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 BKC Research Sprints. The Research Sprints 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 Policy Research Clinic. She leads multiple initiatives within the Policy Practice on 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.