I am a historian of science, technology, and international politics. My work examines the place of computers and expertise in global affairs. Specifically, I research the ways that computer modeling has informed global environmental, economic, and development policy and how these simulations have shaped our collective dreams and nightmares of the future.
My current project is a history of The Limits to Growth report. Released in 1972 by the Club of Rome, Limits was a landmark environmental text that used a computer simulation model called “World3” to argue that humanity was heading on a course towards environmental and economic collapse by the middle of the 21st century. My dissertation, “World Processors: Computer Simulation, the Limits to Growth, and the Birth of Sustainable Development,” provides an intellectual biography of the World3 model, charting its unlikely origins and showing how its designers sought to convince a skeptical global public of the truth of its conclusions.
I am currently completing my Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University. Before that, I received an MA in German history and a BA in history and political science from Georgia State University in Atlanta. In the past, I have written on the use of economic simulation in postcolonial development planning and a failed attempt in the 1960s to reorganize the East German planned economy using cybernetic principles. My work has been sponsored by fellowships from the Charles Babbage Institute and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.