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

Research Portfolio | Archive 




Science, Technology, and Society
How "plastic" are we — and how determined by DNA?

Evelyn Fox Keller, professor emerita in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, is a leading historian of biology whose 2010 book, The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture, argues that it is a mistake to think that heredity and the environment (nature and nurture) can be separated when “the entanglement” of these two factors “is not only immensely intricate, but is there from the start.”

Interview with Evelyn Fox Keller | More


Are experiments good science?

The history of natural philosophy, experimentalism, theater, politics, and religion all converge in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes,” a play that emerged from a class in the School’s Theater Arts section. The play, which opened in London, explores the link between the rise of experimental science and the closing of England’s theaters.





Center for International Studies
Can online tools improve U.S. Iran relations?

Writing the history of any conflict presents the challenge of bias. So what would happen if both sides could agree on what happened? HyperStudio is helping bring policymakers together—with access to a wealth of original documents—to reexamine the U.S.-Iran relationship. History may never be the same.

Political Science
Making voting technology safe for democracy


Data show that between 4 million and 6 million votes were lost in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Ever since, the School’s political scientists have been working to create a better electoral system. 



Could environmental advocates win more often?


The roots of modern environmental consciousness go back to 19th century England, when opponents of a Lake District dam were among the first to argue that everyone has a stake in the landscape. In a recent book, History Professor Harriet Ritvo explores why nature's advocates did not prevail then—and often still don't.



Center for International Studies | Security Studies Program 
Is there a peaceful way to address Iran's nuclear ambitions?

Iran wants to stand tall in the world—providing its own nuclear power. The United States opposes any uranium enrichment in Iran—to forestall nuclear armament. Jim Walsh, a research associate in the Center for International Studies, proposes a solution to this standoff—and policymakers are listening. 


What is the cost of hidden taxes?

Electronic tolls ease congestion on roadways but distance voters from the act of paying taxes. Economist Amy Finkelstein has found that drivers who use E-ZPass and similar technologies rarely even know how much they are paying in tolls. The result? Higher tolls without the political consequences usually associated with a rise in taxes.  





Digital Humanities
Visualizing Cultures transforms scholarship

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 innovative "Visualizing Cultures" brings historical images to light online, along with scholarly commentary. 



Comparative Media Studies
Can we close the media gap?

Roughly 60 percent of teens produce and share original content online, although they typically can't use these skills at school. Meanwhile, the other 40 percent are being left behind by the new media culture. To bridge this education gap, the School's CMS researchers have developed the Learning Library. Initiated and developed at MIT 2005 - 2009 


Comparative Media Studies
What can we learn from giant robots?

Globalization isn’t just about wider markets. It’s also a grassroots cultural movement, evident in the flow of trends and fan cultures from east to west and back again. Through a MISTI Global Seed Fund, MIT students are exploring these forces in a “live action animé" performance—giant robots and all—in Japan. 



Women's and Gender Studies | Literature 

What is the power of song?

Ruth Perry, Professor in the Literature section and the Women and Gender Studies program, is discovering that folk ballads played a key role in the Scottish Enlightenment. A significant repertoire of these ballads—the earliest known poetry in the English language—came to light thanks to one woman: Anna Gordon Brown.