MIT SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES, ARTS, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
Media + Awards Digest | December 2019
Office of the Dean
Greetings from MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.
In this edition of our monthly digest of news coverage and awards, you'll find illuminating reports from Nobel Week in Stockholm, as well as op-eds, interviews, and lectures by which our latest Nobel laureates in economics continue to share insights about alleviating global poverty.
There is also news of an award-winning video project, In Event of Moon Disaster, created by Professor Fox Harrell's Center for Advanced Virtuality, which is increasing the public's ability to recognize manipulated, "deepfake" videos intended to spread misinformation. As ever, our political science and security studies faculty have been actively contributing to important national dialogues on the impeachment hearings, voting access, North Korea, and the NATO summit. And MIT theater director Charlotte Brathwaite continues her ongoing work examining the future of democracy with a new podcast.
I hope you enjoy this December's digest — which comes with my warm wishes for a very happy holiday season!
Kenan Sahin Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
HONORS AND AWARDS
NOBEL WEEK | 2019 SVENGIES RIKSBANK PRIZE IN ECONOMICS SCIENCES
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer, the 2019 laureates in Economic Sciences at the Nobel Ceremony, Stockholm City Hall, 10 December 2019
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer were awarded the 2019 Nobel prize in Economic Sciences “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”
Information, Videos, and Photographs at the Nobel website
2019 Nobel Prize Ceremony
Presentations to Professors Banerjee and Duflo begin at 1:22. | Video
2019 Sveriges Riksbank Lectures in Economic Sciences | Video
THE BOSTON GLOBE
Economics laureates donate Nobel Prize money to next generation economists
“This has been such a humbling time,” said Duflo, “As a child, I read about Marie Curie who used the proceeds of her first Nobel prize to buy a gram of radium to further her research. Our field is a collaborative one, so supporting the next generation of economists is our ‘gram of radium’.”
NEW YORK TIMES
Measuring how effectively money is used | Duflo, Banerjee
Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee of MIT and Michael Kremer of Harvard were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. The Nobel committee said that the three “have considerably improved our efforts to fight global poverty” through their use of experiments to test how well social programs work.
Story at the New York Times
LINGUISTICS AND COMPARATIVE MEDIA STUDIES
Two MIT SHASS faculty elected to 2019 AAAS
The newly elected members from SHASS are Suzanne Flynn, professor of linguistics and language acquisition, and professor Eric Klopfer, Head of the Comparative Media Studies/Writing program and director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT.
Story at MIT News
Emily Richmond Pollock awarded 2019 Kurt Weill Prize
Pollock received award for her article, "Opera by the Book: Defining Music Theater in the Third Reich," published in 2018. The prize is given every two years and recognizes an outstanding article on opera or musical theater since 1900.
MIT CENTER FOR ADVANCED VIRTUALITY
"In Event of Moon Disaster" wins Special Jury Award for Creative Technology
This innovative video installation is educating the public about the global challenge of computer-based misinformation in a world "fraught with challenges over the question of truth." Developed by Fox Harrell, Francesca Panetta, and Halsey Burgund, it received the Special Jury Award at the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling. The video uses "deepfake" technology to reimagine the story of the moon landing.
Story by MIT Open Learning | IDFA Jury Award
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY
Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean in a Lunar Module simulator (Photo by NASA/via Getty)
The power of precision in human-machine collaboration | David Mindell
After all the hoopla surrounding the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing last summer, Mindell encourages us to remember that five more Apollo crews landed after July of 1969. Each has something to teach us about people, technology, and how complex systems work in uncertain circumstances.
Commentary at Forbes
THE WASHINGTON POST
We need new research hubs, but not on the coasts. Here's how we get them.
“To boost economic growth, we should strengthen scientific fields where breakthroughs are imminent and where any other country — China in particular — threatens to forge ahead,” write MIT economists Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson. “We need to think strategically about where exactly we have people able to learn skills, work on innovation, and consequently increase our national scientific efforts.”
Story at The Washington Post
The myth of crowding out | John Van Reenen
A new paper by John Van Reenen, Enrico Moretti, Claudia Steinwender, from the economics departments of MIT, University of California, and Berkeley respectively, explores federal spending on defense research and development and its effects on private sector R&D expenditure.
Story at Financial Times (reg req)
HUMANITIES | DOCUMENTARY MEDIA
William Uricchio, MIT Professor of Comparative Media Studies
MEDIA FUTURES | IDFA DOC LAB
"Artists are really good at finding a wall and breaking through" | William Uricchio
On the nature and development of new digital media, and the cultural and technological trends in the field that we can expect in the coming years.
Interview by the IDFA Doc Lab
Chicago's Cook County jail recently opened voting to individuas incarcerated there. Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP
Jails disenfranchise thousands who have a constitutional right to vote | Ariel White, Thea Sebastian
The majority of people in state and local facilities haven't been convicted of a crime — but in many states, they may still be kept from ballot box.
Vindman testifies about Trump's Zelensky call | Carol Saivetz
Saivetz, senior advisor at MIT's Security Studies Program, joins Jim Braude to discuss the open impeachment hearings.
Conversation at WGBH
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Saudi money in U.S. horse racing is the sport's next moral jam | John Tirman
Tirman writes, "For more than two decades, horse racing has been influenced heavily by the Arab dynasties of the Persian Gulf, notably Dubai, a city-state in the United Arab Emirates."
Editorial at the Los Angeles Times
Trump and South Korea: ‘Nothing says I love you like a shakedown’ | Vipin Narang
Narang, an associate professor at MIT who follows the Korean peninsula, summarizing South Korean uncertainty about the U.S., was quoted saying, “Nothing says I love you like a shakedown.”
Story at MSNBC
CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
detail, cover of Special Duty, by MIT Professor Richard Samuels
Review of Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community
In this recent book, Richard Samuels, Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, has combined his impressive knowledge of Japanese history with a deep understanding of intelligence operations to produce this critical yet sympathetic treatment of Japan’s intelligence community.
ASIA TODAY | WGCH RADIO
Podcast interview about Special Duty with Richard Samuels
Samuels highlights the century-long history of Japan's struggles to develop a fully functioning and effective intelligence capability, and makes clear that Japanese leaders have begun to reinvent their nation's intelligence community.
On the 70th anniversary of NATO | Jim Walsh
As the NATO counterparts gathered in London to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary, Jim Walsh discussed the gathering.
Listen at WBUR
THE PERFORMING ARTS
AMERICA ON BLACK AMERICA
Award-winning director Charlotte Brathwaite discusses voter suppression
MIT professor and award winning director, Charlotte Brathwaite and filmmaker/journalist June Cross discuss voter suppression in America and their work in examining our future in the struggle for democracy and justice.
MIT team creates deepfake video to show the power of disinformation
"We hope that our work will spark critical awareness among the public," said Francesca Panetta, director of the project. We want them to be alert to what is possible with today's technology... and to be ready to question what they see and hear as we enter a future fraught with challenges over the question of truth."
Story at Newsweek
Christiane Jatahy | Jay Scheib
Scheib's "Christiane Jatahy" will be published in issue #150 of BOMB Magazine in December. The article and conversation with and about Brazilian director Christiane Jatahy discusses her recent and forthcoming works, convergences, divergences, and respective conceptual advances in Live Cinema Performances.
NEW YORK TIMES
The pop musical: go big (and loud) | Jay Scheib
“Bat Out of Hell” bets on extended numbers that constantly blur the line between earnest and tongue-in-cheek. Director Jay Scheib understood that holding back was not an option.
Commentary at New York Times
Andrew Polec, right, as Strat in “Bat Out of Hell”; photo by Emon Hassan for The New York Times
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Published 11 December 2019