Agricultural Tech History Expert from MIT to Speak at UF
Deborah Fitzgerald, Ph.D., a technology history professor in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Science, Technology, and Society Program (STS), will speak about the industrialization of agriculture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 in the University of Findlay’s Martin Lecture Hall, located in the Brewer Frost Science Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Fitzgerald’s presentation is made possible by Ohio Humanities, a State Affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It parallels the University’s ongoing collaboration with the Hancock Historical Museum to archive local farmers’ stories in a project called “Ohio Farm Stories.” It is also being coordinated by the Findlay-Hancock County Center for Civic Engagement, a pilot project launched at UF earlier this year that brings individuals together to generate dialogue and create social initiatives that shape the lives of individuals and our community’s future.
Fitzgerald’s lecture will address how technological changes have altered the farm-to-dinner-table process. In particular, her presentation will highlight the decision-making processes that occurred that led to a more contemporized agriculture environment in the 1900s.
The former Kenan Sahin dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Fitzgerald received her Bachelor of Arts from Iowa State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the MIT faculty in 1988, she was an assistant professor in Harvard University’s Department of History of Science.
Her research focuses on agriculture in 20th century America. She is interested in the roles of federal, private and corporate institutions that support agriculture, how mechanization has altered rural life, the reciprocal influence of American and non-American agricultural practices and ideas, and overproduction in the modern food industry.
Fitzgerald published “The Business of Breeding: Hybrid Corn in Illinois, 1890-1920,” and “Every Farm a Factory: The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture,” the latter of which won the 2003 Theodore Saloutos Prize for best book of the year from the Agricultural History Society, of which she is a past president.
To maintain the local conversation regarding the intersection of agriculture with current business/technological influences, the Findlay-Hancock County Center for Civic Engagement will also host small focus groups in October. The Center for Civic Engagement will convene these discussions groups to generate dialogue and ideas about how technology could be modified and/or invented to best support the agriculture industry and local farming practices. Business leaders, entrepreneurs, agriculture professionals, and general community members are encouraged to participate in these focus groups. Individuals interested in participating should contact Tricia Valasek at email@example.com.