Research, News, and Kudos
from the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities,
Arts, and Social Sciences
“MIT SHASS is important because all the rest of the endeavors at which the Institute so excels — science, engineering, business, and architecture — exist within social, political, cultural, and economic contexts, and those are the realms that the SHASS faculty research and explore." — Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean
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"Humanity faces urgent challenges — challenges whose solutions depend on marrying advanced technical and scientific capabilities with a deep understanding of the world's political, cultural, and economic complexities." — L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT
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Noting that all undergraduates at MIT take a minimum of eight classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, Nobles said, "The world’s problems are so complex they’re not only science and technological problems. They are as much human and moral problems.”
Resolving public health crises requires astute political leadership and an informed public as well as the best medical science. The MIT Global Health and Medical Humanities Initiative, led by Erica James is bringing together expertise in political, economic, social, and cultural realms.
In Keeril Makan's most recent Introduction to Composition class, students were asked to design a musical instrument. Some made flutes, chimes, and homemade drums. Sergheyev, Lopez, and Liu decided to make musical textures from nuclear radiation — gamma sonification.
In Making in America, Suzanne Berger, Starbuck Professor of Poltical Science, describes ways to strengthen American manufacturing, including public-private collaborations, manufacturing innovation institutes, and industry-community college projects.
In a recent book, political scientist Andrea Campbell gives a firsthand perspective on how America’s means-tested social insurance programs inadvertently keep the people they are intended to help in a state of perpetual financial distress. Campbell also proposes more sensible social policy.
Consistently ranked among the top philosophy departments in the nation, MIT Philosophy recently also drew attention for extraordinary success in placing its PhD graduates in tenure-track positions. What's the secret?
Today, unprecedented numbers of incoming students—80 percent—arrive at MIT with deep experience in the arts, especially in music.
Can science describe everything there is to know about the world? Do humans have free will? What is it for a sentence to be "true"? Dig into these and other questions at Wi-Phi — an online, interactive toolkit for building a better mind.
Story + Wi-Phi
Shigeru Miyagawa, MIT Professor of Linguistics, says the balance of evidence suggests human language is a grafting of two communication forms found elsewhere in the animal kingdom: the elaborate songs of birds, and information-bearing expression seen in various other animals.
“Higher education, and public education, is America’s best idea,” says MIT economist David Autor. “Our decision to send our entire public through high school over the first 30 years of the 20th century was probably the single most important factor in U.S. economic predominance for that century.”
Part of the "Common Threads" video, produced for MIT's 150th anniversary celebration, this three-minute clip traces the rise of the humanities, arts, sciences, and social science disciplines at MIT.
Watch for the appearance of Winston Churchill!