Gene I. Rochlin

Emeritus Professor

Gene I. Rochlin is Emeritus Professor in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.  He received his Ph.D. in 1966 from the University of Chicago, in Physics, subsequently retraining in political as an advanced post-doctoral scholar at MIT and Harvard in the mid-1970s.  His research interests have included science, technology and society, cultural and cognitive studies of technical operations, the politics and policy of energy and environmental matters, and the broader cultural, organizational and social implications and consequences of technology – including large technical systems.  He was a principle of the Berkeley High Reliability Project, a multidisciplinary team that has studied the organizational aspects of safety-critical technical systems.  He has also done extensive work on the management, regulation and control of large, complex, high-technology organizations that perform socially critical functions such as nuclear power and air traffic control

He continues to work on the social construction of safety, and on resilience and adaptability in socio-technical systems as an independent scholar. This extends to studies that seek to apply methods, approaches, and theories from a broad spectrum of the humanities and social sciences to the emergent problems  of an increasingly complex and multiply connected world—including military interventions and the detection and prevention of terrorism.  His particular interest is in potential modes of failure in complex, sophisticated technologies and technical systems that can arise from intentional human action as well as from unintentional actions ranging from failures in  interpretation and understanding to physical limitations on human performance. 

Prof. Rochlin’s book Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences o f Computerization (Princeton: 1997), which focused on the vulnerability of organizations and institutions in an earlier phase of global technical integration won the 1999 Don K. Price Award of the Science, Technology and Environmental Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. This organizational perspective continues to inform and delineate his work.


Past courses

(No longer offered by ERG)


Spring 2005 -- ER 121 -- Automobility

Fall 2004 -- ER 251 -- Politics and Political Economy of Energy and the Environment

ERG 251, Fall 1997

ERG 255/PoliSci 289, Spring 1998

ERG 151 Fall 1998Politics and Political Economy of Energy and The Environment

Fall 1998 ERG 290A-1: Proseminar on Science, Technology and Society

Spring 1999 ERG 251: PESTR - Political Economy, Social Theory and Risk

Spring 2001 ERG 290-2: Advanced Proseminar on Science, Technology and Society

Fall 2001 LS 121 -- Automobility

Spring 2002 ERG 251: Political Economy of Energy and the Environment

ERG 151 Fall 2002 --Politics and Political Economy of Energy and The Environment

Fall 2003 - ERG 290-1 - Seminar: Social Studies of Science and Technology

Spring 2004 -- ER 121 -- Automobility



See the FULL text of my book: Trapped in the Net: The Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization

at the Princeton University Press home page



Honors and Awards

  • Shell Oil Predoctoral Fellow, 1964-65
  • National Science Foundation Faculty Fellow (Science Applied to Societal Problems) 1974-75; taken in Political Science (MIT and Berkeley).
  • Scholar-in-Residence, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, Bellagio, Italy, Feb.-March 1981.
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 1986-1987.
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Individual Fellowship for Research and Writing in International Security, 1987-88.
  • Harold D. Lasswell Prize, 1990 (best paper in vol. 23 of Policy Sciences)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Don K. Price award of the American Political Science Association, 1999, for Trapped in the Net, best book on science, technology and politics published in the previous two years.




As of January 2008, no office or office phone at ERG.