Rosalind Williams is the Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology Emerita at MIT. Since 1982 she has taught there on the faculties of the Writing Program (now Comparative Media Studies/Writing) and the Program in Science, Technology and Society. From 1995 to 2000 she served as the Institute’s first Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education. She is currently co-chairing MIT’s Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement and serving as part-time visiting professor at the Chalmers University of Technology (Gothenberg, Sweden. Her main scholarly affiliation is the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), of which she served as president in 2005-06.
Her scholarship addresses this question: what are the implications for human life, both individual and collective, when we live in a predominantly self-constructed world? She has examined this question in studying the emergence of consumer culture in late l9th century France; the creation of underworlds, both imagined and actual, as models of a technological environment; the retooling of MIT as the Institute confronts the effects of an information age of which it has been such a prime generator; and the rise and triumph of human empire, defined by the dominance of human presence on the planet. She is currently updating her book Retooling to take into account the massive changes in engineering, as seen through changes at MIT, since the turn of the millennium.