"The supposed line between the 'natural' and the 'social' is of crucial importance for theories of justice: the 'natural' is not as fixed as we might think, and the 'social' can be much more fixed than we imagined. Some differences between us must be respected, and others should be overcome—but which are which?"
Q&A with MIT Philosopher Sally Haslanger
In his "Introduction to Anthropology" class, Jones earned a perfect 7.0 teaching rating on his student evaluations—a nearly unheard of score for a lecture course. The committee also praised Jones for combining lecture and discussion with practice-based activities that give students hands-on experience in ethnographic research—embodying the MIT spirit of mens et manus.
Full Story + Photos
In Making in America, Suzanne Berger, Starbuck Professor of Poltical Science, describes ways to strengthen American manufacturing, including public-private collaborations, new government-initiated manufacturing innovation institutes, and industry-community college projects.
"While water is often perceived to be the source of future wars, rethinking water agreements—and the costs to desalinate seawater— could lead to more cooperation between nations." (Image: wave analysis, Anastasia Azure, Art+Science Synergy project)
The Knight Science Journalism program at MIT has selected 12 journalists, working in six countries, for its 31st class of fellows. These superb journalists will bolster their abilities with studies in science, health, environment and technology at MIT during the academic year 2013-14. (Image: melting glacier).
Meet the MIT Knight Fellows
Sociologist T.L. Taylor studies the subcultures of online gaming and online e-sports.
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
Historian Robert Fogelson’s book tells the story. There was an almost complete cessation of residential construction in New York City during and after WWI. The result was a serious housing shortage and soaring rents. In response, women played a large role in organizing strikes that led to rent-control programs in NYC — and elsewhere in the country.
Developed by HyperStudio, the new online tool improves on traditional techniques for entering marginalia and side notes in books — enabling readers to annotate texts across media, to share comments with others, and to enhance them with links, images, video, and audio.
“The Animal Estate became a foundational text for the new field of animal studies and remains one of the most significant—and sophisticated—histories of how animals have served as metaphors for all kinds of human assumptions and aspirations." — Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
"Today, unprecedented numbers of incoming students—80 percent—arrive at MIT with deep experience in the arts, especially in music. In that context, the arts have never been more integral to the life of MIT nor more deserving of our focus and attention."
— Rafael Reif, President of MIT
MIT economist Arnaud Costinot studies international trade — and is looking again at David Ricardo's Theory of Comparative Advantage as a way to better understand trade between developed and less-developed economies.
In a new book, MIT historian Rosalind Williams asks big questions about progress and the lived human experience. “There is a deep belief in progress of science and technologies," she says, "but there is also an anxiety that comes from that belief. This book explores that paradox. A subtext of the book is to take art seriously. That’s the first place to go to figure out what’s going on in the world!”
Explore the projects in this visual gallery to discover how innovative approaches, tools, and methods for research and teaching are expanding the reach and impact of the humanities at MIT.
Consistently ranked among the top ten philosophy departments in the nation, MIT Philosophy recently also drew attention for extraordinary success in placing its PhD graduates in tenure-track positions nationwide. What's the secret?
Story + Photographs
Surprised that MIT is home to the theater director recently called the best in NYC?
You never know what to expect at a place dedicated to discovery. When people are surprised by MIT—we know we're doing our job!
Story: Scheib to head MIT Theater
(Photo from Jay Scheib's play "Addicted")
Typically, researchers interested in visual artifacts have had to travel far and wide, digging through library basements and museum archives to examine posters, drawings, paintings, and prints. MIT's spectacular "Visualizing Cultures" brings historical images to light online, along with scholarly commentary.
In Phantasmal Media, MIT Digital Media and Artificial Intelligence professor D. Fox Harrell presents a manifesto detailing how computing can create powerful new forms of expression and culture.
We are very pleased to present the newest members of the SHASS faculty — Sana Aiyar, Regina Bateson, Catherine E. Clark, Malick W. Ghachem, Rich Nielsen and Edward Schiappa — who come to us with vast knowledge in their areas of research and expertise.
Meet our new faculty
"Every few months for twelve years, I have visited a Massachusetts prison to teach creative writing to a group of locked-up men.... It is not my job to unravel the skein of their guilt, to judge or absolve. I am here as a witness. I am here in the name of story and its power to transform."
— from "Visible Men," essay by Helen Elaine Lee, MIT Professor of Writing
Essay: NYT Book Review
Profile: Helen Elaine Lee
For 20 years, MIT economist Robert Townsend has explored the links between household finances and economic growth in rural Thailand. His new book, Chronicles from the Field, based on one of the most extensive datasets in the developing world, provides a template for policies that can help alleviate poverty.
"Meeting great challenges requires technical and scientific creativity, and an understanding of the world’s complexities—political, cultural, and economic. MIT's SHASS disciplines empower young engineers and scientists with multi-dimensional perspectives and critical thinking skills—so their innovations, and lives, may be rich in meaning and wisdom."
— Deborah K. Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean
MIT Associate Professor of Literature Sandy Alexandre studies the literary record to shed light on the history of violence against blacks in the U.S. In her first book, Alexandre explores the multiple meanings of "property," showing through examination of visual and textual narratives how and why the notion of property, in the context of America's history of violence against blacks, needs to extend beyond ownership in land.
Full story at MIT News
"A sea change is underway in how people learn about science. One of our goals is to ensure that MIT remains on the vanguard of public science education.” — Thomas Levenson, Director MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing (Image: Little Sun project)
In his new book, Ebony and Ivy, historian Craig Steven Wilder, Head of MIT History, documents the manifold connections between universities and the slave economy in colonial America. Kirkus writes, "A groundbreaking history that will contribute to a reappraisal of some deep-rooted founding myths."
NPR Interview | NYT article
HASTS doctoral student Tom Schilling is conducting an anthropological study of geology, forestry and First Nations-led mapping and modeling in rural British Columbia. Maps, he has found, are more than representations of the land as it is: they are visions for its future. Photocredit: Allegra Boverman
MIT historian Emma Teng's new book Eurasian studies cross-cultural Asian-American families since the 19th century.
Studying History at MIT
(Photograph: Mae Watkins Franking and her children; courtesy of the Franking family)
In MIT'S Concourse program, freshmen explore the sciences, humanities, and social sciences in a small, close-knit community (with a kitchen!). Professor of History Anne McCants, one of MIT's finest teachers, is the new director. Says Jean Xin '14, a brain and cognitive science major: "Concourse offered me the opportunity to explore the broader significance of the technical knowledge I am learning at MIT."
Profile + Photographs
The finest music by MIT’s Music faculty and student-musicians is available at The Listening Room—an online collection that showcases the Institute’s remarkable passion for music. The site presents recordings in four categories—Classical, Jazz, World, and Faculty Opus. Image: MIT President L. Rafael Reif
The Listening Room
Video at MIT News
"Shankar Raman is a renaissance man... He has a passion for knowledge and critical inquiry that embraces both the humanities and the sciences. He is exploring a time when the so-called 'two cultures' divide had not yet opened up, and he is modeling a way to bridge that divide in our own time." — Jim Buzard, Professor of Literature, Head, MIT Literature
Research, News, and Kudos
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts,
and Social Sciences
"An influential mid-20th-century group of French historians called the Annalistes taught that history was driven by long-term changes between human populations and the natural environment, a remarkably prescient insight in a discipline previously characterized by the stories of great men and the formation of nation-states. — Jeffrey Ravel, MIT Professor of History
Interview with Ravel
Image: gardens at Versaille, with 17th-century hydraulic fountains
MIT researchers say 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. “It’s this adventitious combination that triggered human language,” says Shigeru Miyagawa, MIT Professor of Linguistics, and co-author of a paper in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
50 years ago this year, legendary jazz trumpeter Herb Pomeroy joined the MIT Music Program and brought the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble to national prominence. The 2013 season is celebrating Pomeroy and others with special events and concerts to mark the anniversary of formal jazz study at MIT. (Photo: MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble)
SHASS has named 32 undergraduate students as Burchard Scholars for 2013. The award recognizes MIT sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and academic excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. Congratulations, Burchards!