SEPTEMBER 2022 DIGEST
MIT SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES, ARTS, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
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NEW WORKS + REVIEWS
Katerina Cizek and Thomas Allen Harris, with cover of Collective Wisdom (forthcoming, MIT Press, 2022)
Co-Creation As a Democratic Act | Katerina Cizek and Thomas Allen Harris
The practice of co-creation "is at the core of a new way of engaging with media, with technology, with democracy and with the way that we want to organize ourselves into the 21st century," says Katerina Cizek, director of the Co-Creation Studio (a program of the MIT CMS-based OpenDocLab). She and Thomas A. Harris, one of the co-authors of Collective Wisdom (MIT Press, 2022), talk with Documentary Magazine about the practice of co-creation and its value for community empowerment as they prepare for the launch of the new book.
Interview | Collective Wisdom (MIT Press) | Katerina Cizek | Thomas A. Harris | Willima Uricchio
A review of Life Is Hard by Kieran Setiya
“Through carefully crafted examples, [Kieran Setiya] makes the case that philosophy can help us navigate the adversities of human life,” writes Anil Gomes of Professor Setiya's latest book, Life Is Hard.
Review at The Guardian
MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW
Bolstering innovation in the heart of America | Sam Ford SM'07
CMS alum Sam Ford reflects on American innovation and who is at risk of feeling left behind in the process in this profile for MIT Technology Reivew: "It’s hard to be excited about the future of work if you are afraid you are not in it.”
Story at MIT Technology Review
You need to solve Puerto Rico’s debt crisis in this new board game | Mikael Jakobsson
Jakobsson's idea was to show that the island’s debt can’t fully be paid off. But it took several years of research for him and Aziria Rodríguez Arce, an MIT graduate student and consultant on the project, to reflect that nuance in the aims, rules, and construct of a board game.
Story at Popular Science
How achievements took over the video game industry | Mikael Jakobsson
When game designers build in too much “optional unfinishedness” to support extended replays, they make it hard to completely finish a game, as Jakobsson notes.
Story at Fast Company
Power inverters and cabling outside the world's largest battery energy storage system; photo via Getty Images
How California kept the lights on during monster heat wave | Anna Blaustein SM'21
Blaustein writes, "When the temperature soars, so does the use of air conditioners—and demand for the electricity that powers them. Unusually high electricity use can strain power grids, sometimes forcing grid operators to implement rolling blackouts to avoid a system-wide collapse."
Story at Scientific American
The Green Dream to Rebuild a Sustainable Ukraine | Sebastien Malo
Malo, MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow, writes, "A recently unveiled governmental reconstruction vision conceives a country rising from its ashes and transitioning to a green economy. It marks what some experts consider the world’s first attempt at a low-carbon reconstruction. There is much to repair."
Story at Politico
Why Kiwi Farms was Cloudflare's most dangerous customer | Ashley Belanger SM'20
Belanger talks with Cloudflare about its decision to remove the aggressive doxxing and swatting site Kiwi Farms after massive outcries.
Story at Ars Technica
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Did My Cat Just Hit On Me? An Adventure in Pet Translation | Emily Anthes SM'06
Entrepreneurs are aiming to put A.I.-powered pet translation tools into our pockets. Of using a cat translation app to try to talk to her cat, Anthes says, "It went about how you might expect."
Commentary at the New York Times | Anthes on Twitter
Your Biggest Questions About Kids and Phones, Answered | Katharine Gammon SM'07
Gammon digs into the science of phones' effects on young users, interviewing experts across the field.
Story at TIME
How to Protect Puerto Rico’s Power Grid from Hurricanes | Anna Blaustein SM'21
Blaustein writes, "Energy experts say localized solar plants could strengthen Puerto Rico’s dangerously fragile grid."
Story at Scientific American
THE GOOD LIFE
MAKING SENSE PODCAST
Philosophy and the Good Life | Conversation with Kieran Setiya
Sam Harris speaks with MIT philosopher Kieran Setiya about the relevance of philosophy to living a good life. They discuss the existence of objective moral truths, being happy vs living well, our response to grief, the power of reframing, the asymmetry between pain and pleasure, and other topics.
Listen on Making Sense
Illustration via the National Science Foundation
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
The bubble-bursting awesomeness of randomized controlled trials | Esther Duflo
"The RCT allows you to train your light wherever you want it trained," says Esther Duflo, one of the economics researchers who first used randomized controlled trials in social experiments. Her research illuminated the real-world effects of micro-loans and other strategies intended to alleviate poverty. Duflo and her colleagues Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer were awarded the 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their pioneering work studying causes and effects related to poverty and education, and in the process forging an indispensable tool for social science research.
Story from the National Science Foundation
THE WASHINGTON POST
Will remote work make it easier to ship white-collar jobs overseas? | David Autor
“French and Singaporean workers will benefit more from remote access to U.S. jobs than will U.S. workers to remote access to jobs in Europe or Asia.”
Story at The Washington Post
Why economists are flocking to Silicon Valley | Jaume Vives i Bastida, PhD candidate
The Facebook/Meta prize, which this year comes with up to two years’ worth of university tuition and a $42,000 stipend, has gone to computer scientists, engineers, physicists and statisticians. Now it has gone to an economist. “I was not expecting it...I would like to be a professor, I would like to do research for a living,” says Mr. Vives.
Story at The Economist
Jon Gruber on Boston Public Radio
Gruber explained the economic impacts of the growing labor movement. He was instrumental in creating both the Massachusetts health-care reform and the Affordable Care Act. His latest book is Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream.
Conversation at WGBH
Covid caused huge shortages in US labor market, study shows | Evan Soltas
“Our estimates suggest Covid-19 illnesses have reduced the US labor force by approximately 500,000 people,” say the study’s authors, Soltas and Gopi Shah Goda of Stanford University.
Story at The Guardian
Christopher Capozzola, Professor of History, Senior Associate Dean for Open Learning; photo by Allegra Boverman/MIT SHASS Communications
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Espionage Act’s Origins | Christopher Capozzola
Historian Capozzola, Senior Associate Dean for Open Learning and an expert on citizenship and the military in modern America, discusses the 1917 law's WWI-era origins and how it has been changed and used variously over time.
Story and Podcast
Has democracy worked? | Evan Lieberman
It’s been nearly thirty years since the fall of apartheid in South Africa. But what happens when the celebrations cease, the news cameras turn away, and the real work of democracy begins? MIT political scientist Evan Lieberman joins Voice of America’s “Straight Africa Talk” host, Haydé Adams, to discuss the lingering “ghost of apartheid,” South Africa's path to political and economic equality, and why South Africa's electoral future gives him hope.
Podcast at World Affairs
Republican war on elections makes casualties of civilian stewards of democracy | Charles Stewart III
Stewart talks with Rachel Maddow about the damage being done to the U.S. democratic process by Republicans pushing Donald Trump's Big Lie and targeting election workers in the process.
Conversation at MSNBC
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Stock trades by nearly 1/5 of Congress show possible conflicts | Charles Stewart III
New York Times reporters matched those potential conflicts with data on committee assignments, provided by the ProPublica Congress API, Congressional Quarterly and Stewart to find examples of trades that overlapped with the member’s committee tenure.
Story at The New York Times
THE WORLD STAGE
Here & Now: Protests in Iran | Jim Walsh
Walsh, MIT senior research associate in the MIT Security Studies Program, discusses ongoing protests in the country over the death of a woman held in police custody for not wearing a headscarf. "I think the protests reflect real grievances by different parts of society.”
Conversation at NPR
China’s median line violations suggest Taiwan "decapitation" rehearsal | M. Taylor Fravel
"This is a way of basically increasing the daily military pressure on Taiwan,” said Fravel. “It’s hard to distinguish if an airplane crossing the median line is going to be launching missiles against Taipei, or if it’s going to turn around and go back.”
Story at Politico
The nuclear plant in the eye of the war in Ukraine | Kate Brown
Brown comments, "The basins of spent fuel are just big pools with uranium fuel rods in them — they are really hot depending on how long they have been there. If fresh water is not put in then the water will evaporate. Once the water evaporates then the zirconium cladding will heat up and it can catch fire and then we have a bad situation."
Story at Reuters
Military drills further strain Japan-Russia relations | Mina Pollmann
Pollmann, an MIT PhD candidate, writes that "Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has seriously damaged Russia-Japan relations as tensions between Russia and the G-7 countries — including Japan — have spilled over into the bilateral relationship."
Story at The Diplomat
Jim Walsh on What's Changed Since 9/11
Walsh reflects, "Al-Qaeda lost. It suffered debilitating defeats. Now its progeny live on."
Commentary at WGBH
John Tirman (1950-2022), was a political strategist, author, and principal researcher/executive director for the MIT Center for International Studies. Photo by Allegra Boverman
EURO WEEKLY NEWS
MIT CIS Executive Director John Tirman dies, age 72
"John Tirman died August 19 after suffering cardiac arrest. His death was announced by the MIT Centre for International Studies, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA)... People paid tribute to the research scientist following the announcement. Stephan Walt wrote: 'Shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of MIT’s John Tirman. His book The Deaths of Others is a classic and he was a deeply principled scholar I admired greatly.' Huss Banai wrote: 'I lost a dear friend, mentor, and colleague—and all of us have lost a caring force for good in the world.'"
In Memoriam at MIT News | Tributes | Books by John Tirman | Other Publications
In Memoriam | John Tirman (1949-2022)
"Tirman centered his critical eye, research, writing on examining our own government's misdeeds around the world, especially its militarism and weapons-trade; through his work he relentlessly pursued reforms of U.S. foreign policy. Dawn is proud to have had John Tirman among the first scholars to join as a Non-Resident Fellow, among the first contributors to Dawn Journal, and grateful for the opportunity to partner with him and the MIT Center for International Studies on several ambitious projects. He will be sorely missed."
Post + Commentary in Dawn Journal
Richard S. Eckaus, Ford International Professor of Economics, emeritus
Professor Emeritus Dick Eckaus, who specialized in development economics, dies at 96
Eckaus, a deeply respected advisor, educator, and mentor, was a founding member of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and committed to helping others rise out of poverty. “He was both an outstanding scholar and someone who had the modesty and generosity to make younger scholars feel valued and heard,” remarks longtime colleague and Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Political scientist Howard Rosenthal '60, '64, dies at 84
Professor Rosenthal, whose pioneering research confirmed quantitatively that Congress is more politically polarized than at any point since Reconstruction, died on July 28 at his home in San Francisco. He received the SB in Economics, Politics, and Science in 1960, and a PhD in Political Science in 1964. In 2007, Rosenthal and Professor Keith T. Poole, produced an updated version of their 1997 book, which had predicted "a polarized unidimensional Congress with roll-call voting falling almost exclusively along liberal-conservative ideological lines." "We were right," the authors concluded. "This makes us feel good as scientists, but lousy as citizens."
Story at The New York Times
HONORS, AWARDS, AND APPOINTMENTS
Professor Michel DeGraff
Michel DeGraff named Fellow of the Linguistics Society of America
Professor Michel DeGraff of MIT Linguistics has been elected as a Fellow of the Linguistics Society of America (LSA), the highest academic honor within the field of linguistics, in recognition of his dynamic and impactful scholarship in Creole studies with a focus on Haitian Creole (or “Kreyòl,” as it’s called in Haiti). DeGraff’s scholarship into the history and linguistics of Haitian Creole goes hand-in-hand with his longstanding activism for full recognition of Kreyòl as a perfectly normal language in all sectors of Haitian society, especially in education.
Story at MIT SHASS
Christine J. Walley honored by GAD New Directions Awards
Walley directs the Southeast Chicago Archive and Storytelling Project (SECASP) (sechicagohistory.org), an online collaborative venture, which recieved honorable mention from the GAD New Directions Awards. "The GAD Awards Committee acknowledges the creativity, innovation, and broad dissemination of anthropological insights of SECASP, a collaborative digital project that exposes the public to the history and material culture of Chicago’s ethnically diverse working-class neighborhoods."
All winners and award details
Bernardo Zacka & Jasmine English win the 2022 Kendra Koivu Award
Professor Zacka & PhD candidate Jasmine English were recognized with the award from The American Political Science Association (APSA) for their paper: “The Politics of Sight: Revisiting Timothy Pachirat’s Every Twelve Seconds.”
Paper at APSR
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