Said and Done

May 2012 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences




Amy Finkelstein’s work “is centered on some of the most important and policy-relevant issues facing developed economies today."

— from the John Bates Clark Medal citation                                  



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, the MIT SHASS research helps alleviate poverty, safeguard elections, steer economies, understand the past and present, inform health policy, articulate morality, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Research Portfolio

Three MIT economists found research center to help create more equality in education
Joshua Angrist, David Autor, and Parag Pathak have founded the MIT School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII), which conducts research to help spread the lifelong benefits of education more equitably. 
Story | SEII

Economist Pathak engineers practical solutions to real-world education problems
Just a decade ago, selecting the desired public school in Boston and NYC was often an intractable problem, because systems required anticipating the choices others would make. Many students and families were frustrated and disappointed. MIT Economist Parag Pathak has helped to change that.     

Parag Pathak, MIT Associate Professor of Economics 


Historian Hanna Rose Shell | The invention of camouflage
Historian of technology’s new book traces the invention, evolution, and significance of camouflage.   

Political Scientist Andrea Campbell | The relationship of public opinion and public policy 
Campbell's research (in taxation, Social Security, and health insurance) uses a historical lens and focuses on the interplay of public opinion and key government policies that touch the lives of all Americans.  
Research Profile  |  Video: Meet Andrea Campbell

Economist Robert Townsend | The impact of credit in emerging economies
When Thailand’s government started offering microfinance loans to villagers, did anyone benefit? MIT economist Robert Townsend investigates the issue of access to credit in emerging economies.


L: camouflage image, from the collection of Abbott Handerson Thayer; Andrea Campbell, Associate Professor of Political Science; rice fields in Thailand

Economist Amy Finkelstein | Unraveling a trillion-dollar health care mystery
What really happens when you change the healthcare system? Finkelstein decided to find out.

Historian David Mindell | Technology and Warfare
How does new weaponry change the role and ethos of the solider? How do military leaders expect technology to settle battles? A new edition of Iron Coffin: War, Technology, and Experience aboard the U.S.S. Monitor has relevance for today's realities. 


L and R: from "The Monitor and Merrimac: The First Fight Between Ironclads," chromolithograph produced by Louis Prang & Co.; Center: David Mindell, Frances and David Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing 



Economist Amy Finkelstein wins John Bates Clark Medal 

A leader in studying health insurance markets, Finkelstein was named winner of the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal, given by the American Economic Association. AEA noted that Finkelstein’s work “is centered on some of the most important and policy-relevant issues facing developed economies today,” adding that her research stands “as a model of how theory and empirics can be combined in creative ways in order to yield credible, novel, and often unexpected insights into economic questions that will inform policy design."



L and R: The John Bates Clark Medal; Center: Amy Finkelstein, Professor of Economics 


Economist Robert Townsend elected to National Academy of Sciences
In addition, three other MIT professors were elected, bringing to 78 the number of Institute faculty who are NAS members.  
Story | National Academy of Sciences

Theater artist Jay Scheib wins 2012 OBIE Best Director Award 
Scheib received the OBIE, off-Broadway's highest honor, for direction of his recent play, "World of Wires." 


Historian/Physicist David Kaiser receives Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising 

"It is impossible to do justice to Dave’s generosity as a teacher and adviser...Perhaps the best of his many ways of teaching is by example."   


L to R: Robert Townsend, Killian Professor of Economics; Jay Scheib, Associate Professor of Theater Arts; David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science


Honoring President Susan Hockfield — and welcoming President-elect Rafael Reif
MIT SHASS joins with the whole MIT community in saluting President Hockfield's extraordinary administration and service — and celebrating the selection of L. Rafael Reif as MIT's 17th President.
Stories at MIT News 

News Clips | MIT SHASS in the National and International Media 
Current Clips

Conference on manufacturing focuses on conditions for sustained innovation 
“It’s very difficult to think about an innovation economy without manufacturing at the core of it,” said Daron Acemoglu, Killian Professor of Economics, whose work examines, among other things, the institutional conditions that encourage innovation.  

Theater artist Robert Lepage conducts spectacular campus residency at MIT
Robert Lepage brought his talent and unique multidisciplinary perspective to MIT during his residency. During his time on campus, he collaborated with MIT students, faculty and staff, participated in two public programs, and received the 2012 Eugene McDermott MIT Award in the Arts during a gala held in his honor. 
Story | Video from workshop with students

PEN New England/MIT SHASS host poet Gary Snyder for Thoreau Award
"[T]rees came to mind Tuesday night at MIT as I watched Gary Snyder, the great American poet, environmentalist, Zen Buddhist, and old traveling buddy of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, receive PEN New England’s Henry David Thoreau Prize [at MIT]. Spry, wry, and jovial at 81, his white-bearded face is still elfin, if craggy and a bit gnarled like a mountain or an ancient tree." 

L: Canadian theater artist Robert Lepage; R: Poet Gary Snyder 


Peter Diamond on reviving the U.S. economy: more finance for start ups
Diamond advises that by focusing too intently on those who have the capital to be job creators now, we miss all those who would become new job creators if they had access to investment capital. "Start-ups matter a lot," says Diamond, "so if you want to encourage dynamism in the economy it's more important to get money into their hands than to those who already have a lot of wealth.”
Story at The Washington Post

Meet the new 2012–13 Knight Science Journalism Fellows
Knight Science Journalism at MIT has selected twelve journalists from five countries for its 30th class of Fellows. The journalists will study science, health, environment and technology at MIT during the academic year 2012-13.  A warm welcome to all!    
Story | Meet the Knight Fellows 

MIT SHASS Writing and Communication Center marks 30 years
The Center has been MIT’s “one-stop shopping” for anyone associated with MIT who is interested in learning more about writing and oral presentations. Appointments are scheduled online by going to the Center’s website and clicking “Appointments.”
Story | Website


Think you're funny?  Prove it!  :-)
Apply for a grant from the De Florez Fund for Humor. That's right, at MIT you can be funded for being funny. Each year, the de Florez Fund supports projects that pass the hilarity test. Are you funny enough to meet the challenge?  
Full Story | Application




MIT Commencement 2012

MIT SHASS Reception to Celebrate our Graduates 
June 8, 2012, directly after Commencement

Photographs from the 2011 Reception to Celebrate SHASS Graduates | View Gallery



Video | Is there a future for the euro? 
Marco Mazzucchelli audits the conventional wisdom.

Film | "A masterpiece...about the meaning of family"
"In the Family" is the award-winning debut film by MIT alum, writer/director/actor Patrick Wang ('98).
Trailer and clips | Reviews 






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