While the process of gene editing is becoming more and more commonplace, editing the human genome raises as yet unresolved questions about the dignity and integrity of human life. This scientific and technological frontier is also a moral frontier, with implications for all life on the planet. Until now, the discourse on the ethics of genome editing has been dominated by scientists, who claim authority because only they understand what can be done with current knowledge. Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard Kennedy School, has pioneered an effort to make the life sciences and technologies more accountable to human values and purposes. At Falling Walls, Jasanoff discusses how the recently established Global Observatory for Genome Editing seeks to restore the principle of democratic governance by including more diverse voices in the discourse around the ethics of genome editing and other emerging biotechnologies.
Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in her field, she has authored more than 130 articles and chapters and is author or editor of more than 15 books, including The Fifth Branch, Science at the Bar, Designs on Nature, The Ethics of Invention, and Can Science Make Sense of Life? Her work explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. She founded and directs the STS Program at Harvard; previously, she was founding chair of the STS Department at Cornell. She has held distinguished visiting appointments at leading universities in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US.
Jasanoff served on the AAAS Board of Directors and as President of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Her honors include, most recently, the 2022 Holberg Prize – dubbed the Nobel prize for social science and humanities – for her extensive contributions to the field of science and technology studies. She is also the recipient of the SSRC’s Hirschman prize, the Humboldt Foundation’s Reimar-Lüst award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ehrenkreuz from the Government of Austria, and foreign memberships in the British Academy and the Royal Danish Academy. She holds AB, JD, and PhD degrees from Harvard, and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Twente and Liège.