Deb Chachra at Harvard Book Store
How Infrastructure Works:
Inside the Systems That Shape Our World
in conversation with SARA HENDREN
October 20, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes DEB CHACHRA—professor at Olin College of Engineering—for a discussion of her new book How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World. She will be joined in conversation by artist, design researcher, and writer SARA HENDREN.
About How Infrastructure Works
Infrastructure is a marvel, meeting our basic needs and enabling lives of astounding ease and productivity that would have been unimaginable just a century ago. It is the physical manifestation of our social contract—of our ability to work collectively for the public good—and it consists of the most complex and vast technological systems ever created by humans.
A soaring bridge is an obvious infrastructural feat, but so are the mostly hidden reservoirs, transformers, sewers, cables, and pipes that deliver water, energy, and information to wherever we need it. When these systems work well, they hide in plain sight. Engineer and materials scientist Deb Chachra takes readers on a fascinating tour of these essential utilities, revealing how they work, what it takes to keep them running, just how much we rely on them—but also whom they work well for, and who pays the costs.
Across the U.S. and elsewhere, these systems are suffering from systemic neglect and the effects of climate change, becoming unavoidably visible when they break down. Communities that are already marginalized often bear the brunt of these failures. But Chachra maps out a path for transforming and rebuilding our shared infrastructure to be not just functional but also equitable, resilient, and sustainable. The cost of not being able to rely on these systems is unthinkably high. We need to learn how to see them—and fix them, together—before it’s too late.
Praise for How Infrastructure Works
“The urgent problems of the modern era have instilled in so many of us a deep craving to more clearly see the systems that define our lives, to better understand when and why they fail, and to regain agency over a world that can seem too complex to understand much less affect. Fortunately, Deb Chachra has written exactly the book we needed. Revelatory, superbly written, and pulsing with wisdom and humanity, How Infrastructure Works is a masterpiece.” —Ed Yong, author of An Immense World
“A wonderful, wide-ranging narrative addressing the technical, social, personal, historical, and political aspects of the often-disregarded, invisible systems that support us. Forged of a huge heart and vast expertise, it shines with fierce humanity.” —Helen Macdonald, author of Vesper Flights
“How Infrastructure Works gives you x-ray vision into our built environment. It's also a ton of fun to read; Chachra is a gifted stylist and a first-rate intellectual guide.” —Clive Thompson, author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.
While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
- Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.
Ordering a signed book by phone:
- Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
- If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.
Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.
Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!
Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.
I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.
More questions? Give us a call!
Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!
Shipping & Pickup
We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!Learn More »
Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!
Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.Learn More »