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MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

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February 2013 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

  




 
QUOTABLE
 

                       "Meeting great challenges requires technical and scientific
                        creativity, and an understanding of the world’s complexities —
                        political, cultural, and economic. The MIT SHASS disciplines
                        empower young engineers and scientists, with multi-dimensional 
                        perspectives and critical thinking skills—so their vital innovations, 
                        and their lives, can succeed."


                                 — Deborah K. Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean,
                                 MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences 





HONORS AND AWARDS

  

PHILOSOPHY
APA honors Judith Jarvis Thomson with the Quinn Prize
MIT Philosophy Professor Emerita Judith Jarvis Thomson has been awarded the 2012 Quinn Prize from the American Philosophical Association in recognition of her lifetime contributions to philosophy and philosophers. An internationally renowned philosopher, Thomson is known for her thought experiments which present simple scenarios that illuminate serious moral and ethical questions. 
More  

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY
David Kaiser wins Physics World’s Book of the Year Award
How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and lecturer in MIT Physics, has been named 2012 Book of the Year by Physics World magazine. The book describes how a group of young, unconventional physicists working in in Northern California in the 1970s changed the face of modern physics. 
Story


SCIENCE, TEHCNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY
AIAA honors David Mindell for Digital Apollo
Mindell's book, exploring the human/machine relationship, is cited as "the best original contribution to aeronautical/ astronautical nonfiction literature published in the last five years" by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
More
   

          



RESEARCH 

   
Research Portfolio 
Research is the engine for the School's capacity to help meet the world's great challenges. To name just a few areas of impact, MIT SHASS research helps alleviate poverty, safeguard elections, steer economies, understand the past and present, inform health policy, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Research Portfolio
 

DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS 
Closing the Gender Gap in Developing Countries
| Esther Duflo 
Which is more effective in improving life for women: economic development or specific programs aimed at increasing equality? 
Review at The Atlantic


HISTORY + WOMEN'S AND GENDER STUDIES 
Writing Armenian Women's History | Meet Lerna Ekmeckcioglu
“There was no Armenian women’s history in Armenian or Turkish,” says Ekmekcioglu, “so, I decided to write it myself!” 
Research Profile

COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES
Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America | Vivek Bald
Of his new book, scholar and documentary filmmaker Vivek Balda says, “It began as a story about the South Asian diaspora, but it became clear that it was also a story about African-American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods, and the families, friendships and communities that South Asian Muslims formed there." 
Story at MIT News  | Book website
  

        

L to R: woman in Bangladesh; Lerna Ekmekcioglu, Assistant Professor of History; detail, book cover of "Bengali Harlem" (photo courtesy of Habib Ullah, Jr., and Harvard University Press)


  

ECONOMICS + ENGINEERING + HEALTH CARE
The health-insurance markets of the (very near) future | Jon Gruber 
An online health-insurance exchange is coming to your state. How effective will it be? 
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News


DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS 
The high value of water
New study in Morocco by Esther Duflo and colleagues shows how much acquiring clean, running water improves people's happiness. “It is incredibly important," says Duflo, "to recognize the legitimacy of such desires [as convenience] in thinking about what are the important investments.” 
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News 


COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES | WRITING
10 PRINT | Nick Montfort et al. examine cultural significance of computer code 
A book co-written by Montfort, Assistant Professor of Digital Writing, MIT Librarian Patsy Baudoin, and others takes a single line of code—the concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64, which also serves as the book's title—and uses it as a lens to examine both the phenomenon of creative computing and computer programs in culture. 
More | Book website

Bookshelf
The research of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences appears principally in the form of books and publications, and music and theater productions. These gems of the School provide new knowledge and analysis, innovation and insight, guidance for policy, and nourishment for lives.  
Take a look

 

          

L to R: U.S. Affordable Care Act; detail, water study image (by Christine Daniloff); detail, cover of "10 Print"


 

Foreign Languages and Literatures 
Why is Japanese anime a global hit? | Ian Condry 
“Anime is imbued with a sense of social energy,” Condry says. His new book identifies audience participation and creative collaboration as the soul of anime, the key to its worldwide popularity. 
More at MIT News

Anthropology 
The Exit Zero Project | Christine Walley 
"If you want to understand the expanding class inequality in the United States, one of the places you have to look is the long-term impact of deindustrialization. We have to think historically about how we got into this position and how we can come out of it.”  Walley's new book and accompanying documentary recount the aftermath when steel plants suddenly closed in the American heartland. 
Story+ Video at MIT News

 

Political Science 
Why do some immigrants get citizenship? | Jens Hainmueller 
Hainmueller's innovative study of European immigrants suggests that country of origin is a 'massive disadvantage' for some immigrants. Other qualifications being equal, migrants from certain countries may be roughly 40 percent less likely than others to gain citizenship.   
Full story

        

L to R: detail, "The Soul of Anime," book cover: detail, "Exit Zero" book cover; area of immigrant



NEWS

 

INTERNATIONAL POLICY 
President Obama announces intent to appoint Esther Duflo to Global Development Council
Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, and a founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).
More


HISTORY AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES 
Q&A: Associate Provost Philip Khoury on foreign policy in the Middle East
Khoury, the Ford International Professor of History also reflects on how an engineering school benefits the humanities, arts, and social science communities, and vice versa.
Interview in Précis

MUSIC
My Dark Materials | Keeril Makan 
New York Times commentary (with audio clips) by acclaimed MIT composer Keeril Makan 
Read + Listen  | Makan on The Listening Room   

 

          

L: Esther Duflo,  Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics; 
R: Keeril Makan, Associate Professor of Music 


 

ECONOMICS
Introducing the first MIT Economics course for edX 
14.73x | The Challenges of Global Poverty. Free & Online—for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.  
Introduction to issues of poverty and development economics, as conceptualized by leading economists and political scientists. 
Read more + Register


PHILOSOPHY
The Philosopher's Secret
Consistently ranked among the top ten philosophy departments in the country, MIT’s small philosophy section recently drew additional attention for its extraordinary success in placing PhD graduates in tenure-track positions at top philosophy programs nationwide. What's the secret? 
More


 
 

                         "The thing about MIT is that people are
                 talking philosophy in the halls all the time."

                                — Selim Berker PhD ’07,
                                 Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

 


 

COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES
Junot Díaz on Moyers & Company 
Bill Moyers interviews Junot Díaz, Pulitzer prize-winning author and MIT Professor of Writing. On the evolution of the American story, Junot says: a “new country is emerging.” 
Video | MIT Writing


POLITICAL SCIENCE + THE BOSTON REVIEW
"Ideas Matter" explores the Occupy Movement and Climate Change   
Ideas Matter, a joint project of Boston Review and the MIT SHASS Department of Political Science, brings Boston Review writers together with other experts and practitioners for debate on the challenges of our times. 
More | MIT Climate Change Resources


HISTORY
Craig Wilder, head of MIT History, featured in new Ken Burns film
Wilder served as a consultant on the Ken Burns documentary, "The Central Park Five.” He also appears in the film, providing historical perspective: "We have the language and the social rituals for dehumanizing and criminalizing the poor," he says, "and for legitimating vengeance against people whom we choose to fear. We have no such apparatus for correcting the injustices that result from these moments."  
Interview with Craig Wilder

   

             

L to R: Junot Díaz, Professor of Writing; English Robin; Craig Wilder, Head of MIT History


 

OPPORTUNITIES AND FORTHCOMING EVENTS
 

Apply by February 15
Submissions open for the Isabelle de Courtivron Prize
The de Courtivron Prize is open to all MIT undergraduate students. The submission deadline is Feb. 15, 2013, and the winner will be announced in April. The awardee will receive $400, and the winning submission will be featured on the Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies website.
Learn more + apply 
  

February 22  | 8 pm | Kresge Auditorium
An Evening with Comedian Jim Gaffigan
Tickets are free for MIT students and will be available by lottery until February 13, 2013. A limited number of tickets will also be available at the door on the night of the event. 
Information + tickets | The de Florez Fund for Humor

February 2013
Arts at MIT Events 
Concerts, theater, dance, installations, readings, exhibits, and boundary-defying works.   
Calendar of Events  | The Golden Anniversary of MIT Jazz



          




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The Listening Room
| MIT Music Online
Passage from Sergei Rachmaninoff's
"Etude-Tableaux in C Major"
Performed by MIT Emerson Scholar, Amanda Mok
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