APRIL 2023


Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf speaks at the Muh Award Lecture. Photo by Amanda Sabga

Gov. Tom Wolf PhD '81
Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf made a forthright call for integrity and the expression of a common purpose in politics, while accepting the Institute’s 2023 Robert A. Muh Alumni Award from the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) on March 21.
Story at MIT News | Watch Gov. Wolf's lecture | About the Muh Award


How young children communicate could reveal fundamental truths about the nature of conversation 
In a new paper published in Linguistics and Philosophy, three researchers in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy contend that kids are the key to corroborating a long-debated theory about presupposed content in sentences.
Story on MIT SHASS | Read the paper

Paying Taxes Without Receiving Services: Informal Settlements in Lagos 
In research published in the journal Studies in Comparative International Development, MIT GOV/LAB researchers look at factors influencing people's willingness to pay taxes in informal settlements in Lagos, Nigeria.
Story on MIT GOV/LAB | Read the paper

The Transcendant Brain: Spirituality in the Age of Science | Alan Lightman
Alan Lightman's new book asks how a sense of transendence can exist in brains made of atoms, molecules, and neurons. Lightman hosted a three-part PBS series, “Searching: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science,” which explores related themes. Additionally, MIT will host an April 12 event on the topic, featuring Lightman and a diverse panel of experts.
Story at MIT News | Review in the Wall Street Journal


New African and African diaspora major takes off at MIT
Commencement 2022 marked a milestone in MIT’s history, as Stacy Godfreey-Igwe ’22 became the first student to graduate in African and African diaspora studies (AADS). The major invites students to explore the riches of culture, innovation, thought leadership, and beauty that originate in the continent of Africa and its many diasporas.
Story at MIT News

Assessing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, after a year of war
Ukraine has been withstanding Russia’s invasion for slightly more than a year. One element of this resistance has been the military aid many allies have provided Ukraine. But surely the most important factor, ever since Russia attacked in February 2022, has been the strong sense of solidarity Ukranians have displayed in their attempt to keep their country free and democratic. That was one takeaway from a recent public discussion at MIT, “Ukraine and Russia One Year On: The Domestic Impact of the War.” The event, held online, was the latest iteration of the Starr Forum, MIT’s prominent event series on foreign policy and international relations.
Story at MIT News

3 Questions: The Iraq invasion, 20 years later
March marked the 20th anniversary of the United States-led invasion of Iraq. Code-named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” by the George W. Bush administration, the goal was to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, topple Saddam Hussein, and remake Iraq into a democracy. Two decades later, U.S. troops are still on Iraqi soil and that nation is ravaged by challenges, including a threat of civil war last August. MIT scholars discussed the history behind the war, lessons learned on state-building, and Iraq's current political outlook.
Story at MIT News


Marah Gubar named a 2023 MacVicar Faculty Fellow
The Office of the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar’s Office announced associate professor of literature Marah Gubar is among this year’s Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellows. Gubar’s research focuses on children’s literature, history of children’s theater, performance, and 19th- and 20th-century representations of childhood. Her research and pedagogies underscore the importance of integrated learning.
Story at MIT News

Thirty-two exceptional MIT students selected as 2023 Burchard Scholars 
The MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is pleased to announce that 32 MIT undergraduate sophomores and juniors have been named as 2023 Burchard Scholars.
Story at MIT News

Recipients of the 2022 Levitan Teaching Award
Five extraordinary MIT SHASS educators were honored with the 2022 Levitan Teaching Awards. Presented each year, the award distinguishes these instructors as some of the finest at the Institute. Nominations are now open for the 2023 Levitan Teaching Awards. The deadline to submit a nomination is April 23, 2023.
Story on SHASS news


Photo by Ian MacLellan 

Bringing AI and philosophy into dialogue | Matthew Kearney 
Matthew Kearney was drawn to MIT by the culture of its cross-country team. Now a senior, and a team captain, Kearney has made the most of his athletic and academic experiences. He arrived at MIT expecting to major in electrical engineering and computer science but fell in love with philosophy after taking 24.02 (Moral Problems and the Good Life). He’s majoring in both while also completing a master’s degree in computer science and engineering.
Full profile at MIT News


Photo: The Guardian/Replika

Meet the chatbots that want to be your best friend | Sherry Turkle
Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT: “It’s the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy.”
Story at The Guardian

The False Promise of ChatGPT | Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky coauthors this opinion essay on the promise and perils of ChatGPT. He is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics Emeritus at MIT.
Essay at The New York Times

Low-Wage Workers Climb the Earnings Ladder | David Autor
In a recent paper, economists David Autor of MIT - and Annie McGrew and Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts Amherst - explore this welcome development.
Story at the Wall Street Journal

The puzzles and pieces of Social Security | Peter Diamond
The Nobel laureate and MIT Institute Professor Emeritus speaks with a Globe columnist on the program's future. 
Essay at the Boston Globe

BPR Show: Rainbowland | Jonathan Gruber
Impromptu parrot advice from a regular guest and his family.​
Clip from WBGH-FM

Where does the Boston accent come from? | Edward Flemming
MIT Linguistics Professor Edward Flemming weighs in on the dropped "R" and some lesser known features of the Boston accent.
Story at Boston.com


Pamela Z at MIT performing at the CAST Marathon Concert. Photo by L. Barry Hetherington

Artist residency: Pamela Z, 2022 Recipient of the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT

Pamela Z will present two free public programs:

Concert: Pamela Z with People

Wednesday, April 19, 5:30 pm

MIT Media Lab Multipurpose Room, 6th floor

Artist Lecture: Crossing Disciplines

Thursday, April 20, 5 pm

MIT Room 26-100


MIT Anthropology Book Party

Thursday, April 6, 4 pm

Samberg Conference Center, Salon West 

Global France Seminar presents La Parisienne Démystifiée

Thursday, April 6, 5 pm

182 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA

MIT in 3:00 Video Competition Screening

Thursday, April 6, 6:30 pm

Bartos Theater

Slow Violence: MIT Theater Arts Spring 2023 Production

Thursday, April 6 through Sunday, April 9

W97, 110

Dr. Laurence Ralph Colloquium: "Juvenile Murder, Vengeance, and Grief"

Monday, April 10, 4 pm 

The Nexus, Hayden Library

Starr Forum: "Reinventing Japan ... Again?" 

Thursday, April 13, 4:30 pm

Samberg Conference Center

The People's Poetry Archive Presents A Poetry Reading With Ross Gay

Wednesday, April 26, 5:15 pm

Bartos Theater

SHASS events calendar

Published by SHASS Communications
Office of the Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
April 2023
Michael Brindley, Director of Communications

Stephen Oakes, Media Relations Manager