Faculty Spotlight


Professor Fred Turner in a headshot with a black button up shirt

Fred Turner: Harry & Norman Chandler Professor of Communication, and by courtesy of History and Art & Art History 

Professor Turner discovered the STS discipline by “Sorting Things Out”.

Prior to teaching at Stanford he was a Communications Professor at both Harvard and MIT, however, his STS roots have even earlier origins. He says when he was in grad school, "[o]ne of my professors turned me on to Geof Bowker and Susan Leigh Star's book "Sorting Things Out" -- and suddenly all the social work that goes into solidifying technologies and through technologies, our social world, hit me over the head. After that, I went on a reading spree.” We’re so glad that you did Professor!

As a cultural historian, he believes STS has truly transformed his research.

He mentions, “[u]sually folks in my line of work look at the history of aesthetics and ideas. I do that, but I do it by looking at the way those things interact with emerging technologies. My understanding of those interactions comes straight from STS.” His current work is based on, “the collision of new media technologies with feminism, gay activism, and the Fundamentalist Right in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” You can check out his website for more information on his current published work as well as essays, courses, videos, and podcasts. 

Think you know everything there is to know about Professor Turner? Guess again! Not only was Professor Turner the Director of the STS program from 2011 to 2014, but he also enjoys playing the bluegrass banjo and Appalachian dulcimer.

And you might be surprised to know he even has a tik tok. While he hasn’t made any videos yet he does have a few words of wisdom to share with graduating seniors about life after Stanford, “[w]orry much less about what people around you say you should do and much more about pursuing what lights you up. That's what you'll be good at and where you'll do the most good for those around you. And don't be afraid to get lost for a while. Let me tell you, from deep late middle age (I'm 61), the people who got lost in their 20s are the happy ones later on; the people who kept looking for ladders to climb, not so much.” Professor Turner gets to provide this wisdom regularly, as an amazing faculty advisor to a very lucky group of STS students. 

We are shining a light on Professor Fred Turner. Author. Mentor. Leader.