Said and Done

January 2016 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences



“Poems teach our students how to dwell, with concentrated attention. Dwelling with concentration is a skill — one that has to be taught, and one that students don’t necessarily develop elsewhere in their lives, especially these days.”

— Stephen Tapscott, MIT Professor of Literature


The Well-Versed Institute: discover poetic MIT

“I would be a tolerable Mathematician,” wrote the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1796. More than two centuries later, MIT students are proving that mathematicians — not to mention engineers, programmers, physicists, economists, architects, and biologists — make more than tolerable poets as well.

Story | Pleasures of Poetry series celebrates 20th anniversary in 2016



MIT-SHASS Research Fund recipients announced for 2016
The MIT-SHASS Research Fund supports humanities, arts, and social science research that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. The School is pleased to announce ten recipients for 2016. 

Life in the aftermath: Recovering Armenia | Lerna Ekmekcioglu
Ekmekcioglu's new book explores life for Armenians in modern Turkey and illuminates the central role of women in sustaining Armenian culture. Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey is the first in-depth history of the Armenians who stayed in Turkey in the immediate aftermath of World War I.
Story at MIT News | Related: MISTI launches Armenia pilot program

Mapping the history of U.S. state politics | Christopher Warshaw and Devin Caughey
This unique study, which shows the political orientation of all 50 U.S. states over time, reveals at least two major trends: First, state-level policies throughout the U.S. as a whole became more liberal from the 1930s into the 1970s, an era of increasing civil rights and the development of a social safety net. Second, when measured by state-level policy, the political divergence among regions of the U.S. became much more pronounced during the last 20 years.

Roots of the Ukraine Crisis | Elizabeth Wood
In February 2014, Russian troops rolled into Crimea, the garden spot of Ukraine, and seized control. In a new book, MIT Professor Elizabeth A. Wood teams with three colleagues to provide in-depth analysis and perspective on why Russia annexed this peninsula, plumbing history to understand Russia’s recent posture on the world stage.

3 Questions: David Singer on China and the renminbi
Singer, an associate professor of political science at MIT and a leading expert on currency politics, explains the economic and political implications of China’s new currency status.


A sampler of MIT research on justice, inclusion, civil and human rights
Ongoing faculty and student work on issues of governance, citizenship, restorative justice, inclusion, refugees, race, class, and immigration, and the human costs of war.  
See sampler

M. Taylor Fravel advises U.S. government officials on South China Sea disputes
Fravel, an associate professor of political science, began studying China’s South China Sea policy more than a decade ago, long before China began turning rocks and reefs into islands with airfields. The Spratly Islands, and their valuable mineral, fishing, and shipping route rights, are now claimed by China and also by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. Fravel, who advises U.S. government officials on the matter, calls the Spratly Islands conflict "the world's most complicated territorial dispute."
Learn more

U.S. security issues for 2016 | Jim Walsh
MIT security analyst Jim Walsh recently testified on security issues in Congress and serves as a regular commentator for the "Here and Now" radio program. On this episode, he considers current security issues for the U.S. at home and abroad. 

Mexico past and present | Tanalís Padilla
“If you look at the historiography of Mexico now, no one would say the 20th century was stable,” says Tanalís Padilla. Her research on Mexican political history has helped create this transformation in perceptions of 20th-century Mexico, and made her a significant voice in her field. Padilla recently joined MIT as an associate professor of history.

Associate professor of history Tanalís Padilla; photo by Bryce Vickmark



35 Burchard Scholars announced for 2016
The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. “The Burchard scholars are some of MIT’s liveliest undergraduates,” says Margery Resnick, professor of literature and director of the Burchard Scholars Program. “Selection is extremely competitive, and the students chosen are unafraid to wrestle with new ideas.”

Zapping your brain: Why do it? Should it be regulated? | PhD student Anna Wexler
Interest is growing in brain stimulation devices — and regulating them may prove tricky. Wexler's research into the matter is the “best encapsulation of the near-history of this phenomenon,” says Peter Reiner, a professor of psychiatry and expert in neuroethics at the University of British Columbia. Wexler was one of the experts asked to speak at an FDA panel held on the topic in November.
Story at MIT News

MISTI Infographic | A fresh look at MIT International Science & Technology Initiatives
MISTI, the SHASS-based international education program, creates hands-on learning experiences for MIT students, enables collaborations between MIT faculty members and their counterparts abroad, and advances MIT's outreach efforts through partnerships with foreign companies, universities and research institutions. This great infographic gives a fresh look at MIT's flagship international education program. 
Open MISTI Infographic  |  MISTI website




Insights on citizen participation in authoritarian countries | Leah Rosenzweig
PhD student Leah Rosenzweig's electoral insights shed light on reasons for citizen participation in authoritarian and transitional countries in Sub-Sahara Africa. Of MIT Political Science  she says “The professors here are very approachable and great mentors. My advisor, Professor Lily Tsai, who directs the GOV/LAB, is incredibly supportive and sets an example of working hard on important problems that directly affect peoples’ lives.”
Story by Peter Dunn

Alyssa Napier '16 is dedicated to chemistry, linguistics, and social justice
Napier’s faculty advisor, Alice Ting, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor in the Department of Chemistry, notes the value of Napier's combined academic study: "Through her ability to solve problems like a linguist and a writer, Alyssa is able to think of new ways to solve problems as a chemist. Her mind is constantly challenged in different ways — whether learning a language, writing creatively, or solving an organic synthesis problem.”

Joseff Kolman | An MIT undergrad at the Paris climate talks
A junior majoring in both political science and physics, Kolman is deeply engaged in climate change policy, and was among the MIT undergraduates who attended the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris. He is also a euphonium player and Vice president of the MIT Wind Ensemble.

Political Science and Physics major Joseff Kolman; photo by Susan Young


Yiqing Xu builds analytical tools to improve understanding of China's political economy
PhD student Xu applies new methodology for better insight into the Chinese political economy. It became clear to Xu that politics plays an increasingly important role in determining China’s course, in both economics and social and political development. This led him to pursue a doctorate in political science at MIT. His research has included an extensive experimental study that involved sending letters to local officials in 2,000 Chinese counties.

MIT-France | Bolstering connections between MIT and the world
Since its launch in 2001, the MIT-France Program has matched over 840 MIT students with hands-on, real-world work experiences at French companies and labs from Paris to Lyon to Marseille. Suzanne Berger, the Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, who served as MISTI’s founding director and, until last summer, the faculty director of MIT-France, describes how the program developed.
Story | MIT-France Program


L to R: Roots of Russia's War in Ukraine, Elizabeth Wood, with William Pomeranz, Wayne Merry, and Maxim Trudolyubov (Woodrow Wilson Center Press with Columbia University Press, 2015); Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey, Lerna Ekekcioglu (Stanford University Press, 2015); Musical Institute of Technology (SHASS Communications, 2015)



SHASS In the Media | January 2016
For more of the many recent media stories about SHASS research and faculty, visit the complete
In the Media section

How Economics and Race Drive America's Great Divide | Peter Temin
The Huffington Post reports on a new paper by MIT economist and historian Peter Temin, who argues that "America has now diverged into a top thirty percent, where children receive excellent educations and grow up to work in sectors like finance, technology and electronics industries" and "the rest...whose kids have little hope of joining the lucky ones at the top." Temin explains what drives this "dual economy," what race has to do with it, how children are hurt, and why our political system is challenged to create remedies. 
Story at Huffington Post

MIT celebrates Gunther Schuller
A concert organized by MIT conductor, and Schuller student, Frederick Harris Jr., celebrated Schuller, who died in June 2015. The concert event came complete some of Schuller’s tools and talismans: scores, a flamboyant sport coat, and Schuller’s own French horn.

The Accidental Universe | Alan Lightman
At Time Magazine, Shane Parrish reviews The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew, a collection of essays (Knopf/DoubleDay, 2014), by MIT’s Lightman, professor of the practice of the Humanities. The theoretical physicist and author of Einstein's Dreams offers a soulful contemplation of science, the cosmos, belief, and knowledge. 
Review at Time Magazine

A Star-Crossed 'Scientific Fact' | Thomas Levenson
MIT professor of science writing Thomas Levenson speaks to Michel Martin on NPR’s "All Things Considered" about his new book, The Hunt for Vulcan. "The blind alleys are most of what science actually does,” Levenson says.
Story at NPR


Portal to all MIT OpenCourseWare materials on the environment
Like so many of the challenges tackled by MIT, solutions to the world's environmental issues will come from multidisciplinary, socio-technical perspectives. The environmental courses on MIT OCW represent a broad spectrum of research and teaching, from engineering to urban planning to politicial science, history, writing, anthropology, and economics. Many tools needed to solve the world’s environmental issues can be found in these free course materials. MIT-SHASS courses are listed in the "Culture and Society" section.
MIT OCW courses on the Environment | Culture and Society section



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Said and Done is published by the Office of the Dean,
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Editor and Designer: Emily Hiestand, Director, SHASS Communications
Publication Associate: Daniel Pritchard, SHASS Communications

Published January 14, 2016