Said and Done
MIT SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES, ARTS, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
"Election officials at the grass roots level are working at a high level to ensure that voting will be safe and secure in November. Americans should be communicating with their state elected officials — governors and state legislators — to advocate for the measures necessary to meet this crisis."
— Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science; Founder, MIT Election Data and Science Lab
AT THE NEXUS OF POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/UK DFID
ABDUL LATIF JAMEEL POVERTY ACTION LAB
$25M gift launches initiative for climate response programs
With a founding gift from King Philanthropies, the King Climate Action Initiative at J-PAL will collaborate with leaders in government, NGOs, the private sector and climate and social scientists worldwide to design, pilot, evaluate, and scale technological and policy innovations in four areas: mitigating carbon emissions; reducing pollution; adapting to climate change; and shifting toward cleaner, affordable sources of energy. The initiative aims to improve the lives of 25 million people over the next decade.
Story | About K-CAI at J-PAL
THE MEANINGS OF MASKS
One of the bespoke masks that Professor Emma Teng made for MIT colleagues
As The Washington Post has reported, "a fraught relationship with masks" is "at the heart of the dismal US coronavirus response." In this ongoing series of short commentaries, MIT faculty delve into the myriad historic, creative, and cultural meanings of masks. We hope these insights offer more ways to think about, appreciate, and practice protective masking, currently a primary way to save lives and to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
The mask as public spiritedness | 公德心 | Emma Teng
"Norms in East Asian countries support the notion that 'doing something for the community good is good for me also.' Face masks are worn for a wide range of purposes: combatting urban pollution, for sun protection, for extra privacy, and, if you have a cold, as a matter of basic etiquette to protect others from possible infection."
| Related: The Science and Craft of Masks
Masks reveal new possibilities | Manduhai Buyandelger
"In both traditional shamanic rituals and in contemporary computer-mediated virtual reality, a mask conceals one identity to reveal new possibilities. Seen in this light, virus protection masks offer an opportunity to replace a visage of fear with a public expression of strength as a community."
RESEARCH + BOOKSHELF
MIT GOVERNANCE LAB
The promise of using WhatsApp for low-tech distance learning
Teaching community organizers via WhatsApp yields encouraging results in South Africa. The MIT Gov/Lab supported a pilot leadership course (by Grassroot) with wraparound research to assess content and the promise of behavioral change.
Story by Alisa Zomer
Mask mandates have major impact | Victor Chernozhukov + colleagues
Analysis shows that requiring masks for public-facing US business employees on April 1 would have saved tens of thousands of lives.
Story at MIT News
Covid-19 and the Social Sciences | Fotini Christia, Chappell Lawson
The authors address impacts of the pandemic on research and fieldwork in the social science fields, and outline ways to support the cohort of graduate students whose research is being affected by the pandemic.
Commentary in the SSRC
Browse the collection
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY
'Junior Republics' in the history of American childhood | Jennifer Light
Light examines the history of an enormously popular movement in which children acted as politicians, judges, police officers, and journalists in a simulacrum of the civic world. The movement, Light observes, shows that long before computers, Americans were intrigued by the educational possibilities of virtual worlds.
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News
Bound by War: The Philippines and the US | Christopher Capozzola
An epic story of a century of conflict and migration, Bound By War is a definitive portrait of an uneven partnership and the two nations it transformed. “To understand 20th-century America, you need to understand the US military," says Capozzola. "Not only as a [fighting] force...but also a generative force that transforms social relationships."
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News
Louis Kampf (1929-2020) speaking as President of the Modern Language Association, 1971
Louis Kampf, distinguished professor emeritus, dies at 91
A brilliant literary scholar, progressive activist, educational innovator, and connoisseur of music, Louis Kampf is also remembered as an unsurpassed friend.
KNIGHT SCIENCE JOURNALISM AT MIT
Knight Science Journalism program announces 2020-21 fellowship class
Welcome to 18 distinguished American science journalists who will conduct projects on a wide range of issues including race-based health disparities, institutional responses to Covid-19, and the impacts of climate change.
Story by KSJ
OUR SPECTACULAR MIT SHASS STAFF
Bravo to our 2020 MIT-SHASS Infinite Mile Awardees
Brittany Bradley of J-PAL; Alicia Goldstein Raun of MISTI; Fatih Basaga of MIT CIS; Miguel Flores of MIT_Music and Theater Arts; Zina Queen of MIT Political Science; and Belinda Yung of MIT Literature. Warmest thanks for your extraordinary contributions to our School and MIT.
Gallery of Award Winners
RESEARCH FOR THE PANDEMIC | SAFE, INCLUSIVE ELECTIONS
Explore the Pandemic Series
Voting-by-mail has higher rate of "lost votes" than in-person voting
Professor Charles Stewart III and a legion of the nation's election researchers and administrators continue intense work to make all forms of voting as safe, secure, and inclusive as possible. Stewart recently shared new research alerting voters and election administrators to the higher rate of "lost votes" with mail-in voting, and says, "If I were advising someone at a lower health risk, I would say think about early in-person voting. But go early...don't wait until the last minute."
Story | Research Paper | @MITelectionlab | Analysis
Up-to-date information from the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project
The project is a compendium of election research, tools, and recommendations. To ensure confidence in the 2020 elections, Healthy Elections is currently encouraging the nation's media to educate the U.S. public about the near-certain delay in getting a full, accurate count of votes in November due to increased mail-in ballots.
Story | Website | Vote by Mail Guide | In-Person Voting | 14 Recommendations | @HealthElex
MAKING A JUST SOCIETY
Detail, portrait of James Baldwin
Explore the Just Society series
Unearthing the stories of yesterday’s George Floyds | Melissa Nobles
"When we call the victims’ descendants to share our findings, they tell us ‘I never thought I’d get this call.’ The scars remain, and luckily, because we have found documents, so does proof." Dean Nobles discusses the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.
How a popular medical device encodes racial bias | Amy Moran-Thomas
Anthropologist Moran-Thomas analyzes the racial bias encoded in the design of standard pulse oximeters "as a case study of systemic racism in miniature." The devices, which measure blood oxygen levels, work by shining a light through the skin. The instrument works well for people with light skin, but gives inaccurate readings for people with darker skin, a flaw that that can lead to serious medical consequences.
Story at The Boston Review
Explore the Climate Series
Humanistic research urged for MIT Climate Grand Challenges
Both technology adoption and behavioral change on a large scale are possible "if we understand their economic, political, psychological, and social drivers. Research leading to significant advances in both scientific and humanistic understanding of these phenomena...would be among the highest-impact research-based contributions to climate mitigation and adaptation."
Information for Letters of Intent + Proposals
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Perspectives for the Pandemic
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Ethics, Computing, and AI: Perspectives from MIT
Computing and AI: Humanistic Perspectives from MIT
Published by SHASS Communications
Office of the Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Editor and Designer: Emily Hiestand
Publication Associate: Alison Lanier
Published 12 August 2020