Said and Done

Communications Digest | April 2010
Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences





Norvin Richards, Professor of Linguistics, named MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Making the announcement, Rafael Reif said, “Appointment as a MacVicar Fellow recognizes professors who have made exemplary and sustained contributions to the teaching and complete education of MIT undergraduates.” The 10-year fellowship supports faculty efforts to enrich undergraduate learning. (detail of photo by Patrick Gillooly)




The Dean's Office recently completed our move to Building 4. Dean Fitzgerald and Associate Dean von Fintel are located in 4-212, and the rest of the Dean's Office staff is located in 4-240. Our telephone numbers will remain the same and can be found at Meet the Staff. All of us in the Dean's Office look forward to welcoming you to our new quarters:

Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences 
Building 4-212 and 4-240
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139 



Literature + HyperStudio
Why was the Victorian serial novel such a success?
Released in serial format, these novels appealed to Victorians of all classes, who read them aloud in groups and passed the pages from hand to hand. What would it be like to read novels this way today? HyperStudio and the Literature section have teamed up to find out.

Why do questions take the form they do?
In Uttering Trees, published this month by MIT Press, linguist Norvin Richards presents research that explains how the noises we make help to shape the sentences we speak.
 Of Uttering Trees, linguist Elena Anagnostopoulou writes, "A brilliant book by one of the most creative minds in the field."
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

CIS | Security Studies Program
Why is China building up its military?

Americans who grew up in the Cold War era sometimes view China’s growing military arsenal with concern, but research from Taylor Fravel, associate professor of political science, indicates that China’s military is principally focused on upgrading outdated equipment and keeping order internally.

Bookshelf | Current Edition 
New knowledge and analysis
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Robert Muh | Life Trustee, MIT Corporation; Chair, Humanities Visiting Committee; CEO, Sutter Securities, Inc.  
A leader in finance, Muh has also made a mission of championing MIT’s remarkable contributions in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The bienniel Muh Award shines a light on MIT's strength in these fields. 

Cynthia Kinnan | Economics Doctoral Student
Development economics goes beyond theory—you have to live it, says Cynthia Kinnan, a doctoral student in the Jameel Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Kinnan lived her research in Hyderabad, India, where she traveled on a summer fellowship to oversee a survey evaluating the impact of a microfinance program. 



Memorial gathering for Nobel laureate Paul Samuelson
Family, friends, and colleagues of the late Paul Samuelson will celebrate the MIT economist’s extraordinary life and legacy during a memorial service at 11 am on Saturday, April 10, in Kresge Auditorium.



Diamond Watch | Premiere of Harbison work to honor Institute Professor Peter Diamond
On Friday, April 30, the retirement of Institute Professor Peter Diamond will be honored by the premiere of a work by composer John Harbison, another of MIT's Institute Professors. The piece, drolly titled, Diamond Watch, was commissioned by Priscilla (Kate) Myrick Diamond, as a birthday present for her husband. 



Peter Blair Henry named Dean of NYU's Stern School of Business
Henry, who received his PhD in Economics from MIT in 1997, is a Rhodes Scholar, the leader of the Obama Transition Team’s review of the IMF, World Bank, and other international lending agencies, and an economic advisor to governments from the Caribbean to Africa. Dean Henry’s scholarship focuses on the impact of economic reform on emerging economies.

Rebuilding Haiti 
Four MIT scholars with strong ties to Haiti spoke at “Rebuilding Haiti,” a Starr Forum held to explore the future of the country devastated by a January 12 earthquake. Contributing were Michel DeGraff, associate professor of linguistics; Erica James, associate professor of anthropology; Cherie Miot Abbanat, lecturer, Urban Studies and Planning; and Dale Joachim, visiting scientist at the Media lab. (The writing on the stone reads: "Avis Atis La Pa Mouri."  The artist is not dead.) 

Revised distribution component of MIT's HASS Requirement begins Fall 2010
First-year students entering in Fall 2010 will be the first cohort to follow the revised distribution component of the HASS Requirement. Undergraduates who entered before Fall 2010 are not affected by the revision.  
More information


Hunt Allcott on behavioral economics and the energy crisis
Hunt Allcott, a behavioral economist with a two-year appointment as the Energy and Society Fellow in MIT’s Department of Economics and the MIT Energy Initiative, is applying his field’s research to the realm of energy use.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

On the Human: online forum with Harriet Ritvo
Ritvo's essay "Humans and Humanists (and Scientists)" is the focus of an on-line forum sponsored by the National Humanities Center. Ritvo writes that "Many characteristics that once seemed exclusively or at least distinctively human, including moral intuition, oppressive patriarchy, internecine strife, and cannibalism, turn out to be more widely distributed."  




Greener Online 
Starting this year, the spring edition of Soundings Magazine becomes an online publication. School faculty and staff are automatically subscribed; all others sign up to stay in touch with leading MIT research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. 
Join our magazine email list




Rebuilding Haiti
Four MIT panelists with strong personal and professional ties to Haiti share their ideas and insights about the country's future.



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