Skip navigation

David Kaiser

David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science, Department Head of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at MIT. He is the author of Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of the Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics, and editor of Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (MIT Press).

Titles by This Editor

Moments of Decision
Edited by David Kaiser

How did MIT become MIT? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology marks the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2011. Over the years, MIT has lived by its motto, “Mens et Manus” (“Mind and Hand”), dedicating itself to the pursuit of knowledge and its application to real-world problems. MIT has produced leading scholars in fields ranging from aeronautics to economics, invented entire academic disciplines, and transformed ideas into market-ready devices. This book examines a series of turning points, crucial decisions that helped define MIT. Many of these issues have relevance today: the moral implications of defense contracts, the optimal balance between government funding and private investment, and the right combination of basic science, engineering, and humanistic scholarship in the curriculum.

Chapters describe the educational vison and fund-raising acumen of founder William Barton Rogers (MIT was among the earliest recipients of land grant funding); MIT’s relationship with Harvard--its rival, doppelgänger, and, for a brief moment, degree-conferring partner; the battle between pure science and industrial sponsorship in the early twentieth century; MIT’s rapid expansion during World War II because of defense work and military training courses; the conflict between Cold War gadgetry and the humanities; protests over defense contracts at the height of the Vietnam War; the uproar in the local community over the perceived riskiness of recombinant DNA research; and the measures taken to reverse years of institutionalized discrimination against women scientists.

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Edited by David Kaiser

Pedagogy and the Practice of Science provides the first sustained examination of how scientists' and engineers' training shapes their research and careers. The wide-ranging essays move pedagogy to the center of science studies, asking where questions of scientists' training should fit into our studies of the history, sociology, and anthropology of science. Chapter authors examine the deep interrelations among training, learning, and research and consider how the form of scientific training affects the content of science. They investigate types of training—in cultural and political settings as varied as Victorian Britain, interwar Japan, Stalinist Russia, and Cold War America—and the resulting scientific practices. The fields they examine span the modern physical sciences, ranging from theoretical physics to electrical engineering and from nuclear weapons science to quantum chemistry.

The studies look both at how skills and practices can be transferred to scientists-in-training and at the way values and behaviors are passed on from one generation of scientists to the next. They address such topics as the interplay of techniques and changing research strategies, pedagogical controversies over what constitutes "appropriate" or "effective," the textbook as a genre for expressing scientific creativity, and the moral and social choices that are embodied in the training of new scientists. The essays thus highlight the simultaneous crafting of scientific practices and of the practitioners who put them to work.