Said and Done

January 2015 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences




                   "Equal justice under the law, especially as it pertains
                    to criminal justice, is the civil rights issue of our time.
                    Black lives matter, whether they’ve committed a crime
                    or not. And the establishment of innocence or guilt must
                    be determined through fair policing and due process."


                     — Melissa Nobles, Arthur & Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science;
                        and Head, MIT SHASS Department of Political Science




Dean Fitzgerald announces new Cynthia L. Reed Chair in French Studies & Languages
The new chair was made possible by a gift from Cynthia L. Reed and her husband, John S. Reed ’61, former chairman of the MIT Corporation, in continuation of their long-standing support of French at the Institute. Fitzgerald also announced that the inaugural holder of the Reed Chair is Bruno Perreau, Associate Professor of French Studies, whose work focuses on identity, gender, and citizenship.


L-R: Pont Notre Dame; Bruno Perreau, Associate Professor of French Studies; Pont Alexandre III

SHASS selects 35 Burchard Scholars for 2015
The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. Selection is extremely competitive, and the students chosen are unafraid to wrestle with new ideas.

SHASS announces twelve SHASS Research Fund recipients for 2015
The SHASS Research Fund supports research in the areas of humanities, arts, and social sciences that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. 

Posen's Restraint cited as most important book of 2014 | Times Higher Education
Citation: "Barry R. Posen’s recent book, Restraint: A New Foundation for US Grand Strategy (Cornell University Press) improved my mind and might improve the world, via Posen’s original plan for reframing international security. The most important book this year, it has particular significance for countries that over-rely on Uncle Sam."
Times Higher Education | Posen webpage

The twelve SHASS Research Fund recipients for 2014-15 are conducting work on patient/doctor decision models; language technology for distance learning; U.S. class inequality; political violence; non-profit housing; electronic music archives; gender and history; identity and power; and new music and theater works. Story

Buyandelger receives 2014 Francis I. K. Hsu Book Prize
Tragic Spirits, by Associate Professor of Anthropology Manduhai Buyandelger has been awarded the Hsu Book Prize by the Society for East Asian Anthropology, a division of the American Anthropological Association.
More | Buyandelger webpage

Mnookin's New Yorker article named one of five best longform science stories of 2014
Seth Mnookin's article "One of a Kind," published in The New Yorker, was chosen as one of the five best long-form science stories of the year by Longform (University of Pittsburgh).
About award | Article at The New Yorker | Mnookin website

Agarwal named by Forbes to "30 Under 30" leaders in Healthcare
Nikhil Agarwal, an Assistant Professor of Economics, is featured for his research work matching candidates to the best medical residencies.
Story | Agarwal webpage

L to R: Manduhai Buyandelger, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Seth Mnookin, Assistant Professor of Writing; Nikhil Agarwal, Assistant Professor of Economics



Equal justice under the law is the civil rights issue of our time
Commentary by Melissa Nobles, Arthur & Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, and Head, MIT Department of Political Science

"Equal justice under the law, especially as it pertains to criminal justice, is the civil rights issue of our time. For too long, black civil rights advocacy has avoided taking up issues of criminal justice for fear that doing so would diminish the political and moral force of demands for full inclusion. Today’s declaration that black lives matter is a long overdue rebuke of black respectability politics. Black lives matter, whether they’ve committed a crime or not. And the establishment of innocence or guilt must be determined through fair policing and due process."

Full commentary at Boston Review | Nobles webpage


Melissa Nobles, Arthur & Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science; and Head, MIT SHASS Department of Political Science




Discover the emerging voices in science writing at Scope
Scope, the superb online publication of students in the MIT SHASS Graduate Program in Science Writing, publishes graduate student videocasts, news and feature articles, essays, book reviews, and radio podcasts. Students in the class of 2014-15 are: Rachel Becker, Christina Couch, Cara Giaimo, Michael Greshko, Anna Nowogrodzki, Sarah Schwartz, Joshua Sokol and Annie Tague.
Visit Scope | Reviews | Current Stories | Multimedia

Undergraduate science writing students produce news website
A major component of CMS.350 / 21W.737, an MIT undergraduate science writing class, is a website project, which serves as a tool for students to learn how to engage readers, and as a repository for class information. Of the project, Professor Seth Mnookin says, "Students are excited about this, and I'd like to let the MIT community know how easy it is to create this sort of site for class work."
CMS.350 Website


Images from Scope, publication of the MIT SHASS Graduate Program in Science Writing


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, generate wise approaches to health, environment, water, and energy challenges, inform effective policy, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Research Portfolio

How to conduct cause-and-effect studies on complex social questions | Joshua Angrist
In a new book, Mastering 'Metrics, Angrist, Ford Professor of Economics, and Jorn-Steffen Pischke detail five methods of identifying causality in society (they call these methods the “furious five” — part of a Kung Fu motif in the text). The furious five of econometrics, they says, are randomized trials; regression analysis; use of the “instrumental variables”; regression discontinuity designs; and the “differences in differences” approach.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News | Angrist webpage

How can Russia's great science ideas thrive in the marketplace? | Loren Graham
"The ongoing inability to turn ideas into commerce has proved to be a profound problem for Russia—and ultimately for the rest of the world as well."
Story | Graham webpage

What kinds of cities have the most diverse police forces? | Christopher Warshaw
This article on the challenges of understanding the relationship between the diversity of the police in major cities to the residents cites and builds upon research done by Christopher Warshaw, MIT Assistant Professor of Political Science.
Story at the Washington Post | Warshaw webpage

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: Joshua Angrist, Ford Professor of Economics; detail of the Shukhof Tower, Moscow; Christopher Warshaw, Assistant Professor of Political Science



Time for the Social Sciences and Humanities | from the editors of Nature
"If you want science to deliver for society, through commerce, government or philanthropy, you need to support a capacity to understand that society that is as deep as your capacity to understand the science."
Editorial in Nature

Bringing Science and Humanities Together | Dean Deborah Fitzgerald
"What does it mean to "converge" science and humanities? Why do we want to do this? And what would it take to succeed?"
Dean Fitzgerald's presentation to the Korean National Academy of Sciences

Video: On the Humanities and American foreign policy | Karl Eikenberry
Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan and US Army Lt. General Karl Eikenberry (Ret.) speaking at the Chicago Humanities Festival on the value of the humanities for conducting successful American foreign policy, and on combining STEM + Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences to meet great world challenges.
Watch video




MIT students create haunting music using particle energy
When you hear the words “music” and “particle energy,” you might not think the two have any kind of connection. Thanks to three MIT students, we have an intriguing new technique that involves making musical compositions from that very energy.
Story at the Daily Dot


Michel DeGraff named to Haitian Kreyòl Academy
The organization was officially inaugurated in Port-au-Prince in early December 2014. An MIT Professor of Linguistics, DeGraff has been a champion of Haitian Kreyòl, as one indispensable tool for Haiti’s development. 
| DeGraff webpage

Students at the Matenwa Community School learn numeration by playing a video game translated into Haitian Kreyòl by MIT Professor of Linguistics Michel DeGraff and his MIT Haiti team. Photocredit Amy Bracken 


Keynote Speech at "Japan Update" | Richard Samuels
Presented by the Australia-Japan Research Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy and the Japan Institute at The Australian National University.
Watch Video  | Samuels webpage

A death and U.S.-Philippines Relations | Christopher Capozolla
Reports that Philippine prosecutors will charge a US Marine Private for murder come at a critical moment.
Story at The Diplomat | Capozolla webpage

The New Yorker on Keeril Makan
"Makan brings the spirit of his diverse musical inheritance into the still center of his compositions, building structures with deep patience and infinite calm. “I hope the emotional narratives of my music will resonate with the audience,” Makan has said. “In this resonance, I think the barriers that separate us are lowered, and our suffering is lessened.”
The New Yorker | Makan website


A gaping hole in the social safety net | Andrea Campbell
MIT political scientist Andrea Campbell is known for her research on Social Security, Medicare, and other safety-net policies. When her sister-in-law suffered a spinal cord injury, Campbell discovered first-hand how the limitations placed on recipients of means-tested health care thwart their financial well-being.
Story at the Washington Post "Wonkblog"  | Research story at MIT News


Handel's Detective | Ellen Harris
"I was doing research on Handel’s will, and I realized that we don’t know who these people were to whom he had left monetary gifts. And I really thought that after 300 years we should find out who these people were. That turned into something enormously exciting. I began to feel like a detective."
Story at The Boston Globe | Interview at BBC 

Ellen Harris, Professor of Music Emeritus; Andrea Campbell; Professor of Political Science;
Keeril Makan, Associate Professor of Music

What Ivy League ties to slavery teach about absolution
"According to MIT historian Craig Steven Wilder’s recent book Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities, many colleges and universities have historical entanglements that are likely to threaten the self-image of its students, alumni, faculty, and staff."
Story | Wilder webpage

How to arrive at the best health care policies | Amy Finkelstein
Collecting data that can trump a powerful anecdote is the value of the randomized controlled trial, says Amy Finkelstein, an MIT professor and a leader of the Oregon study. Finkelstein is helping researchers find rigorous ways to evaluate new approaches to the health delivery system.
Story at the New York Times | Finkelstein webpage

The devalued American worker | David Autor
In 1979, middle-skill jobs accounted for 57 percent of the jobs in the U.S. economy, according to calculations by David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By 2009, the share was down to 46 percent.
Story at the Washington Post | Autor webpage


Craig Steven Wilder, Professor of History, and Head, MIT History; Amy Finkelstein; Ford Professor of Economics; David Autor, Professor of Economics, and Associate Head, MIT Economics


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