Said and Done

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


"Humanity faces urgent challenges — challenges whose solutions depend on marrying advanced technical and scientific capabilities with a deep understanding of the world’s political, cultural, and economic complexities."

— L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT,
announcing the MIT Campaign for a Better World




3 Questions: David Autor on global trade and political polarization
Study finds relationship between U.S. job losses due to trade and political polarization in Congress. "In some sense," Autor says, "what we’re seeing now in the presidential primary isn’t as surprising in retrospect, because so much of it had already occurred, in congressional votes, along the economic fault lines of areas badly impacted by declining manufacturing.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News


Study shows digital devices in classrooms can lower exam scores
A study that pro­hib­ited com­puter devices in ran­domly selected class­rooms of an intro­duc­tory eco­nom­ics course at the US Military Academy found that average final exam scores among stu­dents assigned to class­rooms that allowed com­put­ers were 18% of a stan­dard devi­a­tion lower than exam scores of stu­dents in class­rooms that pro­hib­ited com­put­ers.

Reflections on advanced media representations | Fox Harrell
Harrell's research advances our understanding of the roles that virtual identities play in society and how to design them to better suit diverse social needs. “I’m interested in the ways virtual identities can be used to encourage social change," Harrell says. "Artful uses of technologies to imagine ourselves can be a powerful tool for social intervention.”
Podcast  |  Related story

Nutrition and migration | David Atkin
A study by David Atkin, Assistant Professor of Economics, reveals that migrants who cleave to their native cuisines often pay more to eat because they have moved to places where their familiar foods are more expensive. Poor migrants who are unable to spend more often reduce the amount of calories they consume. 
Story at MIT News by Peter Dizikes



MIT President L. Rafael Reif has announced the official launch of The MIT Campaign for a Better World, a fundraising initiative that will amplify the Institute's strengths in education, research, and innovation, and will advance MIT’s work on some of the world's biggest challenges. Emphasizing MIT's vision for sociotechnical problem-solving, the President said, "Humanity faces urgent challenges — challenges whose solutions depend on marrying advanced technical and scientific capabilities with a deep understanding of the world’s political, cultural, and economic complexities."

Story   |   Join Us  |   Meeting Great Challenges



Solving the economic, cultural, and political dimensions of major global issues
The Human Factor series from MIT SHASS highlights research and perspectives on the human dimensions of global challenges. Contributors describe humanities, arts, and social science research that generates social innovation, and share ideas for cultivating the sociotechnical collaborations needed to solve the major issues of our time.
Browse the Series

Susan Silbey: The role of human systems in solving environmental issues
"Transferring the models of physical matter or rational calculation to these massive global problems can do a great deal to help solve our current issues — but only when they are informed by a nuanced understanding of how humans and human organizations operate." Silbey is the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Sociology and Anthropology, and a Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences.
Interview with anthropologist Susan Silbey



Undergraduate Mathematical Economics major to debut in fall 2016
Driven by student demand and the blending of fields, new opportunities include management tracks and minors in computer science, data science, and innovation.


MIT adds Korean to language studies program
In response to a high level of interest, MIT GSL, under the direction of Professor Emma Teng, has launched an on-campus Korean language program, slated to begin in the fall of 2016. In addition, classes covering Korea in GSL include: Intro to East Asian Culture: Zen to K-Pop (AY2018), and Digital Media in Japan and Korea (spring 2017)."
MIT-Korea MISTI  | Story at The Tech  | Story in The Korea Times

Daniel Parker's path to Julliard, via MIT
Music major Daniel Parker '16 has been admitted to Julliard, where he will work toward his Master of Music in Piano. Speaking on behalf of the MIT Music faculty, Institute Professor Marcus Thompson said, “We have not in recent memory had a student cover so much important repertoire and scholarship, at such depth. Daniel’s public profile as a pianist in prodigious recitals is by itself enough to astonish.”
Story by Sharon Lacey


Eran Egozy | MIT Professor of the Practice in Music Technology
MIT alumnus Eran Egozy who co-founded Harmonix Music Systems and launched the hugely successful video games "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band," is back on campus teaching 21M.385/6.809, Interactive Music Systems, an upper-level undergraduate course that enables MIT students to explore audio synthesis, musical structure, and human-computer interaction.


“Technology and humanity are now deeply interlinked. It’s important for people graduating with a technical or scientific degree to be immersed in the arts because it’s so much more relevant to today’s products and innovations.”

— Eran Egozy, MIT Professor of the Practice in Music Technology; engineer, musician, and new media pioneer



Andrea Campbell elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications, as well as studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.

Political scientist Taylor Fravel awarded Carnegie fellowship
Fravel, who will extend his studies of Asia’s ongoing maritime disputes, said he was “thrilled, humbled, and honored” to receive the fellowship. The prestigious award supports “research and writing aimed at addressing some of the world’s most urgent challenges to U.S. democracy and international order,” and focuses on scholars in the social sciences and humanities.

Regina Bateson wins 2016 Outstanding UROP Faculty Mentor Award
MIT political scientist Regina Bateson received the Institute-wide award for the high quality of her mentorship, supervision, and support; her availability to students; her guidance in research; and for her overall commitment to undergraduate research.

L to R: Regina Bateson, Assistant Professor of Political Science; Andrea Campbell, Department Head, and Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science; Professor of Political Science; Taylor Fravel, Associate Professor of Political Science




The art of sociotechnical collaboration
Over the course of 26 years at MIT, political scientist Kenneth Oye has discovered that collaborating with technologists is a very effective way to influence policy on the issues he cares most about — from climate change to synthetic biology. Oye, who has a joint appointment, in the Department of Poltiical Science and the Engineering Systems Division, is an adept in the art of collaborative, sociotechnical problem-solving. People who have such skill and experience are increasingly important, because as President Reif has said, "Humanity faces urgent challenges whose solutions depend on marrying advanced technical and scientific capabilities with a deep understanding of the world’s political, cultural, and economic complexities."


Ken Oye, Associate professor of Political Science, former Head, Center for International Studies, and core faculty member, MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society



Adam Berinsky wins 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship

Berinsky, MIT SHASS Professor of Political Science, has been awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, a mid-career award that recognizes scholars and artists for their exceptional work.

Elena Ruehr receives Discovery Grant from Opera America
Composer Ruehr, who is is known for her bold lyricism, received the grant for "Crafting the Bonds," an opera spanning three centuries, which is based on the rediscovery of The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, the first known novel by an African-American woman.

Thomas Levenson wins 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship
Levenson, MIT SHASS Professor of Science Writing and Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing, has been awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, a mid-career award that recognizes scholars and artists for their exceptional work.

L to R: Adam Berinsky, Professor of Political Science; Elena Ruehr, Lecturer in Music; Tom Levenson, Professor of Science Writing, and Head, Graduate Program in Science Writing


Dean Nobles announces the 2016 Levitan Teaching Awards
Nobles has announced the recipients of the 2016 James A. and Ruth Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Congratulations to nine educators and colleagues, who represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 
Gallery of Levitan Teaching Award Recipients

Knight Science Journalism Program selects fellowship class of 2016-17
Ten journalists have been selected to join the KSJ Program at MIT, a global fellowship program for journalists covering science, technology, health, and the environment.
Meet the new KSJ Fellows  |  Undark magazine

CMS/W announces winners of the 2016 Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes
Awards for Sci-Fi, poetry, short story, technical writing, visual arts, essay, and freshman writing

Anna Walsh receives the Donaldson Prize for Excellence in Literary Studies
The prize is awarded each spring to an MIT Literature major who excels academically and is an engaging participant in the literary community at MIT.

GSL announces winners of the 2016 Isabelle de Courtivron Prize
Pratyusha Kalluri and Aneesh Anand have received the 2016 prizes, awarded by MIT's Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies (CB/BS), which recognize “student writing on topics related to immigrant, diaspora, bicultural, bilingual, and/or multi-racial experiences.”

Pratyusha Kalluri (L) and Aneesh Anand (R) are the recipients of the 2016 Isabelle de Courtivron Prizes from MIT's Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, a program of Global Studies and Languages.



What if we just gave poor people a basic income for life?
"We’re planning to find out. To do so, we’re planning to provide at least 6,000 Kenyans with a basic income for 10 to 15 years...And we’re going to work with leading academic researchers, including Abhijit Banerjee of MIT, to rigorously test the impacts.”
Story at Slate

A nation engaged: trade stirs up sharp debate in this election cycle | David Autor
How does international trade affect people’s long-term outlook? "If I lose my job at a furniture factory where I've worked for decades,” MIT economist David Autor explains, "no amount of cheaper toys and raincoats at Wal-Mart is going to make me whole again.”
Story at NPR

Where jobs are squeezed by trade, voters seek extremes | David Autor
MIT economist David author explains the political reverberations of trade shocks in this New York Times article. “There are these concentrated pockets of hurt,” Autor said, “and we’re seeing the political consequences of that.”
Story at New York Times

Profile | Makan makes Ingmar Bergman’s "Persona" sing
MIT-SHASS Associate Professor of Music Keeril Makan is profiled in the Boston Globe for his operatic adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s classic film, "Persona," which premiered in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Story at The Boston Globe

Review | Makan's new chamber opera is "enthralling"
"How vast is the space between the self and its image?...Vast enough for...Keeril Makan’s enthralling new chamber opera, based on the iconic film by Ingmar Bergman. Music by MIT Associate Professor of Music Keeril Makan; libretto by MIT Professor of Theater Jay Scheib after the Bergman film; music performed by the Either/Or ensemble, directed by MIT Professor of Music Evan Ziporyn.
Review at The Boston Globe

Scene from "Persona: the Opera," performance at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; photocredit, Ben Stas, The Boston Globe


Why warring factions target hospitals | Fotini Christia
This op/ed on the recent military attacks on hospitals in Syria cites MIT political scientist Fotini Christia, who explains that such attacks are intended to weaken the dedication of opposition forces.
Story at Reuters

How technology can impact human connection | Sherry Turkle
“It’s when people are vulnerable and hesitate that they often reveal the truer parts of themselves,” says Turkle, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology. "What has been most striking is how difficult it is for us to give each other full attention when we have our devices.”
Story at the Huffington Post

What children learned from the shared family phone | Sherry Turkle
With landlines now fading, there are fewer opportunities for children to learn phone manners, sharing, and other grown-up skills from using the family phone. Turkle recommends that parents start using the speaker function on their cellphones when children are small, so they can learn by listening.
Story at the Wall Street Journal



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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 May 11, 2016



About the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

MIT champions the power of STEM + SHASS for research and for educating great engineers, scientists, scholars, and citizens.

Meeting great challenges Generating solutions for the great challenges of our age requires both advanced technical and scientific knowledge and a deep understanding of the world's human complexities. MIT-SHASS researches and advances the cultural, political, and economic dimensions of innovation — the broad range of human realities, from deeply-felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions, in which science and technology issues are embedded. 

Excellence — In 2015, MIT's Social Science disciplines were ranked first in the world, and MIT's Humanities and Arts disciplines were ranked among the top three worldwide.

Research with a global impact — The MIT-SHASS research portfolio is vast, including anthropology, comparative media studies, economics, history, international studies, languages, linguistics, literature, music and theater arts, political science, philosophy, security studies, and writing, including science writing.

Education that empowers — The School teaches every MIT undergraduate, empowering students with cultural and historical perspectives, and critical thinking and communication skills — to help them serve the world wisely and well.  The School's seven graduate programs are all recognized as among the finest in the world.

Cultivating leaders — SHASS has a central role in international education at MIT, and in preparing students for leadership at home and on international teams. Through all their SHASS coursework, and in MISTI, the School's pioneering applied international education program, MIT students learn how to work, collaborate, and thrive in cultures around the globe.