Pressing Issues: The History of Technology Meets Public Policy


Monday, October 7 – Wednesday, October 9 at Colby College

On October 7th to 9th the STS Program, with support from the Goldfarb Center, is hosting an international conference at Colby on technology and public policy.  This meeting, scheduled just before the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) in Portland, has attracted a dazzling array of leading scholars to Maine.

The keynote speaker Monday evening at 7 pm in Olin 01 is Professor Joel Tarr, the Richard S. Caliguiri University Professor of History & Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.  His talk will focus on the environmental impacts of energy transitions, past and present.  Dr. Tarr will discuss the manufactured gas industry, which existed in thousands of American cities for over a century, and present-day natural gas development — so-called hydrologic fracturing or “fracking” — in places like Pennsylvania, where he lives and works.

Sessions continue Tuesday morning on campus and move to the Maine Lakes Resource Center in Belgrade that afternoon and evening.  Participants will be treated to a lobster bake Wednesday and a choice of scenic or direct drives to Portland on Thursday.

The complete program is available at

About James Fleming

James Rodger Fleming is a historian of science and technology and professor of science, technology, and society at Colby College. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), elected “for pioneering studies on the history of meteorology and climate change and for the advancement of historical work within meteorological societies,” and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, elected for his historical contributions. He recently held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the Smithsonian Institution and the AAAS Roger Revelle Fellowship in Global Stewardship while a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Books include Fixing the Sky (Columbia, 2010), Globalizing Polar Science (Palgrave, 2010), Historical Perspectives on Climate Change (Oxford, 1998), and Meteorology in America, 1800-1870 (Johns Hopkins, 1990). He enjoys fishing, good jazz, good barbecue, seeing students flourish, building a community of historians of the geosciences, and connecting the history of science and technology with public policy.
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