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Dr. Elisabeth (“Lis") Sylvan is the Senior Director of Strategy and Programming at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University where she has also served as Interim Executive Director and Managing Director. In her newly developed role, she focuses on the strategy of the center and how this strategy leads to the design and creation of new and refreshed programs, projects, and activities. To that end, she continues to build relationships and projects across BKC's multiple communities and to develop teaching and learning activities across the center's networks.

Throughout her tenure at BKC, Dr. Sylvan has engaged and continues to engage in multiple educational, research, and policy projects. This has included co-leading the Policy Practice (formerly the AI Policy Practice) and the Co-designing Generative Futures initiative. She represents BKC with both the Global Network of Internet & Society Research Centers and the International Network for Digital Self Determination. She works on advising governments and Youth and Media efforts. Sylvan has led many of BKC's educational programs including the Summer Institute and BKC Research Sprints, which include Digital Identity in Times of Crisis, Digital Ethics in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 & Access to Education Learning Spaces, Digital Self Determination, and AI Policy Research Clinic. She is a longstanding member of BKC's Tech through Spec working group.

Dr. Sylvan’s lifelong interest is in sociotechnical systems that support creativity, shared knowledge, and learning. 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 directed a technology development project that supported a web-based community of practice that was focused on data literacy. There she also 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, museums, and tech companies.

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

Advising Governments

Through this project we assist - in the public-interest - people working in governments across the globe in dealing with pressing challenges related to innovative digital…

Digital Identity

Exploring the ethical and human rights considerations of digital identity.

Metaverse: Centering Inclusion

Bringing together experts from various sectors, conducing research to inform decision-making, and contributing to the development of a metaverse with thoughtful values and…

Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers

A collaborative initiative focused on interdisciplinary research on the development, social impact, policy implications, and legal issues concerning the Internet.

Youth and Media

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

Co-Designing Generative Futures

As generative AI technologies have advanced, so too has their potential to transform how people worldwide create, think, work, learn, problem solve, and govern. Given these far…

International Digital Self-Determination Network

BKC is a founding partner in an international network that is defining the concept of digital self-determination and working to ensure that people everywhere are legally, socially…

Alternative Data Futures: Cooperative Principles, Data Trusts, and the Digital Economy

The New School's Platform Cooperativism Consortium and the Berkman Klein Center ran a Research Sprint to explore new pathways for democratic governance of collective data.


Digital Ethics in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 & Access to Education and Learning Spaces

A global research sprint explores digital transformation at a pivotal moment in time

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.

Research Sprint on Takedowns and Transparency with Lumen

Sprint participants worked with members of the Lumen Database team and Berkman Klein Center staff, as well as outside experts to tackle pressing issues concerning online…


Web Integrity Project

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

AI: Policy Research Clinic with the City of Helsinki

During the summer of 2021, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society collaborated with the City of Helsinki’s Education Division and their subcontractor, Saidot, to explore…

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…


May 31, 2023

Exploring the Impacts of Generative AI on the Future of Teaching and Learning

In December 2022, researchers from BKC, OpenAI, and Khan Academy and other experts gathered to discuss the impacts of generative AI on teaching and learning.

Mar 30, 2023

Digital Identity During Times of Crisis

What We Learned During the Fall 2022 Research Sprint

BKC hosted a 10-week Research Sprint from October to December 2022 investigating Digital Identity in Times of Crisis, in collaboration with partners metaLAB at Harvard, the…

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



Co-Designing Shared Futures

BKC Senior Director of Programs and Strategy Lis Sylvan introduces Co-Designing Generative Futures, a collection of multidisciplinary transnational reflections and speculations…

Nov 2, 2023
Center for Democracy and Technology

Report – Sharing the Health: Guidance for Schools When Procuring Mental Health Technologies

The Center for Democracy and Technology, with advice from Sandra Cortesi, Madeline McGee, Leah Plunkett, and Elizabeth Sylvan released a new report to help schools procure…

Jun 27, 2023

Generative AI: What should governments in Latin-America do?

Elisabeth Sylvan and Armando Guio Español propose measures to help governments in Latin America respond to generative AI...

May 17, 2023
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


Mar 5, 2024 @ 4:00 PM

Guardrails: Guiding Human Decisions in the Age of AI

Urs Gasser returns to BKC for a book launch on "Guardrails" about decision governance.

Urs Gasser returns to BKC for a book launch on "Guardrails" about decision governance.

Jun 28, 2022 @ 11:00 AM

Empowering People in Their Digital Lives: A Conference on Digital Self-Determination

[VIDEO] Hosted by the Directorate of International Law of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Federal Office of Communications and the…