Said and Done

October 2017
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences


"Retracing debates about the meaning of magic, anthropologist Graham Jones has drilled down toward bedrock-level issues about belief and the nature of knowledge — how we know what we know, and how we form our beliefs about the world." — MIT News


How philosophy can solve your midlife crisis | Kieran Setiya
In Midlife, MIT professor Kieran Setiya examines the problems of middle-aged happiness, reaches some unusual conclusions — he thinks we should embrace our regrets — and explores how philosophy can help people find peace of mind.
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News | Op-Ed by Setiya at The New York Times

Probing the behavior of an international bully | Ketian Zhang
Doctoral student Ketian Zhang sheds light on China's use of coercion in foreign policy, hoping to span a deep divide. “China’s choice of tools tends to be non-militarized,” Zhang says. “They prefer to use economic and diplomatic sticks.”
Story by Leda Zimmerman

Nuclear and present danger | Jim Walsh, Vipin Narang
MIT security experts discuss how to lower tensions between the US and North Korea. “Why would Kim think we might attack him? Because we keep saying that over and over again,” said SSP's Jim Walsh. “The bad news is that denuclearization is a fantasy,” said Vipin Narang, Associate Professor of Political Science. “The good news is, deterrence can work.”
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News


Bridging the Digital Gap | Jing Wang
New Media Action Lab increases the impact of NGOs across China.
Led by cultural studies scholar Jing Wang, the NGO2.0 project helps grassroots nongovernmental organizations throughout China employ digital and social media tools to collaborate with each other, create crowd-funding projects, and enhance public awareness of their social causes. A significant player in the nonprofit sector in China, NGO2.0 has trained over 800 organizations in a wide range of skills — from management strategy to video production.
Story by SHASS Communications


A civic hackathon in collaboration with Tencent Cloud developers, Shenzhen. Professor Jing Wang left front; CMS/W alumnus Wang Yu, left rear; and four NGO leaders

The New Media Action Lab bridges the digital gap to improve social welfare for underserved populations in rural and urban China.

Operation: neutrino | David Kaiser
David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science, draws on his own research to explain how the neutrino went from ghost particle to vital physics tool — a tale of bombs, espionage, and subtle flavours.
Story at Aeon

German right-wing party is wrong on birthright citizenship | Elizabeth Dekeyser
PhD candidate Elizabeth Dekeyser draws on her research to argue that birthright citizenship in Germany has a significant positive impact on the attitudes and beliefs of the parents of citizen children.
Story at The Washington Post

Why magic is a microcosm of modern culture | Graham Jones
Driven by his interest the nature of belief and knowledge, Jones uses the lens of magic to explore how we know what we know, and how we form our beliefs about the world.
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News

Photo by M. Scott Brauer


Daron Acemoglu receives Doctor Honoris Causa from École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay
The honor was given on October 6, 2017; on the following day the ENS Paris-Saclay and the Crest laboratory hosted a workshop with Acemoglu, at which he delivered a speech on "Demographics and Robots."Acemoglu is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT.
Story at ENS

Alexandre and Padilla awarded Wellesley Newhouse Humanities Center Fellowship
Sandy Alexandre, Professor of Literature, and Tanalís Padilla, Associate Professor of History, have been been awarded year-long fellowships by the Newhouse Humanities Center Fellowship at Wellesley College to support the completion of their next books. 
Profiles at the Newhouse Humanities Center

Sherry Turkle a finalist for biennial Thinkers50 awards
Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, is one of seven members of the MIT community who were named to the shortlist for the biennial Thinkers50 awards. 
Story at MIT Sloan

L to R: Daron Acemoglu, Sandy Alexandre, Tanalís Padilla, and Sherry Turkle


SHASS faculty member John Durant plans a new era for the MIT Museum
As he makes plans for a new, purpose-built museum in Kendall Square, MIT Museum Director John Durant — a faculty member of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society — says he is looking forward to creating an experimental space that offers the public wider conversations and deeper insights into the research under way at MIT.
Story by SHASS Communications

Photo by Jon Sachs

“Creative expression and the critical examination of ideas in their social and historical contexts are essential to the work of any museum, and particularly to the work of the MIT Museum. ... They allow us to have wider conversations.”


The SHASS Online Bookshelf

Letting Time Circle Through Us | Keeril Makan
The Boston Globe calls Makan's composition "a sonorous, strongly tonal landscape whose horizons seem vaster than what six musicians could produce."
Listen to a sample at New World Records | Keeril Makan's website

Midlife: A Philosophical Guide | Kieran Setiya
How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? MIT philosopher Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood, showing how philosophy can help us thrive.
Princeton University Press | Kieran Setiya's website

I Love XXX and Other Plays | Claire Conceison
This collection of plays by Chinese playwright Meng Jinghui, edited and translated by MIT theater scholar Claire Conceison, represents the breadth of Meng’s work and illuminates late twentieth- and twenty-first-century creative practices that transcend the conventional category of playwright.
Seagull Books | Claire Conceison's website


Remembering Thomas Derrah (1953 - 2017)
The renowned stage actor, inspiring teacher, and beloved member of MIT Music and Theater Arts, died October 5, at 64. A founding member of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Derrah was honored with Elliot Norton awards for best actor and sustained excellence. The actress Paula Plum said of Derrah, "He was magnificent in his generosity to everyone in the theater community. He was theater royalty." In collaboration with Tommy's family, the MIT Music and Theater Arts community is planning a event for Spring 2018 to celebrate Derrah's life.

Remembering Thomas Derrah | Appreciation at WBUR | The Boston Globe

Photographs: American Repertory Theater

“I remember how fiercely passionate he was about each and every play. And watching him work was sort of a master class in humanity."

— Paul Daigneault, SpeakEasy Stage Company


International Policy Lab issues new call for proposals
The IPL provides funding and policy outreach support to help MIT faculty and researchers connect with the policy world.
Story by Dan Pomeroy

French studies prepare Nicole Kogan ’18 for L’Institut Curie
Having studied French for several years, Kogan was ready to explore intracellular receptors and immunotherapy firsthand at Paris's L’Institut Curie. MISTI, a part of the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies, is MIT's leading international education program.   
Story at MISTI | About MISTI

Highlights from the 2017 MIT INSPIRE competition
Founded in 2015 by MIT undergraduates, INSPIRE is a humanities and social science research competition for high school students. Finalists from high schools across the US are hosted annually on MIT campus for the final stage of competition, judged by experts that include numerous MIT faculty.


To see all featured SHASS media stories, visit Complete Media October 2017.

Ending federal subsidies expected to raise premiums | Jonathan Gruber
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber explains that, with the abrupt end of federal subsidies, insurers “still need to provide these low-income protections to our citizens, but they suddenly need to finance them, which means that the premiums and the exchanges are going to have to go way up.”
Story at WGBH

Mark Zuckerberg's China dilemma: To kowtow or not? | Audrey Jiajia Li
In this commentary, CIS research fellow Li observes, “In decades past, the international community used to pressure the Chinese authorities to improve human rights conditions, including freedom of speech and the right to information. Apparently, that is no longer the case.”
Commentary at The Boston Globe

Learning from Gravitational Waves | David Kaiser 
Historian and physicist Kaiser writes, “LIGO shows what we can accomplish when we fix our eyes on a horizon well beyond a given budget cycle or annual report ... with patience, tenacity and luck, we can catch a glimpse of nature at its most profound.”
The New York Times

Photograph: NASA


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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 Evans Pritchard, SHASS Communications
Published October 18, 2017