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Deborah Fitzgerald is Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), and Professor of the History of Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at MIT. She received her B.A. from Iowa State University (History and English, 1978) and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (History and Sociology of Science, 1985). Prior to joining the MIT faculty in 1988, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.
Fitzgerald's research focuses on agriculture in 20th century America. She is interested in the role of federal, private, and corporate institutions supporting agriculture, in the character of rural life vis-a-vis growing modernization efforts; in the emergence of scientific, technological, and economic ways of knowing and changing the agricultural world; in the interface between nature and landscape, on the one hand, and agriculture on the other; in the reciprocal influence of American and non-American agricultural practices and ideas; and in the role of commodity overproduction in the emergence of the modern food industry.
She is the author of The Business of Breeding: Hybrid Corn in Illinois, 1890-1920 (Cornell, 1990), and Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture (Yale University Press, 2003), which won the 2003 Theodore Saloutos Prize for best book of the year from the Agricultural History Society, of which Fitzgerald is a past president.
Fitzgerald is also the co-sponsor, with Professor Harriet Ritvo, of the MIT Seminar in Environmental and Agricultural History (formerly the Modern Times/Rural Places Seminar).
Beyond the Bench: Preparing MIT Students for the Challenges of Global Leadership
as author at MIT World Series: The Human Factor,
together with: James A. Champy (moderator), Richard J. Samuels, Subra Suresh, Marc A. Kastner, David Schmittlein, Adele Naude Santos,