Said and Done

October 2014 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences



“If you could look down on the universe, you would see things spread out in time as you would see the universe spread out in space. You could see that things are one way at earlier times and different at later times, but you wouldn’t say the universe as a whole is changing.”

— Brad Skow, MIT Associate Professor of Philosophy, on the “block universe” theory of time                                   



MIT SHASS alumnus Jean Tirole wins Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
Tirole, PhD'81, who is also a former MIT faculty member and a current annual Visiting Professor of Economics at MIT, was awarded the 2014 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his analysis of market power and how governments can better regulate industries from banking to telecommunications.

Stories at Nobel websiteMIT NewsBloombergNew York TimesBoston Globe 

Recording of Tirole after receiving the Nobel Prize


Danny Fox named Anshen-Chomsky Professor of Language and Thought
“Danny Fox belongs to the rare breed of researchers who not only discover remarkable new facts about language, but also has the vision to see what these discoveries are teaching us about the mind as a whole, about the structure of language as a part of the human mind, and about the internal workings of language itself,” said David Pesetsky, Head of the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. “He is simultaneously a theoretician and an experimentalist, a brilliant linguist, and a profound cognitive scientist.”
Story by SHASS Communications


                Photograph of Danny Fox by Christopher J. Naylor, MIT Linguistics and Philosophy

Bateson wins APSA's Almond Award for best disseration in comparative politics 
Assistant Professor Regina Bateson’s dissertation: “Order and Violence in Postwar Guatemala” won the APSA’s Gabriel A. Almond Award, given annually to the best dissertation in the field of Comparative Politics.
Bateson webpage


Calestous Juma Receives Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize
Juma, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor at CIS at MIT, received the Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize for his leadership in African socio-economic development. The award was presented to Juma in Nigeria on October 10, 2014, by the Millennium Excellence Foundation. 

MIT Visiting Artist Kat Cizek receives second Emmy
Cizek, a Visiting Artist at the Open Documentary Lab has received her second Emmy, this time for an interactive documentary done in collaboration with the New York Times
Open Documentary Lab website 


Regina Bateson, MIT Assistant Professor of Political Science; Calestous Juma, Visiting MLK Professor in CIS; Visiting Artist Kat Cizek, Visiting Artist, CMS/W Open Documentary Lab


Steve Yablo interviewed by Richard Marshall in 3AM Magazine

3:AM: What made you become a philosopher?

Stephen Yablo: Hmmmm. I guess it was Hebrew school. The teacher said that we must never judge God, since we don’t know a thing about him. I was in love at the time with Magilla Gorilla, a cartoon character. He struck me as a higher sort of being. This sounded nutty, I realized, and I kept it to myself. Then on hearing that nothing was known about God, I inferred that in particular it wasn’t known that he was not my loveable ape. I was told on raising this question in class that one thing was known after all; God was not Magilla. This confused me enough to start me down the road to philosophy.

                                 Photograph of Steve Yablo by Jon Sachs, MIT SHASS Communications 



Global Studies & Languages

Literature at MIT

The Humanities Flim Office 




MIT SHASS welcomes ten new faculty members
Story by SHASS Communications

New SHASS faculty for Fall 2014. Top row: Nikhil Agarwal, Charlotte Brathwaite, Marah Gubar. 2nd row: In Song Kim, Justin Khoo; 3rd row: Evan Lieberman, Jennifer Light, Roger Schwarzschild; Bottom row: Kieran Setiya, Alex Wolitzky 



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, MIT SHASS research helps alleviate poverty, safeguard elections, steer economies, understand the past and present, generate wise approaches to health, environment, water, and energy challenges, inform effective policy, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Research Portfolio


Studying time makes this philosopher tick | Brad Skow
Newly tenured Brad Skow studies the philosophy of science and the intricacies of time.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

Revisiting African technology | Clapperton Mavhunga
Historian Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga's new book explores the confluence of innovation, hunting and nature in Zimbabwe. 
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

Caught in the social safety net | Andrea Campbell 
Political Scientist Andrea Campbell gives a firsthand perspective on the effects of means-tested social insurance programs.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

Andrea Campbell, Associate Professor of Political Science, author of Trapped in America's Safety Net, One Family's Struggle (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Workplace diversity can help the bottom line | Sara Ellison
MIT economist scrutinizes firm data suggesting diverse offices function more effectively.
Story by Peter Dizkies at MIT News

3 Questions: Jim Walsh on the elusive U.S.-Iran nuclear treaty
Expert thinks treaty to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program faces more barriers domestically than in negotiations.
Story at MIT News

Keeping score | Michael Cuthbert
Newly tenured professor Michael Cuthbert dives into old music to recreate the art of centuries past. Working along a continuum of time, he shows MIT students both the power of historical context and the illuminations of new technology.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

Southern Africa as a lens on governance and citizenship | Evan Lieberman 
Lieberman is the newly appointed Total Chair on Contemporary Africa and a professor in MIT Political Science. He studies the causes and consequences of ethnic conflict and the determinants of good governance and policy-making, including how countries have responded to the AIDS crisis. 
Story by Eric Smalley


The research of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences appears principally in the form of books and publications, and music and theater productions. These gems of the School provide new knowledge and analysis, innovation and insight, guidance for policy, and nourishment for lives.
Take a look 

L to R: The Measure of American Elections, by Charles Stewart III (Cambridge University Press, 2014); Impressions, Mark Harvey and Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (Leo Records, 2014); George Frideric Handel, A Life with Friends, by Ellen T. Harris (W.W. Norton & Co., 2014)   



Q&A: John Durant and David Kaiser on spurring public interest in science
Report on novel forms of science engagement raises new questions about outreach. 

MIT launches a new music series: MIT Sounding
The new concert series will feature world premieres, reconstructed classics, and Grammy Award-winning musicians.


Mark Harvey's Aardvark Jazz Orchestra releases new CD 
Comprised of live performances recorded at MIT, and supported by a grant from the SHASS Research Fund, Aardvark's 12th CD "Impressions" is garnering enthusiastic reviews. A highly-regarded composer, Harvey is a Lecturer in the MIT Music Program, and esteemed director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra.
About + forthcoming performances  | Commentary at WBUR | Mark Harvey webpage

                                                   Mark Harvey (in blue tie) and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra



Ultimate Truths | MIT Communications Forum event 
4 brilliant thinkers will explore the differences and similarities in the kinds of knowledge available through inquiry in the sciences and humanities, and the ways that knowledge is obtained. Panelists are historian, novelist, and columnist James Carroll; philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein; author and physicist Alan Lightman; and biologist Robert WeinbergSeth Mnookin, Associate Director of the Forum, will moderate. 7-9pm, Stata Center 
Full information


Presenting the MIT Music & Theater Arts Fall Events Calendar 
Fall events include musical performances by Eviyan, the Jupiter Quartet, the Mysore Brothers, Seth Josel, the Ellipsis Trio, Welsh baritone Jeremy Huw Williams, the MIT Symphony Orchestra, and others, and a theater production of 





Challenging technical privilege | how race and gender matter  
Silent Technical Privilege occurs when those who "look the part," or conform to society's stereotype of what a tech-savvy, number-crunching programmer or engineer looks like, receive the benefit of the doubt or implicit endorsement in technical settings. At this interactive symposium a panel discussed how Technical Privilege, Stereotype Threat and other forms of Implicit Bias contribute to this underrepresentation.
Video of event  | Event Website  |  Story at The Boston Globe 

Evolving culture of science engagement | David Kaiser 
Article in the Huffington Post about the "Evolving Culture of Science Engagement" project at MIT, which recently released a detailed report. 
Story at The Huffington Post | Interview + Report | Culture of Science Engagement website 

Audio Story | Can the coalition airstrikes In Syria thwart ISIS?
Jim Walsh, a security expert at MIT's Security Studies Program joins Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer to discuss the coalition effort against ISIS
Audio story at WBUR


Palmyra, Syria; photocredit Frederik Questier, Yanna Van Wesermael (Creative Common)

Fact or Fiction: video games are the future of education?
Few would argue that video games can do it all in terms of education, says Scot Osterweil, a research director in Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Comparative Media Studies program and creative director of the school's Education Arcade initiative to explore how games can be used to promote learning.  
Story at Scientific American


With New Health Law, Shopping Around Can Be Crucial
The small increases in the cheapest silver plan and the decreases in benchmark plans are a sign the marketplace is working as intended, said MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped design the marketplace structure in the Affordable Care Act. “The main feature was that competition would bring rates down, and it did,” he said.
Story at the New York Times


Why is Thomas Piketty's 700-page book a bestseller?
Thomas Piketty is a French economist whose 700-page book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century has swept American discourse. Four experts – Brad DeLong, Tyler Cowen, Stephanie Kelton Emanuel Derman — weigh in on why.
Story at The Guardian



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