SUMMER 2022 DIGEST
MIT SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES, ARTS, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
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A LIVABLE FUTURE
Photo via Unsplash
Home ownership and electric cars | Alan Morseman SM'08/Science Writing
Another potential divide between homeowners and renters: Easy access to electric car chargers. For those who can charge an EV at home, living with an electric car is arguably easier than the old ways of filling up with gas. For everyone else, maybe not.
Article at Inverse | Alan Morseman/@Agmoseman
Rewilding cities | Clive Thompson, MIT KSJ Fellow '02
Thompson writes, "We’ve monocropped streets — so they’re used almost exclusively for cars. Time to rewild."
Story at Medium | Clive Thompson
Before-and-after images of a Utrecht highway turned canal; graphic via Bouwput Utrecht
Graphic via The Ringer
“Rappers don’t fall off” | Lupe Fiasco, MLK Visiting Scholar 2022-23
Incoming Visiting Scholar Wasalu "Lupe Fiasco" Jaco speaks on aging in hip-hop, drill music, and the audience, as well as his return to teaching at MIT.
Story at The Ringer | Related: Announcing MIT's visiting MLK scholars | Lupe Fiasco
THE BOSTON GLOBE
Vape wars: debate over banning (and unbanning) of e-cigs | Seth Mnookin
For The Boston Globe, Mnookin writes "Why aren’t more people speaking out about the potential of e-cigarettes to help current smokers? One possible answer lies in the political clout of the communities most affected. Cigarette smokers are, on the whole, poorer, more likely to have mental health issues, and more likely to come from marginalized groups than nonsmokers."
Story at The Boston Globe
On leaving room for unstructured moments | Alan Lightman
"Lightman is no hippy, he is a theoretical physicist who teaches humanities at MIT. Alan is known for his books and novels that explore science and philosophy and our place in the universe.”
Conversation at NPR | Alan Lightman
Big Tech just got closer to squashing key US antitrust bill | Ashley Belanger SM'20
Belanger, an alum of the MIT Program in Science Writing, and a 2020-21 Fellow of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, reports that a major antitrust bill "will remain 'in limbo' as Congress has failed to schedule a vote before its recess. This could signify that Big Tech companies will prevail—through intense lobbying and criticism—and prevent the bill from passing a Senate floor vote."
Story at Ars Technica | Ashley Belanger
NEW BOOKS AND REVIEWS
Une fille indocile (A Rebellious Girl) | Isabelle de Courtivron
In this story, emeritus MIT professor Courtivron evokes the feminist emancipation endeavors in which she took part in the 1960s and 1970s U.S. — the liberation of the female body, gender equality, the refusal of motherhood — and its key figures. De Courtivron's perspective enables readers to understand this era of an ongoing social movement from the inside.
About the book | de Courtivron's MIT webpage | MIT Global Languages
NPR | WBEZ CHICAGO
When the News Broke | Heather Hendershot
How did the 1968 Democratic National Convention change the relationship between media and politics? MIT CMS/W media historian Heather Hendershot, author of When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America, talks with NPR WBEZ Chicago about the significance of the chaotic 1968 convention.
Audio Commentary | Follow Heather Hendershot
MAKING A JUST SOCIETY
A community fridge in Tulsa, OK; photo via the AP
Community fridges stay plugged in as food costs soar | Katharine Gammon SM'07
CMS/W alum Gammon writes for TIME about "how community fridges have become vital infrastructure in cities — and not just for the pandemic."
Story at TIME | Katharine Gammon
In economics, grade restrictions weed out students of color | Ashley Smart
Smart, associate director of the MIT Knight Science Journalism program, and a senior editor of KSJ's Undark magazine, reports that GPA requirements push Black and Hispanic students out of STEM majors — and may widen the wage gap later on.
Story at Salon | Ashley Smart
EDUCATION & THE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY
Photo via Unsplash
THE WASHINGTON POST
There’s no teacher shortage; they've been driven out of schools | Elizabeth Boyle cited
“As the gender ratios of teachers changed, so did the pay and the social prestige associated with teaching,” Boyle wrote in an essay for the Women and Gender Studies Program at MIT in 2004.
Story at The Washington Post
THE WASHINGTON POST
The hit comedy Abbot Elementary is really a tragedy | Justin Reich cited
Reich, an associate professor of digital media at MIT and director of the Teaching Systems Lab, wrote in 2021: “Evangelists for education technology tend to describe their inventions as akin to Swiss army knives, capable of serving numerous functions and solving myriad problems. But, in truth, they more closely resemble a scattered pile of mismatched tools. Many are useful for specific tasks, but the whole collection adds up to less than the sum of its parts.”
Story at The Washington Post | Justin Reich
Seven ways the war in Ukraine is changing global science | Loren Graham
“People have been so disgusted by Russia’s actions that the normal slogans of science being international, and of researchers cooperating under all circumstances, have worn thin,” says Graham, MIT Professor of the History of Science Emeritus, who has been in contact with Russian researchers. “The morale of Russian intelligentsia is very low,” he adds.
Story at Nature | Loren Graham
A dogma of biology collapses | Valeria Román, KSJ fellow 2005
Animals were believed to help plants reproduce only in terrestrial environments, but a new investigation discovered a similar process: a crustacean facilitates the reproduction of red algae, Román reports.
Story at Infobae | Valeria Román
Graphic via Unsplash
Will housing market downturn be as devastating as 2008 crash? | William Wheaton
Wheaton, MIT Professor of Economics Emeritus, stated that a market drop now would not be anything like 2008. "I think it will simply slow down in appreciation and prices might flatten out, but I don't really see anything like 2008 happening," he said. "There's no real crisis. It's just, credit is more expensive. Of course, it was really, really cheap for the last three years, unusually cheap."
Story at Newsweek | William Wheaton
Recession? The major fear is spreading fear itself | Peter Diamond cited
Diamond, Institute Professor and Professor of Economics Emeritus, received the Nobel Prize for clarifying that there are many levels of employment at which supply equals demand, including many that are very low. Diamond’s example: workers need to search for employers and employers need to search for workers. If neither party thinks the other is searching, each will sit on their hands, meaning too few people will be hired and too little will be produced.
Story at Forbes | Peter Diamond
Affordable Care Act subsidies | Jonathan Gruber
Gruber, Ford Professor of Economics and an architect of the Affordable Care Act, discusses ACA funding on Bloomberg's radio program.
Commentary at Bloomberg | Jonathan Gruber
On inflation and the middle class | Jonathan Gruber
Gruber discussed the latest on inflation, including the potential strategies of the Federal Reserve Bank and why the middle class is being left behind. He also explained the economic impacts of government failure and whether the United States is heading in that direction.
Commentary at WGBH
Financial data analysis graph; iStock
THE NEW YORK TIMES
The meaning of the plunging Euro | Rudiger Dornbusch cited
"Most modern analysis of exchange rates builds on a classic paper, 'Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics,' by Dornbusch, which had an enormous and salutary influence on the field — I’ve argued it saved international macroeconomics. Per Dornbusch, exchange rates are determined in the long run by fundamentals — roughly speaking, a country’s currency tends to settle at the level at which its industry is competitive on world markets."
Story at The New York Times | Rudiger Dornbusch (1942-2002)
THE BOSTON GLOBE
It’s not a recession until this Cambridge-based group says so | James Poterba cited
Poterba, Mitsui Professor of Economics, who has served on the recession dating committee since 2008, said politics does not factor into its decision-making. . . . “We have certainly been working, as has the economics profession more generally, to try to be much more attuned to issues of diversity and inclusion in the last few years and I think that’s a very welcome thing,” Poterba said.
Story at The Boston Globe | James Poterba
What the world can learn from South Africa | Evan Lieberman
“At this time when the idea of democracy is under assault, South Africa shows us that (democracy) is still a really promising and probably our best political solution, particularly in diverse societies,” said Lieberman, the Total Professor of Political Science and Contemporary Africa at MIT. South Africa offers “a reminder that we can solve our problems through a combination of elections, good institutions, deliberation and a public spiritedness that is intrinsic to democratic practice.”
Interview | Related story | Evan Lieberman
How can we decrease the fear of terrorism? | Peter Krause and colleagues
"The gap between the risk of dying from terrorism and the fear of it is large. This misperception can help the terrorists, making their violence more consequential and giving their hateful ideas more attention than they deserve." MIT Security Studies Program research affiliate Krause and colleagues offer a way out. They find that "public education campaigns can lead to a more informed, less fearful, more resilient public. This would represent a significant counterterrorism success in and of itself, while also providing the basis for improved domestic and foreign policy."
Article at Lawfare | Peter Krause
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Election officials confront cyber threats, false claims ahead of midterms
While it isn’t new for supporters of a losing candidate from either party to question results, polls show widening divisions. In 2020, 22% of Republicans were confident that ballots were counted accurately nationwide, compared with 93% of Democrats, according to a survey by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers. That was a bigger gap than in 2016, when 80% of Republicans were confident in the results showing Mr. Trump’s win, compared with 69% of Democrats.
Story at The Wall Street Journal
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; photo via Getty Images
THE NEW YORK TIMES
What was Shinzo Abe’s political influence on Japan? | Richard Samuels
“We didn’t know what we were going to get when Abe came to office with this hard nationalist reputation,” said Samuels, Ford Professor of Political Science and author of books on Japan’s military and intelligence capabilities. “What we got was a pragmatic realist who understood the limits of Japan’s power, and who knew it wasn’t going to be able to balance China’s rise on its own. So he designed a new system.”
Story at The New York Times | Richard Samuels
Is Russian defeat in Ukraine War nothing but a 'fantasy'? | Barry Posen
"Five months into this war and the momentum appears to be with Russian forces. Less than two weeks ago they captured half of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region — and attacks on the other half have increased ever since. Ukraine has vowed not to cede another inch of territory to Russia. Is Ukraine now equipped with Western weapons to follow through?" Posen is the Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT.
| Barry Posen
THE WASHINGTON POST
What’s at stake with a Pelosi visit to Taiwan | M. Taylor Fravel
“The response will almost certainly include a military component, most likely with a show of force in the first instance — live fire exercises, a much greater military presence within the Taiwan Strait and … even missile tests,” tweeted Fravel, the Sloan Professor of Political Science at MIT.
Story at The Washington Post | M. Taylor Fravel
A senseless murder, a landslide election in Japan | Richard Samuels
Mr Abe’s death could prove a “tailwind”, reckons Richard Samuels of MIT. . . . The “centre of gravity of public opinion has shifted” toward support for a stronger, more muscular Japan, says Samuels.
Story at The Economist
Putin bets on an ancient weapon in Ukraine: time | Barry Posen
So how does it end in Ukraine? "My best guess is that this ends with a stalemate close to the current battle lines, perhaps an ugly armistice," said Posen. "You’re headed for an ugly period of political-military experimentation followed by an uncomfortable and un-legitimated settlement into a frozen conflict."
Analysis at Reuters
Nancy Pelosi just lit a match at the dynamite factory | M. Taylor Fravel
Fravel says Chinese actions could include “breaking the norm of the median line, firing missiles into the Taiwan Straits, economic punishment of Taiwan, underscoring their resolve without risking significant escalation”—though, of course, anytime a country underscores its resolve militarily, it risks significant escalation.
Story at Slate
BULLETIN OF THE ATOMIC SCIENTISTS
What is the US military capacity to protect Taiwan from China? | Owen Cote
Cote, associate director of the MIT Security Studies Program MIT, explains.
Commentary | Owen Cote
China ends series of live fire military drills around Taiwan | M. Taylor Fravel
"Four to five missiles launched from the Chinese mainland sort of flew over the island itself, which I think has quite a significant kind of psychological impact and is quite provocative. What we're seeing is the PLA engaging in sort of — or exercising blockade operations, namely how it would use its sort of naval forces and its air forces, perhaps in conjunction with its missiles, to try to choke off Taiwan from international commerce."
Story at NPR
HONORS, AWARDS, AND APPOINTMENTS
Christopher Capozzola named senior associate dean for MIT Open Learning
Professor of history and public history advocate will oversee open education offerings and campus-focused services.
Story | Christopher Capozzola
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY
Sherry Turkle among 2022 Champions of Freedom Award winners
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) announced the five individuals it will be honoring at its annual Champions of Freedom Awards ceremony, to be held on September 21st in Washington, DC. EPIC established the Champions of Freedom Awards in 2004 to honor individuals and organizations that have worked to safeguard the right to privacy, open government, and democratic values with courage and integrity.
Announcement | About Sherry Turkle
PHILOSOPHY + MANAGEMENT
Caspar Hare, Georgia Perakis named associate deans of Social & Ethical Responsibilities of Computing
Hare, a Professor of Philosophy, and Perakis, the Pounds Professor of Management in the Sloan School, will work together to advance the cross-cutting initiative of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing.
Story | Caspar Hare | Georgia Perakis
David Autor appointed to U.S. Foreign Affairs Policy Board
Secretary of State Antony Blinken selected Autor for this major role alongside a team of powerhouse experts to help guide U.S. foreign policy. "With expertise at the intersection of foreign and domestic policy, the Board will focus on the issues of increasing importance to the lives and livelihoods of Americans in the decade ahead, including cybersecurity and emerging technologies, climate and energy, international economics, global health, and strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China." Autor is the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and a co-director of the MIT Blueprint Labs.
Press release, U.S. State Department | David Autor | Blueprint Labs
MIT campus aerial; Photo by Emily Dahl
ECONOMICS & LINGUISTICS
QS ranks MIT the world's No. 1 university for 2022-2023
Earning the top spot for the 11th straight year, the Institute also placed first in 12 subject areas, including Linguistics, and second, worldwide, for Economics.
Story | MIT Linguistics | MIT Economics
Luísa Reis-Castro PhD'21 wins 2022 Singer Prize
British Society for the History of Science awarded Reis-Castro this year's Singer Prize for her winning essay entry, to be published in The British Journal for the History of Science.
Announcement on Twitter | About Luísa Reis-Castro
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