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Michael Bess is Chancellor's Professor of History, Professor of European Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is a specialist in twentieth-century Europe, with a particular interest in the social and cultural impacts of technological change. He earned his PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989. 
He is the author of four books: Our Grandchildren Redesigned (Beacon Press, 2015); Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II (Knopf, 2006); The Light-Green Society: Ecology and Technological Modernity in France, 1960-2000 (U. of Chicago Press, 2003; French Translation, 2011, Champ Vallon), which won the George Perkins Marsh prize (2004) of the American Society for Environmental History and an Honorable Mention (2004) from the Pinkney Prize committee of the Society for French Historical Studies; and Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud: Four Activist Intellectuals and Their Strategies for Peace, 1945-1989. Louise Weiss (France), Leo Szilard (United States), E. P. Thompson (England), Danilo Dolci (Italy) (U. of Chicago Press, 1993).
His most recent book project, Our Grandchildren Redesigned (Beacon Press, 2015) explores the ethical and social implications of new technologies for human biological enhancement.
Awards, Fellowships, and Grants
Bess has received fellowships or grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Institutes of Health / National Human Genome Research Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Fulbright research grants program, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.
Bess has won the Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching, and the Vanderbilt Chair of Teaching Excellence.
- "Our Grandchildren Redesigned" (Beacon Press, 2015)
- "Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II" (Knopf, 2006)
- "The Light-Green Society: Ecology and Technological Modernity in France, 1960-2000" (U. of Chicago Press, 2003)
- "Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud: Four Activist Intellectuals and their Strategies for Peace, 1945-1989" (U. of Chicago Press, 1993)