in Our Genes?" A Q&A will follow, with books available for purchase through Amherst Books.
Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1982. Among his recent courses are "Contracts," "Evidence," "Law and Religion," "The Ethics of War," "Slavery and the Law" and "Libertarian Legal Theory." He is the author of 15 books, including, among others, The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama (2010); God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics (2000); Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy (1998); The Dissent of the Governed: A Meditation on Law, Religion, and Loyalty (1998); The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning up the Federal Appointments Process (1994); and The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (1993). His most recent volume, published in 2018, is Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer who Took Down America’s Biggest Mobster. He recently delivered the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard, which he is writing up for publication.
Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., is a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the areas of social networks and biosocial science. He directs the Human Nature Lab. His current research is mainly focused on two topics: (1) the social, mathematical and biological rules governing how social networks form (“connection”), and (2) the social and biological implications of how they operate to influence thoughts, feelings and behaviors (“contagion”). His lab uses both observational and experimental methods to study these phenomena, exploiting techniques from sociology, computer science, biosocial science, demography, statistics, behavior genetics, evolutionary biology, epidemiology and other fields.
The Point/Counterpoint series is based on a course of the same name. The course and associated event series received special funding through a generous gift from 36 members of the 50th Reunion Class of 1970.