Charles Weiner
Professor Emeritus of History of Science
United States

Charles Weiner joined the MIT faculty in 1974 as Professor of History of Science and Technology. Prior to that he was Director of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics from its founding in 1964 until 1974. His research, writing and teaching focus on the political, social and ethical dimensions of contemporary science and the involvement of scientists in public controversies arising from their work.

Since the mid-1970s he has been documenting the development and responses to genetic engineering and biotechnology. He directed the project to create MIT’s Recombinant DNA History Collection of oral history interviews, videotapes and archival documents. His writings and public lectures have dealt with the history of academic patenting of biomedical research results, the environmental, safety and ethical aspects of genetic engineering and biotechnology, conflicts between self-regulation and public participation in genetic engineering*, the development of nuclear physics, and the roles of scientists and community organizations in controversies on the health and environmental effects of fallout from nuclear weapons testing.

Dr. Weiner is presently completing a book on the history of social responsibility in science from the atomic bomb through contemporary genetic engineering. A new edition of his book Robert Oppenheimer: Letters and Recollections (with Alice K. Smith) was published in 1995. He is the editor of three other books in the history of science. His courses at MIT have included "Biotechnology and Society," "Engineers, Scientists and Public Controversies," and "American Science: Ethical Conflicts and Political Choices." He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and is a Fellow of the AAAS.

In 1996 Weiner became Professor Emeritus in the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society. He presented the Arthur Miller Lecture on Science and Ethics at MIT in 2002. In 2001 he was a Visiting Professor at the University of California-Berkeley teaching an undergraduate course in Bioethics and a graduate seminar on Biotechnology and Society. He was appointed Regents' Lecturer at UC Berkeley for the spring semester 2003. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at New York University.

*C. Weiner. Drawing the line in genetic engineering: Self-regulation and public participation. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine vol.44, no.2, Spring 2001, pp.208-220.

*C. Weiner. Social responsibility in genetic engineering: Historical perspectives.
In A. Nordgren, ed.. Gene Therapy and Ethics. (Uppsala 1999), 51-64.

Sessions I'm Associated With


Tuesday 26 July 2011: 8:00pm - 9:10pm
Wednesday 27 July 2011: 9:00am - 10:20am


Thursday 29 July 2010: 11:30am - 12:45pm