Stephen Hilgartner

Frederic J. Whiton Professor of Science & Technology Studies


Stephen Hilgartner studies the social dimensions and politics of contemporary and emerging science and technology, especially in the life sciences. His research focuses on situations in which scientific knowledge is implicated in establishing, contesting, and maintaining social order -- a theme he has examined in studies of expertise, property formation, risk disputes, and biotechnology. His book on knowledge-control regimes in genomics, Reordering Life (MIT Press, 2017), examines how new knowledge and new regimes of control took shape during the Human Genome Project. Hilgartner’s book on science advice—Science on Stage: Expert Advice as Public Drama—won the Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for Social Studies of Science. He is also a co-editor of Science & Democracy: Making Knowledge and Making Power in the Biosciences and Beyond (Routledge, 2015) and Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society (Routledge, 2018). Hilgartner is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Current Research Projects

  • Comparative COVID Response: Crisis, Knowledge, and Politics in 16 Countries (CompCoRe). Project Website
  • Ethics-in-the-Making in Data Science
  • Making Knowledge about Risk
  • Knowledge and Control in Genomics and Postgenomics​




Covid Report

  • Comparative Covid Response: Crisis, Knowledge, Politics: Interim Report, Sheila Jasanoff, Stephen Hilgartner, J. Benjamin Hurlbut, Onur Özgöde, Margarita Rayzberg, with support from the CompCoRe Research Team, January 12, 2021. Full Text

Articles and Chapters

  • Hilgartner, S. (2022). “What time should we arrive at the party? The historical and the contemporary in studies of science and technology.” Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte / History of Science 45: 428-433. Read here
  • Hilgartner, S., Hurlbut, J.B., Jasanoff, S. (2021). “Was ‘science’ on the ballot?” Science 371(6532): 893-894. Full Text
  • Hilgartner, S. (2018). “Foundational technologies and accountability.” American Journal of Bioethics 18(12): 63-65. More Info
  • Hilgartner, S. (2018). "The Human Genome Project and the legacy of its ethics programs." In S. Gibbon, et al., eds., Handbook of Genomics, Health, and Society. Routledge (2018). More Info
  • Hilgartner, S. (2017). "Governing gene editing: a constitutional conversation." In Irus Braverman, ed., Gene Editing, Law, and the Environment: Life Beyond the Human. Routledge (2017). More Info
  • Hilgartner, S., Prainsack, B., and Hurlbut, J.B. (2017). "Ethics as governance in genomics and beyond." In Ulrike Felt, et al., eds., Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press. Full Text
  • Reardon, J., Ankeny, R.A., Bangham, J., Darling, K., Hilgartner, S., Maxson Jones, K., Shapiro, B., and Stevens, H., with the Genomics Open Working Group. (2016). "Bermuda 2.0: Reflections from Santa Cruz," GigaScience 5(1): 1-4. Full Text
  • Hilgartner, S. (2015). "Capturing the imaginary: Vanguards, visions, and the synthetic biology revolution." In Hilgartner, S., Miller, C., and Hagendijk, R., eds. (2015), Science & Democracy: Making Knowledge and Making Power in the Biosciences and Beyond, pp. 33-55. Routledge. More Info
  • Hilgartner, S. (2015)."Biotechnology," International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2015.  More Info
  • Hilgartner, S. "Constituting large-scale biology: Building a regime of Governance in the early years of the Human Genome Project," BioSocieties , Volume 8, December 2013 , pp. 397-416. More Info
  • "Novel constitutions? New regimes of openness in synthetic biology." BioSocieties, Vol. 7, pp. 188-207, June 2012. More Info
  • Hilgartner, S. (2012). "Selective flows of Knowledge in technoscientific interaction: Information control in genome research," The British Journal for History of Science 45(165 Pt 2):267-80. 2012.  Full Text
  • Hilgartner, S. (2011). "Staging high-visibility science: Media orientation in genome research," in The Sciences' Media Connection - Public Communication and Its Repercussions: Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook, (S. Rödder, M. Franzen, P. Weingart, eds.), Springer, 2011, pp. 152-175. Full Text
  • Hilgartner, S. (2009). "Intellectual property and the politics of emerging technology: Inventors, citizens, and powers to shape the future." Chicago-Kent Law Review 84(1): 197-224. Full Text
  • Hilgartner, S. (2009). "Las dimensiones sociales del conocimiento experto del riesgo" ("The social dimensions of expert knowledge about risk"). In Moreno Castro, Carolina, ed., Comunicar Los Riesgos. Biblioteca Nueva. Full Text (Spanish)
  • Nelson, N., Geltzer, A., and Hilgartner, S. eds. (2008)."The anticipatory state: Making policy-relevant knowledge about the future," a special issue. Science & Public Policy 8(8): 546-606. Full Text
  • Hilgartner, S. (2007). "Making the bioeconomy measurable: Politics of an emerging anticipatory machinery" (Comment). BioSocieties 2(3): 382-6.  Full Text
  • "Overflow and Containment in the Aftermath of Disaster" (Comment). Social Studies of Science, 37(1):153-58, 2007. Full Text
  • Lynch, M., Hilgartner, S., and Berkowitz, C. (2005). "Voting Machinery, Counting, and Public Proofs in the 2000 US Presidential Election." In Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel. MIT Press, 2005.
  • Hilgartner, S. and"The Social Construction of Risk Objects: Or How to Pry Open Networks of Risk." In Short James F. and Lee Clarke, eds., Organizations, Uncertainties, and Risk, Westview Press, 1992.  Reprinted in Burgess, Adam, ed., Risk, Sage Publications, 2017. Full Text
  • "The Rise and Fall of Social Problems: A Public Arenas Model," Stephen Hilgartner and Charles L. Bosk, American Journal of Sociology, 1988. Full Text

In the news

STS Courses - Spring 2024

BSOC Courses - Spring 2024

STS Courses - Fall 2024

BSOC Courses - Fall 2024