Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD


STS Research Seminar - Dr Kathleen Vogel (UMD) - Weds 10th October

10 October 2018, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

Dr Kathleen Vogel

Kathleen Vogel (University of Maryland/Visiting STS/Turing fellow) ‘Bringing the National Security Agency into the classroom: ethical reflections on academia-intelligence agency partnerships’

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Department of Science and Technology Studies – Department of Science and Technology Studies.
0207 6791328


Room 110
45: Roberts Building
Torrington Place
United Kingdom

The STS Research Seminar series allows the department to exhibit some of the most interesting recent research in our field. We invite speakers both from UCL and the wider community to present their research to a varied and curious audience. On Wednesday 10th October, Dr Kathleen Vogel will visit the department to give her talk on 'Bringing the National Security Agency into the classroom: Ethical reflections on academia-intelligence agency partnerships'. The talk will begin at 4.30, with refreshments available from 4pm.


Academia-intelligence agency collaborations are on the rise for a variety of reasons. These can take many forms, one of which is in the classroom, using students to stand in for intelligence analysts. Classrooms, however, are ethically complex spaces, with students considered vulnerable populations, and become even more complex when layering multiple goals, activities, tools, and stakeholders over those traditionally present. This does not necessarily mean one must shy away from academia-intelligence agency partnerships in classrooms, but that these must be conducted carefully and reflexively. This presentation hopes to contribute to this conversation by describing one purposeful classroom encounter that occurred between a professor, students, and intelligence practitioners in the fall of 2015 at North Carolina State University: an experiment conducted as part of a graduate-level political science class that involved students working with a prototype analytic technology, a type of participatory sensing/self-tracking device, developed by the National Security Agency. This experiment opened up the following questions that this presentation will explore: What social, ethical, and pedagogical considerations arise with the deployment of a prototype intelligence technology in the college classroom, and how can they be addressed? How can academia-intelligence agency collaboration in the classroom be conducted in ways that provide benefits to all parties, while minimizing disruptions and negative consequences? This presentation will discuss the experimental findings in the context of ethical perspectives involved in values in design and participatory/self-tracking data practices, and discuss lessons learned for the ethics of future academia-intelligence agency partnerships in the classroom.



About the Speaker

Dr Kathleen Vogel

at University of Maryland

Kathleen Vogel first became interested in biological weapons during her graduate work in the sciences at Princeton University, where she developed a side interest in science policy issues. After receiving her PhD in biological chemistry, she transitioned from a scientific career to one in science policy. For the next five years, Vogel conducted security policy research at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies within the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Peace Studies Program at Cornell University, the Cooperative Monitoring Center at Sandia National Laboratories, the Institute for Public Policy at the University of New Mexico, and the Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction in U.S. Department of State. 

Although these policy-oriented positions were fruitful learning experiences, Vogel was not satisfied with the existing tools and policy frameworks for understanding bioweapons threats and how to design appropriate policy responses. Her own bioweapons-related research indicated a much more complex set of factors that seemed to shape proliferation threats compared to existing policy discourse. This dissatisfaction has led to the search for and discovery of alternative theoretical tools that reshape the discourse centered around biological weapons, with the hopes of creating a new and generative intellectual conversation between academia and policy.

Vogel has a BA in Chemistry, Biology and Spanish from Drury College, and holds an MA and PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University.

More about Dr Kathleen Vogel