21st CENTURY DEMOCRACY

Social Justice
 

     

In this websection, MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences draws on the expertise of our faculty and colleagues across the Institute to provide research-based insights and resources for strengthening democracy at home and around the world. 

Democracy Homepage
             


                                         Gallery of Publications

Detail, Native American territories, Massachusett

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Indigeneity at MIT | A Conversation with David Shane Lowry '03 ('07)
 

Dr. Lowry is the Distinguished Fellow in Native American Studies at MIT, tasked with leading a conversation at MIT about the actions and responsibilities of the Institute in the history and current realities of Native American communities. A member of the Lumbee Tribe who trained as an anthropologist at MIT, Lowry focuses his research on people and institutions that impact personal and cultural healing.  

Brian Williams, MIT Class of 22

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Brian Williams ’22 | Biological Engineering + Black Studies
 

Williams is using bioengineering and black studies as a launchpad to combat racism in public health, to use "the toolbox of social justice, pulling the levers of activism, advocacy, democracy, and legislation to improve our social institutions at the root.”

prison

POLITICAL SCIENCE

Making voting easier for previously incarcerated people
 

People rarely vote after being incarcerated. Associate Professor Ariel White wonders what can be done about it.

Rt. Hon. David Miliband SM ’90

DEMOCRACY | HUMAN RIGHTS

Rt. Hon. David Miliband SM ’90 receives the 2021 Robert A. Muh Alumni Award
 

His award lecture proposes an "accountability agenda" to restore respect for human rights, democratic norms, and the rights of civilians in combat zones.

portrait of Terri Lyne Carrington

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Advancing social justice through music and media
 

It Must Be Now! explores subject matter that includes institutional racism; environmental, economic, gender, and health injustices; police brutality; and abolitionism.

Yellow Marigold

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

The Bluest Eye turns 50
 

Commentary by MIT Professor Sandy Alexandre on Toni Morrison's debut novel: "Morrison’s exquisite language has always given her readers a variety of ways, routes, and turns of phrase to understand the world, so perhaps it’s no surprise that she has rendered something like 'structural racism' comprehensible."

Portrait of Nasir Almasri '21

MEET OUR STUDENTS

Profile | Nasir Almasri '21
 

Political science PhD candidate studies conflicts that emerge at the intersection of politics and religious traditions, with a focus on humanizing those involved.

Melissa Nobles, Professor of Political Science at MIT, Chancellor of MIT

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY | RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

Unearthing the stories of yesterday’s George Floyds
 

"When we call the victims’ descendants to share our findings, they tell us ‘I never thought I’d get this call.’ The scars remain, and luckily, because we have found documents, so does proof." — Melissa Nobles, Professor of Political Science; MIT Chancellor 2021 - ; Kenan Sahin Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences 2015-2021

Portrait of Helen Elaine Lee

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY | DEI

Everyone's work
 

Professor of Writing Helen Elaine Lee calls for more engagement in creating racial justice.

Protest Mask: I Can't Breathe

THE MEANINGS OF MASKS

A collective cry for justice | Graham M. Jones
Anthropology
 

"The mask is one of the most important human artifacts in all of anthropology. It is a tool of transformation that allows its wearers to transcend themselves, taking on timeless roles in ritual dramas, and as actors in a broader social drama."

CMSW emblem

RACIAL EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

A Path Forward
 

Statement from the faculty of the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing program

Portrait of Professor of History Malick Ghachem

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Voices from the MIT Community Vigil
 

Historian Malick Ghachem delivers remarks on a divided moment.

portrait of Professor Sandy Alexandre

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Words + Words + Words
 

Sandy Alexandre, Associate Professor of Literature, honors and thanks all of the justice-seeking words that came before our 2020 ones.

Portrait of anthropologist Manduhai Buhandelger

EDUCATION

An ethnology of disruptions in Cambridge, MA
 

At American Ethnologist, MIT anthropologist Manduhai Buyandelger tracks racism, virtual realities, and world building in Cambridge during the Covid-19 pandemic

spheres of justice - chalk on blackboard

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Looking at justice through the lens of political theory
 

In Bernardo Zacka's 17.01 class, MIT students explore human values and competing theories of the just society

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | LEGACY OF SLAVERY

The Task of History
 

MIT historians discuss the power of historical knowledge to help make a better world.

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

MIT and the Legacy of Slavery Project
Stories, Videos, Community Dialogue
 

“I believe the work of this class is important to the present — and to the future. Something I have always loved about the MIT community is that we seek, and we face, facts. What can history teach us now, as we work to invent the future? How can we make sure that the technologies we invent will contribute to making a better world for all?"   — L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT

Media and Resource Collection | MIT and the Legacy of Slavery
 

Collected stories, videos, media, websites, and other resources about the MIT and Legacy of Slavery project

photo of Jamelle Bouie, Slate editor

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Race and Racism in the 2016 Election
 

Slate chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie joins MIT’s Seth Mnookin to explore how race and ethnicity framed the election.

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Racism, Violence, and Democracy
 

Video of a panel discussion on November 16, 2016,​ sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies.

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Election Insights: Ariel White on Racial Attitudes and Bias
 

"There's evidence that government is less responsive to people of color. In my work with Julie Faller and Noah Nathan, we have found that election officials are less likely to respond to informational questions about voting eligibility when they're sent from Hispanic-sounding names than when they're sent by non-Hispanic white names. These officials didn't respond rudely to Hispanic questioners; they simply didn't write back as often, and didn't answer their questions as well." 

HEALTH CARE | EQUITY

3 Questions with political scientist Andrea Campbell
Healthcare is both a political and a technical issue
 

"Any initiative to address health and health care goals must wrestle with and address the enormous disparities that exist in health coverage, access, and outcomes across racial and income groups in the United States. It’s as if poor or black Americans are living in a different country, and in terms of poverty, health insurance, and health care access, effectively they are. This is a political and social problem as much as a technical one." 

RESEARCH TO POLICY | ADVANCING JUSTICE

3 Questions | Melissa Nobles on advancing racial and restorative justice
 

Melissa Nobles, Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Professor of Political Science, researches historical injustices in democracies. MIT SHASS Communications spoke with Nobles in 2015 about the ongoing aftermath of shooting deaths in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland, and what her research suggests about the current efforts to advance civil rights in America.