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Elisabeth Sylvan

Managing Director

Dr. Elisabeth (“Lis") Sylvan is the Managing Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Dr. Sylvan’s lifelong interest is in sociotechnical systems that support creativity, shared knowledge, and collaboration. This background allows Dr. Sylvan to spearhead new programs and educational initiatives and to support the center to work in a more integrated and collaborative manner. She has launched new educational initiatives such as the Summer Institute and Research Sprints and Clinics. The Research Sprints and Clinics are part of The Ethics of Digitalization program and include Digital Ethics in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 & Access to Education Learning Spaces, Digital Self Determination, and AI Implementations in Education. She leads multiple initiatives within the Policy Practice AI on topics related to education, youth, and technology. Dr. Sylvan also co-organizes the Tech through Spec working group.

Before joining BKC, Dr. Sylvan worked for herself and for multiple nonprofits. She was the Vice President of Education at The Tech Museum in Silicon Valley (now The Tech Interactive) where she created a new education department. While Maker in Residence at the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, she launched a makerspace for K14 educators and community college students and taught classes on makerspace practices and instructional design. As a Fellow and Director of Learning and Community at Manylabs she developed programs for communities to use environmental and social sensors for civic action. As a Researcher Scientist and Project Director at TERC, she project directed a web-based community of practice focused on data literacy and researched both the creative design processes of game design teams and the diffusion of ideas in communities of science inquiry within games. Her consulting practice focused on research, education and technology for nonprofits and museums.

Dr Sylvan’s M.S. and Ph.D. are from the MIT Media Lab where her work addressed how sociotechnical systems support shared knowledge and group action. There Dr. Sylvan received fellowships from Highlands and Islands, (2005-2006) and Media Lab Europe (2003-2004.) She was also a fellow with International Society for Design and Development in Education (2011)  and served on the advisory boards of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, zSpace, and the Stanford d-school Build Lab.

Projects & Tools

Digital Self-Determination Research Sprint

From March to May 2021, we co-hosted a virtual program that convened 25 student participants from 21 countries spread over six continents.

The Ethics of Digitalization

Led by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), the Berkman Klein Center, and the Digital Asia Hub, and in collaboration with the Global Network of…

Web Integrity Project

The Web Integrity Project (WIP) monitors changes to government websites

Youth and Media

Youth and Media (YaM) encompasses an array of research, advocacy, and development initiatives around youth (age 12-18) and digital technology.


Fast Company
Jun 25, 2021

What we learned about the future of education from COVID-19

What is learning and where and how does it happen? The pandemic let us consider these questions in new ways.

What is learning and where and how does it happen? The pandemic let us consider these questions in new ways.

Dec 17, 2020

BKC Policy Practice on AI Hosts Expert Review of Colombia’s AI Ethical Framework with Focus on Youth

Colombia President Iván Duque Márquez launches AI framework; BKC’s Urs Gasser delivers keynote

Colombia President Iván Duque Márquez launches AI framework; BKC’s Urs Gasser delivers keynote

Apr 29, 2020

Berkman Klein expands communications, public programming, and community efforts

Joy A. Lo and Lance Eaton join BKC staff, Rebecca Tabasky promoted to Director of Community

Two hires will help shape the future of BKC’s educational programming, outreach, and public messaging.

Jul 31, 2019

Elisabeth Sylvan joins Berkman Klein Center as Managing Director

Sylvan brings a wealth of experiences, perspectives, skills, and networks to BKC


Beaumont Enterprise

Elisabeth Sylvan on public schools and distance learning

BKC's managing director weighs in on the challenges that school districts face

Mar 14, 2020