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Honorary degree citation - Sherry Turkle

By: Kim Sawchuk, June 2016

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Dr. Sherry Turkle, distinguished academic, founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self and one of the sharpest and pre-eminent critical thinkers on how we live, engage with one another in these digital times.

Merging social psychology and communications studies, Dr. Turkle is writes and speaks, with prescience, on the implications and effects of communication technologies on our social skills, interpersonal relationships and well-being.

She offers expertise and insight on the ways that we communicate through screens, mobile media technologies, robotics and social networking Dr. Turkle’s research examines the increasingly omnipresent role of digitally mediated communications in our everyday lives. She explores with nuance how social interactions and identities are transformed when we become overly fixated with the hand-held digital devices that persistently demand immediate responses and beckon for our attention. How many of you have fingers twitching, as I speak, longing to touch your cellphone to text or check your email?

Dans le cadre de son travail, Sherry Turkle répond à l’une des questions les plus importantes de notre époque : maintenant que nous sommes si connectés, pourquoi nous sentons-nous encore si seuls?

Selon elle, nous devons apprendre à mieux gérer les rapports que nous entretenons avec les nouvelles technologies. Autrement, nous ne saurons plus un jour comment communiquer face à face, se regarder dans les yeux, et écouter avec attention et empathie. Ces compétences exigent une pratique quotidienne. Si nous les perdons, la qualité de nos interactions sociales s’en ressentira. Si nous ne cultivons pas notre aptitude à converser et à écouter, nous risquons de nous trouver isolés et aliénés les uns des autres.

This paradoxical phenomenon of feeling alone in the midst of the capacity for permanent and pervasive connection, is the overarching subject of Dr. Turkle’s past classics including Life on Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Species, and Simulation and its Discontents as well as most recent books: Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Her books remind us that books, and sustained cogent arguments, do matter.

Her work is provocative and timely. Her credentials formidable.

Dr. Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

En 2001, elle lance à MIT l’initiative « La technologie et le soi », dont elle est actuellement directrice.

Sherry Turkle est l’auteure de neuf livres touchant à une gamme de sujets : psychologie, politique, technologie et culture de l’écran. Elle a en outre dirigé la publication à MIT Press de trois ouvrages sur les rapports entre les objets et la pensée.

La professeure Turkle s’est vu décerner une bourse Guggenheim et une bourse de recherche en sciences humaines Rockefeller. De plus, elle est membre de l’Académie américaine des arts et des sciences.

A featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology, Dr. Turkle has been profiled and interviewed in a number of major mainstream publications over the years, including The New York Times, Scientific American and Wired.

She has been named “Woman of the Year” by Ms. Magazine, celebrated by as Esquire as one the top “Forty under Forty” individuals changing the nation, and named one of Boston’s top “visionaries, idealists, and thinkers” by Boston Magazine for her books, articles and public engagements.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Dr. Sherry Turkle, so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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