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MIT SHASS welcomes ten new faculty

Dean Agustín Rayo and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences warmly welcome ten new professors to the MIT community. They arrive with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research. Welcome to all! 


Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship Program welcomes 2023-24 class

Fellowships support graduate scholars for a nine-month appointment at MIT.

Meet the SHASS 2023-24 MLK Visiting Scholars 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars enhance their scholarship through intellectual interactions with MIT peers and enrich the intellectual life of the Institute with their participation in MIT research and academic programs.

Empowering the next generation of philosophers through diversity and inclusion

Held annually at MIT, PIKSI-Boston brings together students from groups underrepresented in the field of philosophy

Q&A: Steven Gonzalez on Indigenous futurist science fiction

The HASTS PhD candidate describes his new book, “Sordidez,” a science fiction novella on rebuilding, healing, and indigeneity following civil war and climate disaster.


The philosophical side of cinema

MIT students examine movies, art, and ethics from both the producer and audience perspectives


Undark series "Long Division" wins first place at NABJ awards

Reporting project examined the fraught legacy of race science

2022 Levitan Prize Funds Studies on Early Language Acquisition

MIT researchers exploring children's acquisition of 'dummy words'

MIT economist Stephen Morris elected to the British Academy

Morris is among the class of 86 Fellows elected this year


Through documentary filmmaking, science writing graduate students build storytelling skills

In GPSW course, students produce short-form documentaries exploring topics in science

3 Questions: Justin Reich on the state of teacher speech in America

A new podcast series from MIT's Teaching Systems Lab explores the laws and cultural divisions presenting new challenges for educators

MIT and Czech Teams develop Novel Digital History Project supported by MISTI Czech Seed Fund

The project and the web application will be presented to the academic public in early October 2023

Keeril Makan named Associate Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Makan will lead special projects, while continuing to serve as section head of Music and Theater Arts


The Social Lives of Medical Objects

An anthropology course explores the unexpected social questions behind everyday medical devices  


101 MIT Class of 2023 students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society

A remarkable cohort of graduating seniors in the MIT Class of 2023 were honored for excellence in the liberal arts.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Literature section establishes DEI advisory board

Board members aim to provide resources to Literature faculty, staff, and students


On a mission to uplift others and save Marma  

For Linguistics graduate student Rani Ukhengching Marma from Bangladesh, protecting the indigenous language also means preserving her culture, traditional knowledge, and generational wisdom


Next steps for the 2022-23 SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellows

The MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) Diversity Predoctoral Fellows are concluding their time in the program. Learn more about this year's fellows and their plans for the future.


MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences 2023 Advanced Degree Ceremony

Photos and video from the ceremony, held Thursday, June 1, 2023


2023 Infinite Mile Awards

Five SHASS staff members recognized for their contributions to the MIT community


Profiles | Senior Spotlight

Meet 44 of the many graduating seniors who focused deeply on both the Liberal Arts and STEM fields at MIT. In their own words, these students reflect on the value of their multi-dimensional, dual-competence MIT education — and their plans for the future!


Timothy Loh, doctoral student in HASTS, awarded dissertation fellowship from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation

Loh's project explores the relationship between assistive technologies, disability, and education


Reading Poety: Social Poetics

This new Literature course was designed with an emphasis on Black U.S. poets, part of a group historically barred from literacy and many forms of ownership and belonging

MIT in 3:00 video competition 

Audrey Chen's video "Welcome to Arcturus" won the Audience Award, and Daisy Ziyan Zhang's "Her Days and Nights" won the Jury Award.


How young children communicate could reveal fundamental truths about the nature of conversation

MIT experts in early language development corroborate a long-debated theory about presupposed content in sentences

Global Languages logo

3 Questions: Global Languages at MIT

Global Languages faculty director Per Urlaub on the growing popularity of language programs at MIT


Benjamin Mangrum receives the 2023 Levitan Prize

Assistant professor of literature's research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of environmental rights


Announcing the 2022 Levitan Teaching Award Winners

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. 

Gov. Tom Wolf

Former Gov. Tom Wolf PhD '81 receives the 2023 Robert A. Muh Alumni Award

He will deliver his award lecture "Collective Action: The Essence of Politics" at a public event on March 21, 2023

neurons firing


SHASS stories on MIT News

The MIT News stories about SHASS research, awards, and creative works are primarily written by Peter Dizikes, Institute Writer for MIT News. The collected publications on this webpage also include some selected stories, which appear on MIT News, written by the SHASS academic units and by the SHASS Communications group in the Office of the Dean. 


MIT SHASS Advanced Degree Ceremony

Graduates of all master’s and doctoral programs through the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (MIT SHASS) will be recognized during an in-person, school-specific ceremony taking place on Thursday, June 1, 2023. Guests—up to 4 per graduate—will be welcomed at these celebrations and hoods will be presented to doctoral candidates.

Circular ripples in a pond


Given what we know, how do we live now?
MIT's Council for the Uncertain Human Future

The Council for the Uncertain Human Future convenes small circle groups to reckon with the climate crisis in solidarity. Sponsored jointly by MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, the Dean's Office of MIT SHASS, and the Council leadership, the ongoing program is part of Fast Forward: MIT's Climate Action Plan for the Decade.

rippling circle in water


Sidebar | MIT's Council on the Uncertain Human Future

Reflections from participants

photo of MIT Building 10

Honoring SHASS faculty service on Institute committees

Each year, many members of the MIT SHASS faculty give generously of their time to serve on Institute-level committees that play key roles in guiding MIT as a whole. Please join us in celebrating their remarkable dedication.

cell phone with image


Community is invited to the "Bearing Witness/Seeking Justice Conference: Videography in the Hands of the People"

“We’re encouraging people in the Greater Boston area to attend, including young people, concerned citizens, community-based organizations — everyone who cares about democracy, media, justice, and truth-telling."


82 MIT Class of 2022 students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society

A remarkable cohort of graduating seniors in the MIT Class of 2022 were honored for excellence in the liberal arts. Professor of History Elizabeth Wood gives the PBK address, titled: "Love of wisdom is the helmsman of life.”

MIT President Rafael Reif at Commencement


MIT SHASS Advanced Degree Ceremony

Thursday, May 26, 1pm. Join us via Livestream to celebrate the 2022 MIT SHASS Masters and Doctoral graduates!

Celebratory Fireworks


Profiles | Meet the MIT Bilinguals

Meet 38 of the many graduating seniors who focused deeply on both the Liberal Arts and STEM fields at MIT. In their own words, these "bilingual" students reflect on the value of their multi-dimensional, dual-competence MIT education — and their visions for the future!  

Portrait of Professor Amy Moran-Thomas


Amy Moran-Thomas receives the Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award

Anthropologist recognized for interdisciplinary work on health, climate, and equity

portrait of PhD student Kelcey Gibbons


New Shapiro Graduate Fellowship supports research on the History of the African-American Experience of Technology

HASTS PhD student Kelcey Gibbons is the inaugural recipient.

Detail, exhibit in the Chomsky Halle wing


Linguistics luminaries Chomsky and Halle honored

A Stata Center wing celebrates their achievements— and the next generation of linguistics research at MIT.

Portrait of historian Leo Marx


Influential scholar Leo Marx dies, at 102

Internationally respected and beloved, Leo Marx created a new lens for American history studies — and was a leader in bringing the humanities into a central academic role at MIT.

portrait of Bettina Stoetzer, MIT anthropologist


Expanding imagination for a livable future

A conversation with MIT anthropologist Bettina Stoetzer about shaping a livable future, her new book, and her MIT class on "Gender, Race, and Environmental Justice."

portrait of MIT historian Sana Aiyar


History Lab: 21H.S04

History class led by Associate Professor Sana Aiyar delves into South Asian experience at MIT via oral histories and the Institute Archives / Distinctive Collections

Portrait of MIT Professor Heather Paxson


Culture is a meaning-making practice
Heather Paxson, Wm. Kenan Jr. Professor of Anthropology

"Anthropologists originated the modern understanding of 'culture,' as describing a shared field of beliefs, values, and habituated ways of behaving that give meaning to daily life. What does anthropology have to say about “MIT culture”?

Industrial woman worker


MIT Economics receives Hewlett Foundation grant to study job quality

Shaping the Future of Work Program will advance research agenda and increase multi-disciplinary cooperation: The program "will analyze forces contributing to the erosion of job quality and labor market opportunity for workers without college degrees...and consider institutional, technological, and policy innovations that can change this trajectory."

Medieval castle by the ocean


A Portal to Another World: Arthur Bahr and the 14th Century Pearl-Manuscript

"Pearl is my favorite poem in the world,” says Bahr, a professor of literature at MIT. “Its form is simply exquisite, and the story itself is bittersweet.” He adds that "the Pearl-Manuscript as a whole serves as “a useful reminder that seriousness of moral and theological purpose can coexist with vivacity and verve and fun."  

detail,We the People


A Sampler of MIT Research on U.S. Democracy

A distilled selection of key research, news, and media commentaries from the past year on the state of U.S. democracy, from scholars in MIT's humanities and social science fields. What can leaders and We, the People do to sustain our democracy? Prepared for 6 January 2022. 

Portrait of MIT composer Elena Ruehr


Turning emotion into sound

In "Requiem," composer Elena Ruehr honors both personal and global losses. Of the Mozart and Brahms requiems that she treasures, Ruehr says: "To me these great works of art are noble because they express the sorrow of loss but also celebrate the beauty of life."

Sunset with Soundwave overlay


The Sound of a Sunset

The MIT Digital Humanities Lab unveils its Sonification Toolkit. Created by MIT students in the Digital Humanities Lab, the Toolkit is a set of digital tools that enable conversion of almost anything — from data to drawings — into sound that is aesthetically satisfying and analytically illuminating.

Joshua Angrist, 2021 Nobel laureate in economic sciences


Joshua Angrist wins the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

Cited for work building the foundations of “natural experiments” in economic research, Angrist shares the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with with David Card and Guido Imbens.

portrait of Adedolapo Adedokun '22


Adedolapo "Dolapo" Adedokun '22 | EECS + Music

EECS student, Mitchell Scholar, and musician aims to use tech to democratize access to creativity and the arts.

Black Lives Matter gathering


Sustaining the Momentum
Edited by M. Amah Edoh, MIT Professor of Anthropology and Liliane Umubyeyi, co-founder, the African Futures Lab

What will it take to sustain the momentum of movements for racial justice sparked in 2020? Ideas in a new essay collection co-edited by Amah Edoh, MIT Professor of Anthropology, and Liliane Umubyeyi, co-founder/co-director of the African Futures Lab.

detail, glowing light


Three MIT SHASS faculty receive inaugural Fang Fund awards

Funding will support projects by Fotini Christia (political science); Martin Hackl (linguistics); and Graham Jones (anthropology). 

Map of indigenous communities collaborating on the project


Conversations at the Frontline of Climate Change

Novel communications infrastructure from the MIT Civic Design Initiative aims to support communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo


The power of economics to explain and shape the world

In 14.009, a first-year class taught by Nobel laureates, MIT students discover how economics helps solve major societal problems.

Portrait, Professor Nazli Choucri, political scientist


Can the world change course on climate?    
A Conversation with Professor Nazli Choucri

MIT Political scientist Choucri discusses challenges and hopes for global coordination on sustainability and climate issues — and the role of political science in the process.

Research Fund Emblem - MIT columns


Six faculty receive MIT SHASS Research Fund awards for 2022

The SHASS Research Fund supports research in the Institute's humanities, arts, and social science fields that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity.

Detail, Native American territories, Massachusett


Indigeneity at MIT | A Conversation with David Shane Lowry '03 ('07)

Dr. Lowry is the Distinguished Fellow in Native American Studies at MIT, tasked with leading a conversation at MIT about the actions and responsibilities of the Institute in the history and current realities of Native American communities. A member of the Lumbee Tribe who trained as an anthropologist at MIT, Lowry focuses his research on people and institutions that impact personal and cultural healing.  

U.S. Flag with firework reflections


Charles Stewart III on elections in a hyper-partisan era

What can Americans do to protect our democracy? "The 2020 election showed the resilience of the fact-based part of the election administration system — election administrators, judges, and research institutions (including universities) — that have stood for the rule of law in the face of illiberal attacks on election administration. Opponents of fair elections recognize this and have attacked all parts of this fact-based bulwark."

photo of Rijul Kochar at MIT


Illuminating deeper histories: Rijul Kochhar

MIT HASTS PhD candidate Kochhar tracks changing global medical and microbial realities. "My job as an anthropologist is to track the ruination of antibiotics in cultural life, and to examine what is being done" about it," says Kochhar. Part of his quest is to resurrect neglected—but successful—techniques of the past in order to help control bacterial life in the present.

Sophia Gibert, MIT Philosophy


Ethics in action: Sophie Gibert

Gibert, a PhD student in philosophy, discusses applying the tools of philosophy to ethical questions, in particular the ethics of health and healthcare.

renewable energy sources


Why do some people call climate change an “existential threat”?

The phrase can refer to a literal threat to humanity’s existence, but also to the danger that unchecked climate change can pose to many human cultures and our sense of place in the natural world. "Whether or not climate change becomes a literal extinction threat, it has already changed our relationship with the planet we live and depend on, which will forever alter the way we feel about human existence." — Commentary by MIT Philosopher Kieran Setiya

detail, world map


Lighting the Path: Economics at MIT

The MIT Department of Economics works at the intersection of science, technology, and human behavior, using economic science to help address the world’s most pressing challenges. Across a wide range of disciplines and research areas, we’re deeply invested in finding solutions that work.

Emilia Simison, PhD student


New views of autocracy emerge from historic archives

Political science PhD student Emilia Simison has found that despotic regimes vary, and the move to democracy doesn’t necessarily guarantee policy change.

portrait of MIT Economist Nancy L. Rose


MIT economist Nancy L. Rose receives the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award

The annual prize recognizes an individual who has furthered the status of women in the economics profession through example, achievements, increasing our understanding of how women can advance in the economics profession, or mentoring others.

MIT columns and laurel branch


MIT SHASS welcomes six new faculty.

Our new faculty bring an array of research interests and domain knowledge to the School, including: ethical questions about misinformation and lying; macroeconomics; economic theory; transnational power and civic media; the literature and thought of East Asia; and the politics of trade.

portrait of Ryan Conti, MIT '23


Ryan Conti '23 | Math/CS + Philosophy of Language

Preparing for a career advancing the science and policy of climate issues, Ryan Conti '23 focuses on math, computer science, and the philosophy of language.

Portrait of Sabine Iatridou


Sabine Iatridou named David W. Skinner Professor of Linguistics

A leading scholar, ambassador for linguistics, and sought-after teacher, Iatridou impresses her colleagues with her keen insight and intuition about the most intricate linguistic patterns and her masterful grasp of crosslinguistic generalizations and exceptions.

people interacting an with immersive media installation


Transformative truth-telling at the MIT Open Documentary Lab

The lab's artists and technology scholars are exploring representation and reality — and designing the future of storytelling.


Agustín Rayo named interim dean of SHASS

Provost Martin Schmidt appoints the professor of philosophy and former associate dean to the role, launches search committee.

Melissa Nobles, Professor of Political Science, MIT Chancellor

Melissa Nobles named MIT’s next chancellor

After six years as the Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT SHASS, during which she advanced research and education across the humanities, arts, and social science fields at MIT, Nobles, a Professor of Political Science, will move to a senior academic post overseeing student life at the Institute.

Colorful Confetti


A Video Celebration for our 2020 + 2021 Infinite Mile Award Winners!

Join us to watch the virtual video event on 14 July, 4-5pm.


Webinar Series | History of Now: Plagues & Pandemics

In the spring of 2020, as people around the world confronted the daily reality of the Covid-19 pandemic, many wondered how previous generations navigated similar crises. At MIT, an interdisciplinary team of humanistic faculty explored this question in a course that broke ground as a live, free MIT class, held in an open public webinar format so that anyone who wanted to attend could do so, from anywhere in the world.

Rt. Hon. David Miliband SM ’90


Rt. Hon. David Miliband SM ’90 receives the 2021 Robert A. Muh Alumni Award

His award lecture proposes an "accountability agenda" to restore respect for human rights, democratic norms, and the rights of civilians in combat zones.


Salute to Bilingual Students | Class of 2021

Profiles of 31 of the outstanding MIT 2021 graduates who focused deeply on both humanistic and sci/tech fields reflect on their MIT education — and their visions for the future.


Endangered Languages

Half the planet’s 6,000 spoken languages are now in danger of extinction. Why do we care so much about languages most of humanity will never hear?

Sign: Land of the Wanpanoag


Native American and Indigenous scholarship, education, and creativity in MIT's humanistic fields

This collection highlights works by and about Indigenous and Native American faculty, students, alumni, and visiting scholars in the humanities, arts, and social science fields in the MIT SHASS community. 

portrait of Natasha Jogkelar


A Framework for Understanding the World: Natasha Joglekar '21

A CS + Biology major with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, Joglekar found that her WGS coursework gave her powerful insight into the human factors that drive so many societal outcomes. “WGS studies helped give me a framework for understanding the world," she says, "in the same way my Physics and Math classes did."

detail, Hurricane Hattie Belize; painting by 'Pen' Delvin Cayetano, 1996. ©2018 Artists Rights Society


On planetary change and human health

MIT anthropologist Amy Moran-Thomas reflects on the deep connection between planetary and human well-being: “When I think of health now, I think of the disarray in bigger ecosystems and infrastructures that is also landing in human bodies.”



Announcing the 2021 Levitan Teaching Award Winners

The James A. and Ruth Levitan Teaching Award, given annually by the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, honors the superlative teaching staff across the School. About the award, Dean Nobles says, "This prize honors instructors in our School who have demonstrated outstanding success in teaching our undergraduate and graduate students. These great educators, who are nominated by students themselves, represent the very best academic leadership in the School."

MIT Hayden Library at dusk


MIT SHASS names 36 extraordinary students as 2021 Burchard Scholars

The undergraduates selected for the competitive program enjoy a seminar series and conversations over dinners with distinguished faculty.

Portrait, Caroline White Nockleby, PhD student at MIT


Caroline White-Nockleby, PhD student in MIT HASTS

Research to surface and address the socio-environmental complexities of renewable energy: "Renewables must be collected, stored, and transported; they require financing, metals extraction, and the processing of decommissioned materials. Energy access, mining, and waste deposition are material, geographically situated dynamics. Not everyone stands to benefit equally from renewable energy's potentials, and not everyone will be equally exposed to its socioenvironmental impacts."

illustration by Manzel Bowman, woman's head in profile


Inhabiting Science Fiction

Students in 21L.434 / "21st Century Science Fiction," taught by Assistant Professor Laura Finch, discover that the world-building of science fiction is not only a way to envision possible futures, but a powerful way to think about the world we currently inhabit.

Photo of Nadia Christidi at work


Imaginative Capacities | Nadia Christidi, PhD Student in MIT HASTS

Christidi focuses on three cities and the role that the arts play in the ability of planning institutions to imagine, plan, and set policy for possible futures: "I think we are going to need a lot of imagination going forward," she says. "As climate change gets underway, we’re seeing a lot more emphasis on adaptation —  and imagination is key to adapting to a set of totally different circumstances."

portrait of Anjali Nambrath '21


Anjali Nambrath '21 | Physics/Math + French & Theater

Nambrath says learning to see the world through a wide variety of lenses is crucial to success in her field. In physics, she explains, “the whole point is to find new ways of looking at the world. I think it’s super important as a human being to push the boundaries of knowledge, to find out more.”

American flag and stethoscope


What has the pandemic revealed about the U.S. healthcare system — and what needs to change?

Seven MIT scholars see lessons and opportunities for U.S. healthcare

Patricia Saulis, Director, Maliseet Conservation Council


Two-Eyed Seeing

In this interview, Patricia Saulis, MLK Visiting Scholar and Executive Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, discusses drawing on both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to develop more sustainable ways to live on the planet.

globe and coronavirus form


For the pandemic, MIT History opens a course to the public via a free, live webinar format.

Hundreds from around the world responded to the opportunity and joined MIT students in the weekly class, "History of Now: Plagues and Pandemic." The experimental webinar format also greatly expanded the scope of expertise available to students, bringing in speakers from fields ranging from microbial biology to economics.

Sign for Choctaw Nation


MIT composer Charles Shadle releases a new work, "Choctaw Animals," honoring his Native American heritage.

Shadle is arguably the most visible living classical composer in the Choctaw tribe, and he does not want to be the last. Thinking of young Choctaw children in rural communities he says, “To some extent, I can say, you could be a composer too. Your voice can be heard.”

portrait of In Song Kim, MIT Political Scientist


In Song Kim receives the 2021 Levitan Prize

New project by the inventor of will advance trade theory and the ability of citizens to influence public policy-making.


portrait of economist Clare Balboni


Clare Balboni | On Economics, Environment, and Policy

"There is tremendous and growing interest in environmental questions within economics. Economic models and methods can help to enhance our understanding of how to balance the imperative for continued growth in prosperity and well-being — particularly for the world’s poorest — with the need to mitigate and adapt to the environmental externalities that this growth creates." 

March for Science, signs


Scientists as engaged citizens 

In a new intersectional class from MIT Women's and Gender Studies, (WGS.160/STS.021) students explore how STEM researchers bring their knowledge to bear on behalf of major societal and global issues.

Yellow Marigold


The Bluest Eye turns 50

Commentary by MIT Professor Sandy Alexandre on Toni Morrison's debut novel: "Morrison’s exquisite language has always given her readers a variety of ways, routes, and turns of phrase to understand the world, so perhaps it’s no surprise that she has rendered something like 'structural racism' comprehensible."

portrait of Judith Thomson


Judith Jarvis Thomson 1929-2020

The influential MIT philosopher was among the most significant moral philosophers of our time, and "the atomic ice-breaker for women in philosophy."

T-shirt with text: Let My People Vote


3 Questions: Ariel White on voter rights and re-enfranchisement

"The problems in the Florida case have drawn our attention to how widespread, how life-disrupting, and how racially-disparate the experience of legal debt is for people who have passed through the criminal legal system."

Portrait of Nasir Almasri '21


Profile | Nasir Almasri '21

Political science PhD candidate studies conflicts that emerge at the intersection of politics and religious traditions, with a focus on humanizing those involved.

detail, electoral map of counties in the U.S.


3 Questions: Adam Berinsky on the responsibilities of political leadership and how to assess election polls

"It's the job of our leaders to stand up and challenge unsubstantiated rumors and outright falsehoods. Politicians have tremendous power to lead and to shape information, and voters need to remember this when they head to the polls — in this and every election."

Door to MIT Building 10


Making A Just Society

Resources from the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. The Making A Just Society websection includes these categories: Research; Books; the MIT & Slavery Project; Indigenous Peoples; Undergraduate Courses; Free Online MIT Courses; Other MIT Resources; and Elective Affinities, relevant resources beyond MIT.  

Annaul Olin and family


Saving Iñupiaq: Annauk Denise Olin

Olin, a graduate student in linguistics, is working to help her Alaska Native community preserve their language and navigate the severe impacts of climate change on their coastal village. 

Phi Beta Kappa Key


115 graduating MIT seniors inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society

A remarkable cohort of graduating seniors in the Class of 2020 were honored for excellence in the liberal arts.

Planet Earth


Solving Climate | Humanistic Perspectives from MIT

In this ongoing series, MIT faculty, students, and alumni in the humanistic fields share perspectives that are significant for solving the economic, political, ethical, and social dimensions of climate change.  

matches burning, interrupted


Research + Resources for the Pandemic

Research and commentary from the MIT SHASS faculty and graduate students to inform policy and increase public understanding about the complex pandemic landscape. Content areas include the impacts of the pandemic on healthcare, the economy, education, the 2020 elections, daily life, and democracy. There is also a channel with music and other creative works that offer contemplative space, meaning, and uplift.

Man in pandemic mask


Series | The Meanings of Masks

As The Washington Post has reported, "at the heart of the dismal US coronavirus response" is a "fraught relationship with masks." In this series of short commentaries, MIT faculty delve into the historic, creative, and cultural meanings of masks, offering new ways to think about, appreciate, and practice protective masking — currently a primary way to save lives and to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

MIT Literature Professor Stephanie Ann Framptom


Persona: Masks in the Graeco-Roman World | Stephanie Ann Frampton

"In Latin, one of the words for mask is persona, thought to have meant 'something through which sound passes' (per- 'through,” sono 'to make a sound')... Even in the time of Cicero, persona was already being used to describe the 'part' or 'character that one sustains in the world' — in other words, the role or roles we play in society."

Venetian carnival mask


Venetian Masks | Jeffrey S. Ravel

Masks for Carnival — and for finessing an archaic political order: "By the eighteenth-century in Venice, people had grown accustomed to wearing masks in public perpetually, not for health reasons but for social and cultural ones. Furthermore, the Venetian state actually required its citizens and visitors to the Republic to don masks in many public spaces."

portrait, E. Catherine Clark, MIT history professor


The Masks of Empire, Art, Politics, and War | Catherine Clark

"Ultimately, history reminds us that masks can produce meaning whether they sit on our faces or our kitchen tables."

Yuya Mask, Noh Theater


The expressive power of masks | Sara Brown

MIT professor and theater designer on masks as archetypes, protection, the performance of self, and care for others

Prof Buyandelger in a protective mask


Masks can reveal new possibilities
Manduhai Buyandelger | Anthropology

"In shamanic rituals and in 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." — Manduhai Buyandelger, MIT Associate Professor of Anthropology

Portrait of MIT Historian Emma Teng


The Mask as Public Spiritedness - 公德心
Emma Teng | History

"Norms in East Asian countries support the notion that 'doing something for the community good is good for me also.' It would be unthinkable to discuss sacrificing older people to the pandemic using a cost-benefit analysis. It is also considered a social responsibility to do one’s part in controlling the pandemic to ensure that schools remain open for the younger generation."

Protest Mask: I Can't Breathe


A collective cry for justice | Graham M. Jones

"The mask is one of the most important human artifacts in all of anthropology. It is a tool of transformation that allows its wearers to transcend themselves, taking on timeless roles in ritual dramas, and as actors in a broader social drama."

A Minecraft skin


The mask is a badge of honor | Eric Klopfer
Comparative Media Studies

"In this pandemic era, what a mask really says is, ‘I care about YOU.’ The mask indicates that you are protecting the health of others during a crisis."

Melissa Nobles, Professor of Political Science at MIT, Chancellor of MIT


Unearthing the stories of yesterday’s George Floyds

"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." — Melissa Nobles, Professor of Political Science; MIT Chancellor 2021 - ; Kenan Sahin Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences 2015-2021


Professors Heather Hendershot and Marah Gubar discuss CNN/Sesame Street Town Halls for children on the pandemic, racism

"I'm interested in thinking about the town halls as media events and, more specifically, as political media events. Cable news is so polarized right now, and when you deal with kids and anything with political dimensions, it’s sort of inherently a hot potato situation."

photograph of Louis Kampf


Louis Kampf, distinguished professor emeritus of literature and women's and gender studies, dies at 91

Brilliant scholar, progressive activist, educational innovator, jazz connoisseur, Kampf is remembered as, above all, an unsurpassed friend. He leaves behind an enormous number of people who deeply miss him and will carry his memory into the future.

columns and laurel bramch


MIT SHASS welcomes new faculty.

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences warmly welcomes six new professors to the MIT community. They arrive with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research, which include technology and identity; imperial and modern China; musical ensembles; immigration and voting law;  cyber warfare; and the history of environmental management.

portrait of Professor Heather Hendershot


3 Questions: Heather Hendershot on media coverage of the pandemic

MIT comparative media expert discusses the stark differences in pandemic reporting and coverage across US media platforms.

portrait of Professor Sandy Alexandre


Words + Words + Words

Sandy Alexandre, Associate Professor of Literature, honors and thanks all of the justice-seeking words that came before our 2020 ones.

Portrait of Stephen Morris, Peter Diamond Professor of Economics at MIT


Stephen Morris named the inaugural Peter A. Diamond Professor of Economics

MIT Department of Economics establishes new professorship honoring Institute Professor and Nobel Laureate.

photo of Sandy Alexandre, MIT Professor of Literature


3Q with Sandy Alexandre: On the literary roots of many technological innovations

In 2019, Alexandre was awarded a prestigious Bose Research Grant, which supports her study of the under-explored phenomenon of ideas that first appear in speculative fiction becoming technological and social reality.  

detail, data visualization


Course Profile: Data and Society

A new course in the Computing and Society Concentration, taught by Eden Medina and Sarah Williams, engages MIT students in the ethics and societal implications of data. 

portrait of MIT anthropologist Amah Edoh


MIT Anthropologist Amah Edoh receives Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

This Institute-wide award is given every year to an MIT faculty member, recognizing an “exceptional interest and ability in the instruction of undergraduates.” It is the only teaching award in which the nomination and selection of the recipients is done entirely by students.  

Apple - Orange combination


Salute to Seniors | Class of 2020

35 of the many outstanding MIT 2020 students who have focused on both humanistic and scientific/technical fields reflect on their MIT education — and their visions for the future.

Kathryn Tso '22


Kathryn Tso ’22 | History + Materials Science


Tso, who is earning a double major in history and in materials science, finds that materials science enables her to explore environmental chemistry and issues related to waste and pollution, while history provides her with context — revealing the interplay of technology with society and illuminating the key roles that government often plays.

photo of Kathryn Jiang ' 20


Kathryn Jiang ’20 | Literature + Mathematics

“Literature and math both try to explain how the world works; literature through stories and math through patterns," and these different perspectives are needed to solve today’s complex problems. “So much of this world is messy," Jiang says, "and MIT’s humanistic subjects give you a way to think about messy data, qualitative data. That’s really valuable.”

portrait of Claudia Chen


Claudia Chen ’20 | Comparative Media Studies + MechE

“As a MechE student, I think about technical solutions to our world’s biggest problems. As a CMS student, I think about the effects and implications these technical solutions have on our society and our media ecosystems."

portrait of Talia Khan '20


Talia Khan '20 | Materials Science + Music

“When I was looking for a university, I wanted one with access to top-quality music teachers and top-quality science. MIT really fit the bill. At MIT, we have the same quality of music education as conservatories, and you also have the rest of the MIT education.”

portrait of Thiago Medaglia


KSJ Fellow Thiago Medaglia on science journalism for a world in crisis

"As an environmental journalist, I have a deep connection with the natural world. I've also learned that it is essential to connect with people. As a reporter, you learn that fighting climate change includes informing the public about harmful policies and practices by governments and corporations."

portrait of Parrish Bergquist '19


Parrish Bergquist '19 | Civic Opinion

"The political challenges of addressing climate change are at least as thorny as the technological challenges, though in different ways."

painting, 17th century Dutch merchant ships


Anne McCants | Clues from climate change in history

How, in the nadir of the Little Ice Age, did the Dutch create a Golden Age? "History shows that not everywhere fares equally poorly when faced with climatic stresses. Open-access societies — ones that tolerate a diversity of views and do not restrict agency to a preordained elite — have proved more innovative and resilient than less-open ones."

hand drawing wind turbines


Kieran Setiya | The ethics of climate change

"Almost anyone engaged with global issues of human well-being, the distribution of resources, or the future of society is doing moral philosophy. Even the most technocratic assessment of costs and benefits makes assumptions about the value of human life and the demands of justice."

photo of Adam Berinsky


3Q with political scientist Adam Berinsky
Impact of the pandemic on U.S. political life

"As they do in wartime "people are willing to give the government broader latitude, even to curtail civil liberties, to address this pandemic crisis. But this effect is also short-lived. People are willing to give up some civil liberties for months, but not years."

Portrait of Professor Amy Moran-Thomas


Amy Moran-Thomas receives the 2020 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

The award will support her in-progress book, Mine: A Family History of Place, Race, and Planetary Health, which will "excavate the cultural histories and everyday social fabrics behind the deep sedimentation of American generational identities and fossil fuel legacies.”

portrait of Prof Charles Stewart III


3Q with Charles Stewart III: How to make the November 2020 elections safe and secure

MIT-SHASS News "Will the November 2020 election be delayed? The answer is, 'no.' There is no statutory or constitutional authority to do that. Even if the asteroids are raining on our heads and the zombies are roaming the streets on November 3, we will be voting."

photo of Jeffrey E Harris - economist and physician


3Q: A doctor’s view from the front lines

SHASS News: Physician and MIT economist Jeffrey E. Harris shares insights on healthcare during the Covid-19 pandemic and the vital role of telehealth.

Kepler - all planets


Charlotte Minsky '20 | History/CS + Planetary Science

Studying science has made her a better historian, Minsky says. And studying history has made her a better scientist.


Computing and AI: Humanistic Perspectives from MIT

"With a sense of promise and urgency, we are embarked at MIT on an accelerated effort to more fully integrate the humanistic and technical forms of discovery in our curriculum and research, in our institutional structure, and in our habits of mind and action."

Christine Soh '20, computer science and linguistics


Christine Soh '20 | CS/Engineering + Linguistics

With her dual degrees, Soh is prepared to make new tools in computational linguistics. Potential applications include improving speech recognition software and making machine-produced speech sound more natural.


38 MIT students selected as 2020 Burchard Scholars

The selective Burchard Scholars program recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and academic excellence in some aspect of the humanistic fields — the humanities, arts, and social sciences — as well as in the STEM fields. 

Milo and Marion, ethics of technology at MIT


3Q with Marion Boulicault and Milo Phillips-Brown
on integrating ethics into a technical curriculum

"The approach we are piloting at MIT is teaching ethics as a set of skills (what Aristotle would call techné). If we’re going to make a difference in whether our students make things ethically and responsibly, they need ethical skills that they can apply to their own work."

Portrait of MIT Professor Kenda Mutongi


3Q with historian Kenda Mutongi
On Africa, women, power — and human decency

"Lately I have been trying to think of African history from the perspective of goodness and basic human decency. Of course, conflicts exist, and do a great deal of damage in our lives, and we must confront them — but we must also allow ourselves to appreciate basic goodness and kindness when we see it."  

Detail, Delacroix painting, Liberty guiding the people


How to Stage a Revolution: History 21H.001

MIT history class explores the roots and complexities of revolutions across the globe. From early printing presses to changing fuel sources to the reach of global social media, the technological contexts of revolutions are intrinsic to understanding them.


3Q with leading climate journalists Kendra Pierre-Louis SM'16 and Lisa Song SM'09

Insights on effective climate communications from two of the leading climate journalists in the U.S., both alumna of our Graduate Program in Science Writing 

Timothy Loh, MIT doctoral student


Meet Timothy Loh, doctoral student in the MIT HASTS program

“MIT is the best place to be an anthropologist studying issues of science and technology. It’s a place where we’re able to think deeply and critically about how scientific knowledge and authority is constructed."

MIT Buiding 4 and Killian Court


MIT ranked No.1 worldwide for the Social Science fields for 2020

Our social structures, systems of governance, and means of communication demand crucial examination, both historically and predictively," says Dean Melissa Nobles. "MIT’s scholars make vital contributions to the social science fields, and also prepare students in both humanistic and technical programs to understand the larger context of the world in which they’re living.”

MIT Columns from Building 10


MIT ranked No.1 worldwide for Economics and Business for 2020

Times Higher Education awards top honors to fields in MIT SHASS and MIT Sloan for the second year in a row. 

Leo Marx, MIT Professor Emeritus


Celebrating Leo Marx on his 100th birthday

Over 40 years, the influential historian helped build MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society into a world leader in the field.

Anthropology and Studio Art Class


The Technology of Enchantment

In a new Anthropology + Studio Art maker class, MIT students investigate the human dimensions of interacting with technologies.

Nobel Prize medal for Economics Sciences


MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee win the Nobel Prize

Duflo and Banerjee, whose work has helped transform poverty alleviation, are co-winners of the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, along with another co-winner, Harvard University economist Michael Kremer. 

Detail, a constructed language


How to Construct a Language | Linguistics 24.917

MIT students are inventing constructed languages — or "conlangs" — in a maker-class that uses linguistics, the science of language, to supply the necessary building blocks.

MIT political scientist Ariel White


3Q: Ariel White on the impact of incarceration on voting

"The story here is not just about whether people are legally allowed to vote, but about whether they are practically able to vote, whether they know they're allowed to vote, and whether they think they have any reason to do so."

Marc Aidinoff


Meet Marc Aidinoff, PhD candidate

"What does it mean when civil rights become about access to computers and the Internet? When lack of Internet access is considered a form of poverty? These questions were getting under my skin. I wanted to know how social and economic policy were tied to changing ideas about technology."

Elizabeth Wood


3Q with historian and Russia expert Elizabeth Wood

How do we understand Russia’s multi-layered interference in the 2016 Elections? MIT historian and Russia expert Elizabeth Wood analyzes Russia’s motives.


MIT Economist Parag Pathak honored by Science News

Pathak, the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics at MIT, has been named by Science News as one of 10 early- and mid-career scientists with great potential to shape the future of their field.

Carolyn Stein, MIT Economics doctoral candidate


Meet Carolyn Stein: MIT Economics PhD student researches the economics of science

"Scientists are often motivated by factors other than wages, but many insights from labor economics still help us understand how the field of science functions."


Five MIT SHASS faculty members receive tenure

Dean Melissa Nobles and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are delighted to announce that five members of the MIT SHASS faculty have received tenure. Their extensive research and writing investigates a wide variety of topics, from the history of western thought to electoral behavior in low-income areas.


Seven new faculty members join MIT SHASS

Dean Melissa Nobles and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are pleased to welcome the newest members of the MIT SHASS faculty. They come with diverse and broad research interests, from environmental economics to language formation to the history of the Chernobyl disaster.


3 Questions: Media historian Heather Hendershot on U.S. political discourse

Media historian and expert on conservatism discusses the current state of political discourse and media in the U.S.


Communities in the Cloud

Anthropology PhD student Steven Gonzalez studies the Cloud from within.

MITProfessor David Singer


David Singer named Head of MIT Political Science

“David’s well-deserved reputation for dedication and integrity, as well as his research and teaching focus, and his depth of experience in Institute affairs make him remarkably well suited for this new leadership role.” — Dean Melissa Nobles


2019 Levitan Teaching Award Recipients

Six MIT SHASS faculty members honored for their dedication and passion

Ankita Reddy '19


Ankita Reddy '19 | Anthropology + Biology
Improving public health

Culturally aware approaches lead to more effective medical interventions.


76 MIT seniors inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society

PBK honors the nation’s most outstanding undergraduate students for excellence in the liberal arts, which include the humanities and the natural and social science fields. Only 10 percent of higher education institutions have PBK chapters, and fewer than 10 percent of students at those institutions are selected for membership.

Dwaipayan Banerjee receives 2019 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

$29,500 award will support research for "A Counter History of Computing in India."

David Mindell

3 Questions: Historian/engineer David Mindell on human-centered robotics and bilingual education

David A. Mindell is the Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing (in MIT-SHASS), a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics (in MIT Engineering), and the Co-founder and CEO of Humatics Corporation.

At historic MIT workshop, anthropologists and stakeholders plan a disciplinary model for Open Access publishing

Heather Paxson, interim head of MIT Anthropology, explains the vision and challenges for the emerging plan.

Student in MIT class on climate issues

Free, MIT Climate-Related Humanistic Course Materials at MIT OpenCourseWare

Understand and help solve the economic, social, and political dimensions of climate change. Explore climate-related courses from the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.


Beyond numbers

In STS.047 ("Quantifying People"), MIT students take a deep dive into data history — focusing on the history of the quest to understand human society scientifically.

MISTI-Australia expands horizons, one adventure at a time

Exploring new cultures and conserve the Great Barrier Reef ​

MIT T-shirt

MIT Program in Digital Humanities launched with 1.3M Mellon grant

New lab applies computational tools to humanistic research — and builds a community fluent in both languages. 

Cornerstone donation sparks bright future for MISTI's MIT-Israel

In the first major step toward solidifying a future for MISTI’s MIT-Israel program, Arthur J. Samberg SB ‘62 has made a 1 million dollar donation. The gift is a foundational move in making sure the program — a critical bridge between MIT and Israel for over a decade — will be able to continue supporting student and faculty work for years to come.

AI information network


Ethics, Computing, and AI | Perspectives from MIT

To support ongoing planning for the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, Dean Melissa Nobles invited faculty from all five MIT schools to offer perspectives on the societal and ethical dimensions of emerging technologies. This series presents the resulting commentaries — practical, inspiring, concerned, and clear-eyed views from an optimistic community deeply engaged with one of the most consequential questions of our time.

MIT student Ivy Li

Isabelle de Courtivron Writing Prize Announces 2019 Winners

The judges note that each of this year’s entries is profoundly moving.

Professor David Pesetsky

3 Questions: David Pesetsky on the field of linguistics

Solving language puzzles, linguists shed light on deep properties of the human mind, on language acquisition in children, on machine learning, social interactions, and meaning itself. David Pesetsky, an internationally acclaimed linguistic scholar, is the Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics at MIT.

The Building Blocks of Linguistics

A brisk overview of the field of linguistics; a quiz to make your own personal dialect map; and the top ten ways that linguists contribute to making a better world.

Digital History Seminar Series | Three Presentations

“This seminar series is part of our ongoing exploration of computational methods and digital media for research and teaching in the history field," said Professor Jeffrey Ravel Head of MIT History. Writ large, this new series is a space for us to reflect on our engagement with the new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing."

Historian William J. Turkel


Computation and the practice of 21st-century history

In a talk at MIT, Professor William J. Turkel, PhD'04, described the techniques and tools he uses in his study of global21st-century history.

Historian Juliette Levy


Digital Zombies and Virtual Reality: Juliette Levy on history in the digital classroom

"Weekly podcasts, a virtual reality experience involving Che Guevara, and a learning game with zombies are among the digital platforms a history professor has used to enhance her teaching and make the subject engaging, especially for large classes of hundreds of students."


Talk by Cameron Blevins launches MIT Digital History Seminar Series

“This seminar series is part of our ongoing exploration of computational methods and digital media for research and teaching in the history field. Writ large, this new series is a space for us to reflect on our engagement with the new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing" — Jeffrey Ravel, head of MIT History

Panelists at Ethics and AI event


Making the path to ethical, socially beneficial AI

At celebration for the new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, leaders from government, philanthropy, academia, and industry say collaboration is the key.

Melissa Nobles, speaking at Hello World Celebration


Coda | Computing for the People: Ethics and AI

A post-panel conversation  

Hello World, Hello MIT emblem


Video Roundup | Selections from "Hello World, Hello MIT."

A celebration of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing

Ivy Li '20

Picturing The Faerie Queene

Ivy Li '20 adapts Edmund Spenser's epic poem into a graphic comic.

Ken Urban MIT playwright


3 Questions with MIT playwright Ken Urban
On theater, science, and the Playwright's Lab

"Understanding others is crucial right now. Of course, understanding is not the same as forgiving or ignoring conflict. But you cannot write convincingly until you care about people who are different from you. That’s what being a playwright has taught me." 

Abby Everett Jaques


Abby Everett Jaques, PhD '18, on ethical AI by design

Jaques, an MIT Philosophy postdoctoral associate, is bringing the tools of philosophy to ethical questions related to information technologies.  

36 MIT students selected as 2019 Burchard Scholars

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is proud to announce the 36 extraordinary sophomores and junior students selected as the 2019 class of Burchard Scholars.

sound wave and music tech gear


Music technology accelerates at MIT

An increasingly popular program is drawing students eager to build — and use — the next generation of tools for making music.

spheres of justice - chalk on blackboard


Looking at justice through the lens of political theory

In Bernardo Zacka's 17.01 class, MIT students explore human values and competing theories of the just society

3 Questions with M. Amah Edoh
On Africa and Innovation

"Africa today is seen as the future of global innovation and entrepreneurship in areas from technology to the arts. Important questions about Africa’s new visibility include: Who is recognized as an expert? What is seen as innovative, and what knowledge is considered worth carrying forward? Who gets to be the face of this 'New Africa'?"

laughing room poster


Inside The Laughing Room

An AI-powered laugh track amuses and unsettles in interactive installation. A work by Jonny Sun in collaboration with Hannah Davis, Christopher Sun, and MIT associate professor of literature Stephanie Frampton, head of the ARTificial Intelligence project  

US Map - made of people


Election Insights 2018
Research-based perspectives from MIT

Commentaries on key issues along with a lively playlist—Music for the Midterms—and an Election Booklist of works selected by faculty as illuminating for this moment in American history.

MIT ranked No.2 university worldwide for Arts and Humanities - 2019

MIT has been rated No.2 worldwide in the "Arts and Humanities" subject category in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The ranking is based on an evaluation of the disciplines located in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences — and in the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. 

MIT ranked No. 1 university worldwide for Economics and Business - 2019

The Times Higher Education World University Ranking system determines a university’s quality in a given subject area by examining five areas: the learning environment; the volume, income, and reputation of its research; the influence of its citations in other research; the international outlook of its staff, students, and research; and its knowledge transfer to various industries.

Sylvain Bromberger, MIT professor emeritus

Sylvain Bromberger, philosopher of language and science, dies at 94

"Sylvain made enduring contributions to philosophy and linguistics, and his colleagues and students were frequent beneficiaries of his kindness and intellectual generosity. He had an amazing life in so many ways, and MIT is all the better for having been a part of it.” 

Group photo at KSJ anniversary celebration

KSJ at MIT celebrates 35th anniversary and launches a new award

On September 23, 2018 MIT’s Knight Science Journalism program honored its founder, Victor McElheny, launched a new science journalism award that bears his name, and celebrated 35 years as one of journalism’s preeminent fellowship programs. 

Thomas Piketty


At MIT, Thomas Piketty calls for policies to reduce worldwide inequalities

Globalization and the expanding ranks of the educational elite have contributed to the rise in inequality worldwide, but political policy changes can impact these trends, French economist Thomas Piketty told a packed house at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium on Tuesday, July 31.

Three new faculty members join MIT SHASS

Dean Melissa Nobles and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are pleased to welcome the newest members of the MIT SHASS faculty. They come with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research, which include the legacies of the Holocaust, the rise of "the Girl" as an object of global investment, and public service in the context of moral agency.

detail of Piketty chart

Q&A with economist Thomas Piketty
On globalization and growing inequality

"Globalization today is at a crossroad. It is confronted with major challenges, including rising inequality and global warming. At the same time there is a lot of skepticism about what governments can do to regulate global capitalism. Looking back at previous globalization episodes is critical, first to clarify the specificities of our time." — Thomas Piketty

Q&A with historian Anne McCants
About the World Economic History Congress at MIT

"This strikes me as exactly the moment when the work of economic historians is of greatest importance. We have something useful to say about what the disruptions of previous 'waves of globalization' have looked like and how social and political communities have resolved the disruptions of those episodes."

Sandra Rodriguez


Hacking virtual reality | CMS.339

Contributing to a culture of pioneers, MIT students in "Virtual Reality and Immersive Media Production" explore the technical, philosophical, and artful dimensions of VR.

MIT economist Jerry Allen Hausman elected to the British Academy

The UK's national academy for the humanities and social sciences honors Professor Hausman for his distinguished work in the field of economics.

polar bear and logic equations


The moral calculus of climate change

In a mathy philosophy class, MIT students explore the risks, probable outcomes, and ethical implications of living in a warming world.

MIT Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 77 students from the Class of 2018

New members achieved exceptional excellence in both the humanities and science scholarship.


The Task of History

MIT historians discuss the power of historical knowledge to help make a better world.

CS+HASS SuperUROP debuts with nine research projects

In yearlong program MIT undergraduates apply computer science to research in humanities, arts, and social science fields.

Professor Craig Steven Wilder and Dean Melissa Nobles


3Q Interview with Dean Nobles, Professor Wilder

"The MIT community has the opportunity to be involved in this endeavor in real time, learning from the emerging findings. and making informed suggestions to the leadership about potential responses." — Dean Melissa Nobles

2018 SHASS Levitan Teaching Awards announced

Dean Nobles has announced the recipients of the 2018 James A. and Ruth Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Warmest congratulations to these six educators and colleagues, who represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 

MIT Historian Caley Horan

Q&A with historian Caley Horan
On innovation, risk-taking, and cultural transformation

Assistant Professor Caley Horan is an historian of the U.S. interested in the cultural and intellectual transformations of the post-WWII era. SHASS Communications spoke with her about her book manuscript, Actuarial Age, which explores the cultural life of insurance and the role of risk-based thinking in shaping American institutions and daily life during the second half of the twentieth century.

fake new emblem


MMA explores fake news and real gender issues

MIT’s Mens et Manus America (MMA) initiative shed light on two major issues on the political landscape — fake news and gender politics — during back-to-back events on April 17 and 18.


MIT and the Legacy of Slavery Project
Stories, Videos, Community Dialogue

“I believe the work of this class is important to the present — and to the future. Something I have always loved about the MIT community is that we seek, and we face, facts. What can history teach us now, as we work to invent the future? How can we make sure that the technologies we invent will contribute to making a better world for all?"   — L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT

Media and Resource Collection | MIT and the Legacy of Slavery

Collected stories, videos, media, websites, and other resources about the MIT and Legacy of Slavery project

Ryan Robinson '17

From blank verse to blockchain

The founder of a startup at the cutting edge of computer science, Ryan Robinson ’17 says that his MIT background in the humanities and engineering has helped him understand the human dimensions of the world’s greatest challenges.

Detail, Shepard Fairey Mural in Paris

Outstanding MIT students of French explore "Paris et la rue"

With Professor Bruno Perreau and local expert guides, MIT students discover behind-the-scenes Paris and the city’s storied streets during the 2018 January Scholars in France program.  


Analyzing US immigration policy

Experts cite immigration as an engine of U.S. success; lament the human damage being done by current policies, and see signs of hope.


Institute community explores initial findings from “MIT and Slavery” class.

Students in an undergraduate research course bring the Institute into national conversation about universities and the legacy of slavery. “I believe the work of this class is important to the present — and to the future,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “What can history teach us now, as we work to invent the future? How can we make sure that the technologies we invent will indeed contribute to making a better world for all?"

MIT Philosopher Justin Khoo


Applying philosophy for a better democracy

In a new philosophy class, MIT students explore how language affects censorship, dissent, lies, and propaganda.


Anthropologist Stephan Helmreich conducts fieldwork aboard the FLIP ship

As part of his ongoing research on how scientists think about the world, Helmreich wanted to know: What are the changing theories, models, and technologies that physical oceanographers use to apprehend and understand waves?

Q&A: Jay Scheib on theater, daring, and love

MIT theater professor directs award-winning rock musical; in December 2017, his "Bat out of Hell" won the London Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical.

Robin Wolfe Scheffler awarded 2018 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

Scheffler, the Leo Marx Career Development Professor in the History and Culture of Science and Technology, has been awarded the prestigious award that includes a $30,000 grant that will support his research into the factors that influenced the development of Boston’s booming biotech industry.

Q&A with Seth Mnookin
On the fallacy of “both sides” journalism

"American journalism is based on the principle of objectivity: journalists are supposed to be dispassionate about the subjects they cover. We’ve seen too many journalists confuse not taking sides with not calling out liars and frauds or giving too much credence to fringe or extreme views."

SHASS selects 36 MIT students as 2018 Burchard Scholars

The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering.


Bridging the gap between citizens and scientists

Alumni of the MIT SHASS Graduate Program in Science Writing inform the public about critical issues ranging from medical breakthroughs to climate change.

Professor Chris Capozzola

Christopher Capozzola named a Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs fellow

MIT historian one of nine fellows selected by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs to receive support for research under the project "The Living Legacy of the First World War."


SHASS announces 10 Research Fund recipients for 2018

The SHASS Research Fund supports research in the areas of humanities, arts, and social sciences that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. The School is pleased to announce ten recipients for 2018.

New era for MIT theater opens with Everybody, a morality play for our time

Everybody is a brand-new 2017 play based on the venerable 15th century English morality play, Everyman. As performed last week at MIT, Everybody at once updates a masterwork from the distant past, and represents the future — the great range of new arts opportunities that the new Building W97 is making possible at MIT.

MIT historian Craig Steven Wilder delivers 2017 Capps Lecture

Craig Steven Wilder, Barton L. Weller Professor of History, delivered the prestigious Walter H. Capps Memorial Lecture on Friday, November 3, 2017.

Welcoming We're Open sign

Mens et Manus America examines the rural American economy

Insights from four leaders working to revitalize rural areas

photograph of MIT economist Nancy Rose

Nancy Rose appointed department head of MIT Economics

Rose is not only a distinguished scholar, but also an accomplished public servant, having served in the US Department of Justice for two and a half years years.

Stefan Helmreich awarded 2017 Staley Prize

“Some people call this the Pulitzer Prize of anthropology. The prize is selected by an anonymous committee of scholars. It's a very competitive process, there are very intense debates, and this book emerged as a unanimous favorite.”

Mens et Manus America examines current U.S. tax reform issues.

MIT professors James Poterba and Michelle Hanlon provide a primer on some key issues and challenges.

Led by Jing Wang, the New Media Action Lab increases the impact of NGOs across China.

The lab bridges the digital gap to improve social welfare for underserved populations in rural and urban China.  

portrait of Edouard Louis


At MIT, author Édouard Louis examines the contexts for violence

The capacity to transform personal suffering into a meditation on the larger wounds society inflicts on the powerless and marginalized defines Louis’ literary voice.


Mens et Manus America examines data, technology, and election integrity

Various concerns about the security of U.S. elections have arisen over the past twenty years, some more significant that others. While many studies have shown that voter fraud, for instance, is vanishingly rare in the U.S., what about the state of electoral administration, lost votes, and cyber attacks? On Oct. 16, two experts teamed up at MIT to share insights from their research on what is and isn't working in America's electoral system.

portrait of MIT Professor Shigeru Miyagawa

Q&A with digital learning pioneer Shigeru Miyagawa
On interdisciplinary approaches to digital learning


"The MIT Office of Digital Learning (ODL) is actively reaching out to faculty across MIT to help them leverage digital learning to improve teaching and learning, and I am glad to be contributing to that."


Citizen Science and the Wild workshop illuminates the value of multidisciplinary research.

Convened by MIT historian Harriet Ritvo, the workshop drew an unusual variety of MIT experts together, including historians of science, anthropologists, scientists, and museum professionals. 

Entrance to W97 MIT Theater Building

The Next Act for MIT Theater

A warehouse at 345 Vassar Street has been converted into an ingenious 25,000-square-foot performing arts building for MIT and its flourishing Theater Arts program. The flexible space can accommodate diverse forms of stagecraft, productions, and new theater technologies.  

photograph of Thomas Derrah, actor

Remembering Thomas Derrah (1953-2017)

Renowned actor and beloved member of MIT Music and Theater Arts dies at 64


MIT named No. 2 university worldwide for the Arts and Humanities - 2018

At MIT, two schools — the School of Architecture and Planning, and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences — and several centers are home to the arts and humanities.

John Durant plans a new era for the MIT Museum

Bridging science, technology, the arts, humanities, and the social sciences MIT Museum Director John Durant makes plans to engage the public with a new purpose-driven museum space.


MIT Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 74 graduates of the Class of 2017

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, this year admitted 74 graduating seniors into the MIT chapter, Xi of Massachusetts.

Nine new faculty join MIT SHASS

Dean Melissa Nobles and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences are very pleased to welcome the newest members of the MIT SHASS faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research, which include counterfactual economic models, philosophy of mind, educational gaming, and global media.

Q&A with political theorist John Tirman
On immigration, collaboration, and the hidden costs of war

"It is remarkable that we do not measure the costs of war in any meaningful way. The costs come in many shapes and sizes: mortality and disability, loss of livelihoods and homes, displacement, the destruction of clean water resources and sanitation facilities, the disruption of education for children, ecological devastation, and many others. All wars produce these results, yet no country, including the United States, has the will to understand and calculate these costs."


"Imagination Off The Charts" debuts at MIT

A new documentary film, "Imagination Off the Charts: Jacob Collier Comes to MIT," highlights a Grammy-winning musician’s innovative relationship with MIT. The film debuts on Friday, Sept 8, Room 10-250, 7pm.

A.R. Gurney, playwright and author

A.R."Pete" Gurney, Jr., acclaimed playwright, author, and longtime MIT SHASS professor, dies at 86.

An MIT SHASS humanities and literature faculty member for 36 years, Gurney was known as an outstanding teacher and inspiring mentor.


Mens et Manus America examines the politics of misinformation

Exploring current U.S. social, political, and economic challenges: Professor Adam J. Berinsky joined Professor Ezra Zuckerman Sivan to share political science and sociological research about the impact of rumors and falsehoods on America's political process. Agustín Rayo, associate dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences moderated.


Breaking through gridlock: productive conversations in a polarized world

A Mens et Manus America conversation with Jason Jay. "We have to have conversations if we are going to effect change," said Jay, who outlined findings from his new book. "We change larger conversations by changing one conversation at a time."

Q&A with historian/engineer David Mindell
On human-centered robotics and innovation

“The new frontier is learning how to design the relationships between people, robots, and infrastructure...The new success of robots will depend on how well they situate into human environments; as in chess, the strongest players are often the combinations of human and machine. I increasingly see that the three critical elements are people, robots, and infrastructure — all interdependent."


Meet MIT's experts in Asian Security

MIT's Asian Security Studies faculty train the next generation of scholars and security policy analysts; counsel national security officials in the U.S. and abroad; and inform policy through publications and frequent contributions to public debates.


Walley and Boebel receive $195k NEH grant for the Exit Zero Project

Christine Walley, Professor of Anthropology, and MIT-based filmmaker Chris Boebel have been awarded a $195,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the digitization of archives and the Exit Zero Project website.

Samuel Rodarte, Jr.


Samuel Rodarte '13 | Aero-Astro + Latinx Studies + PoliSci
Shaping Public Policy in the Nation's Capital

With dual MIT degrees in engineering and humanities fields, and a social science minor, Samuel Rodarte '13 could have found a top job in almost any enterprise from startup to multinational corporation. Instead, he chose to join generations of alumni who have put their MIT skills to work shaping public policy in Washington, D.C.

Writing for a Wider Audience | April 25, 5:30pm

Video from an event with distinguished publishing professionals who discussed ways to shape academic scholarship into general literature. The panelists include leading literary agents, non-fiction trade book editors, a magazine editor, and an op-ed editor. Event sponsored by the Office of the Dean, MIT SHASS, and Kneerim & Williams, a literary agency with offices in Boston and New York.

Catherine Clark receives Mellon Fellowship

Catherine Clark has received the Mellon Fellowship for Assistant Professors at the Institute for Advanced Study, for 2017–2018.

Alan Lightman receives inaugural Humanism in Literature Award

The Humanist Hub names Lightman its first ever awardee for Humanism through Literature.

David Pesetsky honored by MIT Linguistics alums and colleagues

More than 100 faculty colleagues, current and former students, and guests gathered at the Stata Center on February 11, 2017 for a daylong linguistics workshop organized as a tribute to the research and teaching of MIT linguist David Pesetsky. Attendees came from as far away as Korea, Russia, and Turkey to honor Pesetsky, the Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and head of MIT's Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.


Mens et Manus America initiative launches with documentary film event

200 students and faculty attend kickoff event as SHASS and Sloan begin a non-partisan, research-based exploration of current U.S. social, political, economic challenges.

Junot Díaz inducted into American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the names of 14 new inductees, including Junot Díaz, a Pulitizer prize-winning author, and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT.


3 Questions with historian Malick Ghachen
On finding root causes: how history helps us solve today's issues

"One of the principal ways historians contribute to problem-solving work at MIT and elsewhere is by helping to identify what the real problem is in the first place. When we understand and articulate the roots and sources of a problem, we have a much better chance of actually solving it." 


The world as we think the world should be | Meet theater director Charlotte Brathwaite

Charlotte Brathwaite's theater works in response to today's culture of violence violence is inspired by James Baldwin's message of universal love: "If I love you," he said, "I have to make you conscious of the things you do not see."


At MIT, Arlie Hochschild discusses U.S. political divisions and finding common ground

The event centered on Hochschild's most recent book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (The New Press, September 2016).


Vivek Bald awarded the 2017 Levitan Prize in the Humanities and a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship

Associate Professor Vivek Bald of Comparative Media Studies/Writing has been awarded the 2017 Levitan Prize in the Humanities, a $30,000 research grant that will support his work on a film and a website documenting South Asian Muslims who immigrated to the United States during the 1890s-1940s, a period in which Asians were excluded from the country by law. Bald has also received a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship award for work on the same project.


MIT launches Election Data and Science Lab

The lab is dedicated to improving elections, using research, evidence, and analysis. Founded by Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the Lab will address multiple audiences of academic researchers, election practitioners, and the general public. It will serve a unique and independent role as it applies scientific principles to empirical questions about the administration of American elections. 


Election Insights 2016
12 research-based perspectives from MIT

The 2016 presidential election brought to the fore a number of political, economic, and cultural issues that scholars in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (MIT SHASS) think about deeply as part of their ongoing research. Here, 12 faculty members offer their perspectives on topics ranging from economic security to gender bias to the state of the U.S. electoral system itself. Follow links in each section for further discussion.

3 Questions with philosopher Kieran Setiya
How philosophy helps us address climate change

"Almost anyone engaged with global issues of human well-being, the distribution of resources, or the future of society is doing moral philosophy Even the most technocratic assessment of costs and benefits makes assumptions about the value of human life and the demands of justice....Making our ethics more explicit, being self-conscious about our principles and premises, improves our moral thinking. This is particularly true when the questions are ones of public policy."

3 Questions with political scientist Richard Nielsen 
How political science helps combat terrorism

Richard Nielsen is an assistant professor of political science at MIT SHASS who writes on international law, the political economy of human rights, political violence, and political methodology. His current book project, Deadly Clerics, explores why some Muslim clerics adopt the ideology of militant Jihad while most do not.


Song of the Human: A musical work inspired by Shigeru Miyagawa's research

New work by composer Pete M. Wyer draws inspiration from MIT linguistic scholar Shigeru Miyagawa's hypothesis on the origins of human language: "Human speech can be quite musical — there's pitch, rhythm, tone and dynamics — and if one removes words, what's left is the song of the human, and it's remarkably similar to birdsong." 


Edward Schiappa receives the Charles H. Woolbert Research Award

This "test of time" award from the National Communication Association recognizes work that has stimulated new conceptualizations of communication phenomena. 

Celebrating MIT Values

Students, faculty, and staff gathered on Nov 17 for "Uniting through Voice and Song," a program of music from many traditions, interwoven with reflections from faculty and students on the enduring MIT values.


At forum, MIT community tackles tough ethical questions of climate change

Why is it so hard for human beings to address climate change? What can motivate effective action?

Video + Stories for the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

Bengt Robert Holmström is a winner of the 2016 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, for his work on contract theory. He shares the prize wtih Oliver Hart, of Harvard University. This page consolidates all MIT stories about the prize, and videos from Nobel Week, including Holmström's lecture, and the Nobel Prize ceremony. Holmström is the Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, where he was head of the Economics Department from 2003-2006. He also holds a joint appointment in the MIT Sloan School of Management.

35 exceptional MIT students named Burchard Scholars for 2017

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is pleased to name 35 exceptional MIT undergraduates as Burchard Scholars for 2017. The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering.


What is Wild: 3Q with Historian Ritvo

Scientists, social scientists, and humanists explored the question during a workshop convened at MIT by Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History at MIT, and Sally Shuttleworth, professor of English literature at the University of Oxford. The "Call of the Wild" workshop featured presentations spanning disciplines from biology to astrophysics to history and literature.

Uniting through Voice and Song

In a time of political change, we celebrate the enduring values that unite us at MIT.


Professor Bengt Holmström wins 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded to MIT's Bengt Holmström and Harvard's Olvier Hart for their contributions to contract theory. Holmström is the Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics in the MIT SHASS Department of Economics, with a joint appointment in the Sloan School. 

Economist Bengt Holmström’s Nobel Prize win delights MIT colleagues

Bengt Holmström, the Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics at MIT, won a share of the 2016 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Oliver Hart, a professor and economist at Harvard University. Holmström, a faculty member in the Department of Economics in MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), holds a joint appointment in the MIT Sloan School of Management. Calling his work “pathbreaking,” Holmström’s colleagues laud the decision by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Scene at MIT: Stata-o'-Lantern

MIT Linguistics has celebrated the Halloween season with an annual pumpkin carving party since 2010, the year that Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine PhD ’14 dazzled his fellow scholars with this Stata-o’-lantern, created in the likeness of Building 32, MIT's Ray and Maria Stata Center, designed by architect Frank Gehry.


How healthy is the U.S. voting system?

Professor Charles Stewart III explains why the U.S. electoral system is strong and how MIT research is making the voting process even more seamless. This fall Stewart is leading a nationwide research project: on Election Day 2016, some 800 students from more than 25 universities, including MIT, will be collecting data at polling places across the country, as part of the "Polling Place of the Future" project to help further improve the nation's electoral process.


My Sister's Keeper builds community for black women at MIT

"Being a black woman at MIT is a very particular experience. To compare that with others going through that is very powerful and uplifting," said Itoro Atakpa, a senior in mechanical engineering. My Sister's Keeper supports black women students with social, professional, and mentoring relationships.


Via IDSS, Christia and Jadbabaie collaborate on study of sociopolitical change

With the new Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), MIT researchers in the social sciences have an official research platform for collaborating with peers in engineering and the sciences. In this project, social scientist Fotini Christia and civil engineer Ali Jadbabaie join forces to study the evolution of cultural norms and the dynamics of sociopolitical change.   


Hundreds of MIT students take the 2016 TOUR de SHASS

At MIT, every undergraduate receives a balanced STEM + SHASS education — with 25% of required classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. At the annual TOUR de SHASS academic fair, MIT students meet SHASS faculty, and discover the great diversity of classes in MIT's humanities, arts, and social sciences fields.


Bruno Perreau named to the French l’Ordre des Palmes académiques

Bruno Perreau, Cynthia L. Reed Professor of French Studies, has been selected as a member of the prestigious French Academic Palms (l’Ordre des Palmes académiques), the highest distinction for French professors, given in recognition of exemplary academic contributions to French education and culture.


J-PAL and MIT Economics launch D2P2 Lecture Series

With their “D2P2: Data. Decisions. Public Policy.” lecture series, J-PAL and MIT Economics aim to increase awareness of their work on campus and in Greater Boston.


Gallery | Photographs of MIT's Music Program

"Many scientists and engineers have a deep affinity for music. I suspect it’s because both science and engineering are rooted in trying to comprehend deep and hidden structures. The appeal of uncovering those hidden structures is part of what draws many who love science and engineering to music as well.”


New Faculty, Fall 2016

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of the MIT SHASS faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research, which include the effects of public policy on labor markets; the relationships between social inequality and technological use; stochastic choice; affect, environment, and subjectivity in media; ethical theory; and voting rights.


In the MIT History Workshopwhere building a printing press illuminates human systems

A group of MIT students briefly put away their cell phones this spring to concentrate on a much older information storage and retrieval device: the book. As students built a handset printing press — the kind of press on which the documents of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution were printed — they also gained insight into human systems. 


Levenson's Hunt for Vulcan is a finalist for Royal Society Science Book Prize

The most recent book by science writing professor Thomas Levenson, The Hunt for Vulcan, has been short-listed for the 2016 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, called "the Nobel Prize of science writing" by 2016 judge Bill Bryson.


MIT Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 72 graduating seniors

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, held its MIT induction ceremony on Thursday, June 2, admitting 72 graduating seniors into the MIT chapter, Xi of Massachusetts.


How can we design sociotechnical approaches for solving the social, economic, and political dimensions of global issues?

Professor Ethan Zuckerman asks, "Is it possible to get beyond both a naïve belief that the latest technology will solve social problems and a reaction that rubbishes any attempt to offer novel technical solutions as inappropriate, insensitive and misguided?"


9 SHASS faculty members awarded named professorships

MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to announce that nine members of its faculty have been awarded named professorships. These honored positions afford the faculty member additional support to pursue their research and develop their careers.

Honoring Juneteenth Independence Day

The earliest known public celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. took place on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas. Known as Juneteenth Independence Day, the event is now observed annually across the country as a day of celebration, reflection, remembrance of ancestors — and dedication to helping the nation fulfill its ideals.

MIT students produce second annual INSPIRE event

Founded and organized by MIT undergraduates, INSPIRE is the first ever national high school research competition in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Another MIT first! 


Cara Lai '16 cites MIT Literature as key to her preparation for medical practice.

Lai, who graduates with degrees in both Literature and Mechanical Engineering, is en route to Stanford University's School of Medicine. In this story she explains how MIT Literature provided her with tools critical to the practice of medicine.

Primary Factors

Interview with MIT political scientists Charles Stewart III and Devin Caughey on the 2016 Presidential primaries, and how the U.S. primary system developed. 

The MIT Campaign for a Better World

Announcing the new comprehensive campaign, MIT President L. Rafael Reif said, "Humanity faces urgent challenges — challenges whose solutions depend on marrying advanced technical and scientific capabilities with a deep understanding of the world's political, cultural, and economic complexities."

Discover the role of MIT's Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences fields in solving the economic, cultural, and political dimensions of global issues, and in problem-solving in collaboration with our STEM colleagues. 

Ken Oye, MIT Political Science

Q&A with political scientist Ken Oye
On the art of socio-technical collaboration

Over the course of 26 years at MIT, political scientist Kenneth Oye has discovered that collaborating with technologists is a very effective way to inform good policy on the issues he cares most about — from climate change to synthetic biology.


Remarks by Michel DeGraff, upon receiving the 2016 MIT Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award

Michel DeGraff, MIT-SHASS Professor of Linguistics, is a founding member of Haiti's newly created Haitian Creole Academy (Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen) and Director of the MIT-Haiti Initiative.


Harmonix co-founder Eran Egozy returns to MIT as Professor of the Practice of Music Technology

"Music exercises the artistic part of your brain, which encourages creativity, and that creativity can be applied to engineering and science," says Egozy, founder of Harmonix, one of the pre-eminent game development studios. "But students should take classes in the humanities and arts simply because they are rich and wonderful subjects. And ultimately, the truly great things happen in the world when people pursue the work they love."


MIT named No.1 university worldwide for Economics and Linguistics

MIT has been named the top university in the world for both Economics and Linguistics in the latest subject rankings from QS World University Rankings. This is the second consecutive year the MIT-SHASS Economics has topped the QS rankings, and the third consecutive year for MIT-SHASS Linguistics.


2016 SHASS Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Dean Nobles has announced the recipients of the 2016 James A. and Ruth Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Warmest congratulations to these nine educators and colleagues, who represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 

Knight Science Journalism Program Selects 2016-17 Fellows

The Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, the premier global fellowship program for journalists covering science, technology, health and the environment, is proud to announce that ten journalists, representing five countries, have been selected to join the program’s 34th class of fellows.

Regina Bateson wins 2016 Outstanding UROP Faculty Mentor Award

MIT political scientist Regina Bateson received the Institute-wide award for the high quality of her mentorship, supervision, and support; her availability to students; her guidance in research; and for her overall commitment to undergraduate research.

Global Studies and Languages announce winners of the 2016 Isabelle de Courtivron Prize

Awarded by MIT's Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies, the prize recognizes “student writing on topics related to immigrant, diaspora, bicultural, bilingual, and/or multi-racial experiences.” Pratyusha Kalluri was awarded First Prize for “Projection,” a futuristic story that raises questions about conformity, freedom, and surveillance. Aneesh Anand was awarded Second Prize for “Bhaasha,” a poetic exploration of his identity and an engaging, complex portrait of his family.


Ravel awarded grant from National Park Service for Visualizing Maritime History project

The National Park Service, with the Maritime Administration, announced the award of a $50,000 grant in support of the Visualizing Maritime History Project, led by Jeffrey Ravel, MIT SHASS Professor of History.

Adam Berinsky wins 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship

Adam Berinsky, MIT-SHASS Professor of Political Science, has been awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, a mid-career award that recognizes scholars and artists for their exceptional work.


Thomas Levenson wins 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship

Thomas Levenson, MIT SHASS Professor of Science Writing and Director of the Graduate Program in Science Writing, has been awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, a mid-career award that recognizes scholars and artists for their exceptional work.


Christine Walley and Chris Boebel on the Exit Zero Project

The Exit Zero Project, founded by Christine Walley and Chris Boebel, is a transmedia effort to tell the story of the traumatic effect of deindustrialization on Southeast Chicago. The three components of the project — book, documentary film, and in-progress interactive website — use family stories from the once-thriving steel mill communities of Southeast Chicago to consider the enduring impact of the loss of heavy industry and its role in widening class inequalities in the United States.


Christine Walley and Chris Boebel screen "Exit Zero" at MIT

"Exit Zero, An Industrial Family Story," is a film by by Christine Walley, MIT Associate Professor of Anthropology, and Chris Boebel, Manager of Multimedia Development, in the MIT Office of Digital Learning.  The screening takes place on Monday, April 25, in the Bartos Theater, E15-070. Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, will give an introduction. A reception and discussion with the filmmakers and David Autor, Professor of Economics, will follow. 


MIT celebrates dedication of the Morris and Sophie Chang Building

The Morris and Sophie Chang Building, also known as Building E52, was formally dedicated on March 3, 2016. Morris Chang, SB ’52, SM ’53, ME ’55, and his wife Sophie, provided a gift that allowed for the building’s restoration and renovation. The Deco-era building now houses the MIT Department of Economics, MIT Sloan offices, and an expanded conference center.

Alan Lightman receives Distinguished Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation

The first MIT professor to receive a joint appointment in the sciences and the humanities, Lightman currently serves as Professor of the Practice of the Humanities.


Patricia Tang named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow. I am truly humbled," said Tang. "As an ethnomusicologist, I love many aspects of my job, but there is nothing more gratifying than sharing my passion for African music with MIT students, and giving them tools to better understand music and its broader cultural contexts."

Philosopher Agustín Rayo named Associate Dean of MIT-SHASS

Agustín Rayo PhD ‘01, a professor of philosophy with deep roots in the MIT community, has been named associate dean for the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Rayo’s sense of connection to MIT began the moment he arrived on campus. “MIT changed my life,” he says. “I felt that it was where nerds like me belonged.”


Sampler: MIT research and education in African American and African Diaspora Studies

Courses, books, classes, programs, interviews, projects


Thomas Levenson receives the 2016 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

Levenson, professor of science writing and director of MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing, has been awarded the $30,000 research grant, which will support his investigation into the economic, cultural, and scientific history of an 18th century financial crisis known as the South Sea Bubble.


MIT economics students testing projects to reduce pollution in India

In India, industrial development and rapid urbanization have far outpaced efforts to protect the environment, resulting in levels of air and water pollution that pose major threats to human health. Working with the Tata Center, two MIT-SHASS economics doctoral students are addressing this challenge by generating incentives for polluters to change their ways.


The Well-Versed Institute: Poetry at MIT

“I would be a tolerable Mathematician,” wrote the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1796. More than two centuries later, MIT students are proving that mathematicians — not to mention engineers, programmers, physicists, economists, architects, and biologists — make more than tolerable poets as well.


Elizabeth Wood: The Roots of the Ukraine Crisis

In February 2014, Russian troops rolled into Crimea, the garden spot of Ukraine, and seized control, shocking the international community. MIT Professor Elizabeth A. Wood’s new book asks why Russia annexed this peninsula, plumbing the depths of history to explain Russia’s current posture on the world stage.


35 Burchard Scholars announced for 2016

The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. “The Burchard scholars are some of MIT’s liveliest undergraduates,” says Margery Resnick, professor of literature and director of the Burchard Scholars Program. “Selection is extremely competitive, and the students chosen are unafraid to wrestle with new ideas.”


Ten MIT-SHASS Research Fund recipients announced for 2016

The SHASS Research Fund supports research in the areas of humanities, arts, and social sciences that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. The School is pleased to announce ten recipients for 2016. 


MIT Political Science celebrates 50th years of rigor, relevance, and impact

Founded in the midst of the Vietnam War with the vision to use political science to make a difference in the lives of people, MIT’s Department of Political Science remains true to that vision today, according to alumni, faculty, and other speakers featured at the department’s 50th anniversary symposium on November 6, 2015.


The importance of native languages in education

This video provides a short overview of the science and data that show why children's native languages are necessary for learning to read and write — and everything else.


MIT named No. 1 university worldwide for social sciences

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings has named MIT the No. 1 university worldwide for social sciences for 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, and most recently 2021. The MIT SHASS subjects covered in the ranking include political science, comparative media studies, and anthropology, among others.


Voting Technology Project releases report: "Managing Polling Place Resources"

Just as the one-year count-down for the 2016 presidential election has begun, the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project (VTP) has released a new report — and a set of updated online tools — to help election officials better manage their polling place resources and provide a better experience for voters.  


MIT named among three top universities in the world for humanities, arts

The Times Higher Education 2015 World University Rankings has named MIT one of the top three universities worldwide for arts and humanities education. The three top ranked universities — Stanford University, Harvard University, and MIT — are closely aligned in the evaluation metrics.

Q&A with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf PhD '81
On making good policy; the politics of global issues

"The search for the answers to society’s most pressing questions always involves a political science dimension. Politics is the art of figuring out what you want to do, how you’re going to do it, and how you’re going to convince others to go along with what you want to do."


Deborah Fitzgerald receives lifetime achievement award from Agricultural History Society

Fitzgerald, Professor of the History of Technology, and former Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT-SHASS, has been honored for her research, mentorship, and leadership. In its award citation, the society notes that Fitzgerald's research has articulated "important themes in twentieth century America," and that she has been a central force in furthering the society, cultivating next-generation scholars."


Designing virtual identities for empowerment and social change

Associate Professor D. Fox Harrell awarded $1.35M in grant funding to advance research on at the intersection of social science and digital technology.


Melissa Nobles named SHASS dean

Nobles has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, effective July 1. Nobles, the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and former head of MIT’s Department of Political Science since 2013, is an accomplished scholar who has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1995.


Williams wins MacArthur "genius grant"

Economist who studies the economics of innovation wins $625,000 prize. Williams researches the causes and consequences of technological change in health care markets. Her broad goal is to shed light on the economics of innovation in a context — health care —that has important consequences for human health and welfare, one which is critical to national fiscal policy.


Study: Climate policy focused on local impacts is most effective for Americans

In a recent talk at MIT based on his recent book, Clean and Cheap, political scientist David Konisky PhD '06 says citizen demand for climate policy is so soft in the U.S. that new tactics are needed to address global warming.


MIT-SHASS MOOC courses available on edX

Discover the MIT-SHASS courses available online at edX — free, for anyone, anywhere.



An October 2015 conference on the MIT campus marked the launch of SOLVE — an MIT project dedicated to generating ongoing thinking, research, and collaboration to solve the world's toughest problems. Meet MIT SHASS participants in some of the initial events.  


Haitian educators and MIT faculty develop Kreyòl-based teaching tools

Six veteran educators from Haiti — two biologists, two physicists, and two mathematicians — were on campus recently to work closely with MIT faculty to develop and hone Kreyòl-based, technology-enhanced pedagogical tools for STEM education.


"Visualizing Japan" humanities MOOC nominated for the Japan Prize: Interview with Shigeru Miyagawa

“Visualizing Japan”—a massive open online course (MOOC) co-taught by Shigeru Miyagawa and others—has been nominated for the Japan Prize, a prestigious international prize awarded to educational broadcast and digital media programs selected from around the world.


Musical Institute of Technology: A book about music and the MIT mission

Published by the MIT-SHASS Office of the Dean, Musical Institute of Technology is a photo-rich portrait of MIT's Music program that explores the significance of music for the MIT mission: the intersection of music with technology, science, and linguistics; why music training correlates with success in other fields; the affinity between music and the STEM fields; how music teaches collaboration, imaginative risk-taking; and music as a lens on global culture.


Hundreds of MIT students take the TOUR de SHASS 2015

At MIT, every undergraduate receives a balanced STEM + SHASS education — with 25% of required classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. At the annual TOUR de SHASS academic expo, MIT students meet SHASS faculty, and discover the great diversity of classes in MIT's humanities, arts, and social sciences fields. Plus, free lunch!


Dissolve Unconference: A Summit on Inequality

How can we dissolve the structures of power that produce today’s inequalities?


New Faculty, Fall 2015

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of the MIT-SHASS faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research: ecology and globalization; trade reforms in India; post–Cold War Cuba; a humanistic account of the global diabetes crisis; and the political history of Mexico’s rural training schools for teachers. Please join us in welcoming these excellent scholars into the School community.


Work and Economic Equity in the U.S.

A sampler of MIT research on work and economic equity


Iatridou and von Fintel named Fellows of the Linguistics Society of America

MIT Professors Kai von Fintel and Sabine Iatridou have been named fellows of the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) — the highest honor in the field — in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the discipline.


TOUR de SHASS 2015 on September 10

Event offers students the chance to meet professors and learn about MIT’s many options in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.


Marcus Thompson appointed Institute Professor

“Over his long career, Marcus has worked to give students access to a world-class music program that has changed MIT,” said Steven Hall, chair of the MIT faculty. “Many colleagues told us about his commitment to and generosity with students... Marcus is one of the great men and women of our faculty who inspire us every day.”


Philosopher Robert Stalnaker solves problems the MIT way

Focus on real-world concerns underpins research in areas including game theory, linguistics, decision theory, and economics.


Donca Steriade: Searching for the building blocks of language

The syllable has long been considered to be the basic building block of language in the area of rhythm. MIT's Donca Steriade now believes that that different element — known as the "interval" — may be the basic unit of rhythm in human language.


3 Questions | Melissa Nobles on advancing racial and restorative justice

Melissa Nobles, Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Professor of Political Science, researches historical injustices in democracies. MIT SHASS Communications spoke with Nobles in 2015 about the ongoing aftermath of shooting deaths in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland, and what her research suggests about the current efforts to advance civil rights in America.


MIT chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 80 graduating seniors 

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, held its MIT induction ceremony on Thursday, June 4, admitting 80 graduating seniors into the MIT chapter, Xi of Massachusetts.


MIT grad students organize summer institute to increase diversity in the philosophy field.

The academic pursuit of philosophy (like many other fields) has a serious diversity problem. To help remedy the issue, three MIT philosophy graduate students have organized an innovative program that brought a diverse cohort of undergraduates to the MIT campus this summer, where the students explored the full range of options for pursuing an academic career in philosophy.


Andrea Louise Campbell named head of Political Science

Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has announced that Andrea Louise Campbell will become the new head of the Department of Political Science, effective July 1.  


Jeffrey S. Ravel named head of MIT History

Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has named Jeffrey S. Ravel head of the MIT SHASS History section, effective July 1, 2015.


Helen Elaine Lee and Emma Teng named to SHASS leadership roles

Dean Deborah Fitzgerald appointed two faculty members to new leadership roles within the school. Effective July 1, Professor Emma Teng will succeed Professor Ian Condry as head of Global Studies and Languages, and Professor Helen Elaine Lee will succeed Teng as director of Women’s and Gender Studies.


Faculty Promotions - Spring 2015

The MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is pleased to announce 14 faculty promotions, which are effective July 1, 2015.


Five MIT students win MISTI Excellence Awards

MIT SHASS-based MISTI, the Institute’s groundbreaking program in applied international studies, presented its annual Excellence Awards to five students on Friday, June 5, in a ceremony in Kirsch Auditorium. MISTI prepares students to become informed, engaged participants in work and research opportunities in more than 20 countries. Training includes everything from workplace etiquette to the language, politics, and history of the country.


How do we tell the story about climate change?

Meet five MIT Knight Science Journalism colleagues and one oak tree. By closely observing the phenology of trees and other plants — the seasonal changes in their physical characteristics — researchers are identifying a trend toward longer growing seasons. Winter is arriving later, and spring earlier.


MIT undergrads launch national competition

A national competition for high school students, founded and led by MIT undergraduates, held its inaugural conference in April 2015 at MIT. The competition was for research in the humanities, arts, and social science fields. 

Books for the 4th of July

Selections from the MIT SHASS Bookshelf

Music for the 4th of July

To celebrate, honor, and reflect

Vivian Tran ’16 and Caleb Lin ’16 win the 2015 Isabelle de Courtivron Prize  

Two juniors with a strong commitment both to technical majors and to creative writing have been awarded the 2015 Isabelle de Courtivron Prize for Expository and Creative Writing.

MIT List Visual Art Center


Artbot engineers the discovery of Art

Is it possible to engineer the discovery of art? In 2013, two SHASS graduate students set out to answer that question, and today, thanks to their work as research assistants in CMS/W, there’s an app for that!


2015 SHASS Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching announced   

Dean Fitzgerald has announced the recipients of the 2015 James A. and Ruth Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Warmest congratulations to these nine educators and colleagues, who represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 


Fotini Christia receives Carnegie Fellowship for research on conflict/cooperation

MIT’s Fotini Christia, associate professor of political science, is among the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows announced by the The Carnegie Corporation of New York. Each fellow will receive up to $200,000 to support research in the social sciences or humanities. Of the project, Susan Hockfield, MIT President Emerita, said “Solutions to the complex issues of today and tomorrow will not emerge simply through technology and science, but require humanistic and social science scholarship to use lessons of the past to devise paths to future peace and progress.”


MIT Music recording Infinite Winds released on major jazz label

For the first time ever, a collection of recordings by two outstanding MIT student groups — the MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE) and the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE) — has been released by major jazz label. The CD, Infinite Winds, features works by noted composers Guillermo Klein, Chick Corea, and Don Byron, as well as performances by renowned soloists Bill McHenry (tenor saxophone) and Evan Ziporyn (clarinet).

Celebrating Einstein marks 100th anniversary of general theory of relativity

Wherever you may be on the space-time continuum, it’s time to celebrate. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and to honor the occasion faculty from SHASS and Physics have organized "Celebrating Einstein," a series of panel discussions, performances, and other events that will take place throughout Cambridge this April as a special feature of the 2015 Cambridge Science Festival.


MIT Political Science graduate student awarded a NSF Fellowship

Rachel Odell, a first year graduate student, has won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2015. Each of fellow is awarded a three-year stipend for both the student and research institution.


Literature Professor Arthur Bahr named a 2015 MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Arthur Bahr, the Alfred Henry and Jean Morrison Hayes Career Development Associate Professor of Literature, has been named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT's highest undergraduate teaching award.

David Dolev and Daria Johnson receive 2015 MIT Excellence Awards

MISTI associate director David Dolev and literature staff member Daria Johnson were both recognized for their exemplary efforts to strengthen and enrich the MIT community when they each received an 2015 MIT Excellence Award.


Interview with Seth Mnookin about Vaccination and Public Health

MIT SHASS News: What do you see as the ideal situation for vaccination and public health, and what efforts do you think will be involved in getting closer to that condition?

Lily Tsai


Lily Tsai receives 2015 Levitan Prize for research to empower citizens

Founder of MIT Governance Lab creates immersive opportunities for MIT students to research new forms of civic engagement around the world.


The Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT

Meet the Knight Science Fellow for 2014-2015. This year MIT's Knight Science Journalism program welcomed 11 acclaimed journalists who investigate topics ranging from phenology and climate change, to medicine and human health, to quantum mechanics to hone their science reporting skills. In this article, the Fellows offer their insights on the challenges and rewards of their field.  


SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship launches with three PhD students

MIT SHASS has welcomed three outstanding PhD students from other universities to the MIT campus this year through the new SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship. Meet the three inaugural fellows: Shermaine Jones, Rosa Martinez, and Theresa Rojas.


Kai von Fintel: Decoding the Meaning of Language

"What makes linguistics, the science of language, so fascinating, von Fintel says, "is that it exists at the intersection of science and the humanities." You use a scientific approach, and you get to apply it to something central to humanity."


Political Science and EECS join forces for new "Elections and Voting Technology" course

Ensuring that elections are fair and equitable is fundamental to democracy—yet easier said than done, as MIT students discovered in a new class called "Elections and Voting Technology." The class is taught jointly by Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, and Ronald Rivest, Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.


Dean Fitzgerald announces new Cynthia L. Reed Chair in French Studies and Language

Deborah K. Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), has announced the establishment of the Cynthia L. Reed Chair in French Studies and Language, made possible by a gift from John S. Reed, former chairman of the MIT Corporation, and his wife, Cynthia.


A Lasting Legacy: Anthropologist Jean Jackson retires 

Jackson joined the MIT faculty in 1972, an early member of a newly formed program. Now, upon her retirement in 2014, the department’s nine members are a strong and tight-knit community — much to Jackson’s credit, say her colleagues. “She thinks ethically and acts ethically at every scale, from the global geopolitical to the very interpersonal politics of the department,” says Stefan Helmreich, Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology and current program Head. “She communicates through action that we’re all in it together."


Bringing Science and Humanities Together - Promise and Perils

"What does it mean to converge science and humanities? why do we want to do this? and what would it take to succeed? Here I will sketch out the beginnings of an answer."


35 Burchard Scholars announced for 2015

The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. “The Burchard scholars are some of MIT’s liveliest undergraduates,” says Margery Resnick, professor of literature and director of the Burchard Scholars Program. “Selection is extremely competitive, and the students chosen are unafraid to wrestle with new ideas.”

Twelve SHASS Research Fund recipients announced for 2015

The SHASS Research Fund supports research in the areas of humanities, arts, and social sciences that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. The School is pleased to announce twelve recipients for 2015. 


Global Health & Medical Humanities Initiative launched

“We want to bring together scholars in different fields who don’t normally have a chance to talk to each other,” said Erica Caple James, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Global Health & Medical Humanities Initiative. “With this initiative, we hope to encourage more interdisciplinary collaboration on health matters — teaching together, researching together, and mobilizing the creativity of all five MIT schools, as the Institute continues to develop its future role in improving human health.”

MIT SHASS alumnus and Visiting Professor Jean Tirole MIT PhD'81 wins 2014 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.

David Mindell named 2015 AIAA Associate Fellow
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has selected historian David A. Mindell as a 2015 AIAA Associate Fellow. Mindell, who is also a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT will receive the award on January 5, 2015 at a ceremony held in conjunction with the AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in Kissimmee, Florida. 


MIT linguist Danny Fox named Anshen-Chomsky Professor of Language and Thought

Fox does research that illuminates both language and the mind itself. "He 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." — David Pesetsky, Head, MIT Philosophy and Linguistics 

Welcoming New Faculty | Fall 2014

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of the School faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research.


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum to lead Knight Science Journalism at MIT

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum will join MIT in 2015 as the director of Knight Science Journalism at MIT, a fellowship program that enables world-class journalists to spend a year at MIT studying everything from science, technology, and engineering to history of science, literature, policy, and political science.

Planet Earth


The Power of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT

"From climate change to poverty to disease, the challenges of our age are unwaveringly human in nature and scale; and engineering and science issues are always embedded in broader human realities, from deeply-felt cultural traditions to building codes to political tensions."

MIT Melville scholar Wyn Kelley sails on the the Charles W. Morgan 

Wyn Kelley has spent more than 30 years studying the works of Herman Melville — particularly his seminal whaling novel Moby-Dick — so she was thrilled to get the chance this summer to sail aboard the last surviving U.S. whaleship from Melville's era. 


MIT chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 89 graduating seniors

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, held its MIT induction ceremony on Thursday, June 5, admitting 89 graduating seniors into the MIT chapter, Xi of Massachusetts.


Fusco joins SHASS as 2014-15 MLK Visiting Scholar

Acclaimed interdisciplinary artist and writer Coco Fusco will join the School community for the 2014-15 academic year as a MLK Visiting Associate Professor in the Comparative Media Studies / Writing program.

Tribute to Thomas Parke Hughes (1923-2014) — by Rosalind Williams

Thomas Parke Hughes came to MIT in the 1960s as an assistant professor, then moved on to other institutions, where over time he developed into the nation’s pre-eminent historian of technology. He had a long-standing affection for MIT, and returned in 1998 as a distinguished visiting professor. Through his books and teaching, which conceptualized technology and engineering as part of broader human culture and history (thus, affected by politics, ecnomics and moral ambiguity), Hughes made an immeasurable contribution to the life of the Institute.


Gamma Sonification: MIT students make music from particle energy

Midway through Keeril Makan's “Introduction to Composition” class, three MIT nuclear engineering students had invented a technique to sonify, or create sound, from the energy of the decaying atom.

Elizabeth Garrels, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, retires after 35 years at MIT

Elizabeth Garrels, who will be retiring this spring after 35 years at MIT, has earned a reputation during her MIT career as a lively, engaged member of the community and a generous colleague. She has also been known as an uncompromising teacher who regularly offers very challenging classes, the kind that MIT students relish.


Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates dazzles during two years as Visiting Scholar


“What I tell my students is that you here at MIT have access to great knowledge—more knowledge than 99.9 percent of people who have ever been on planet Earth, and I think you have some sort of moral duty to learn how to communicate that. Knowledge is power; power shouldn’t be hoarded.”

2014 Levitan Awards
for Excellence in Teaching announced

Dean Fitzgerald has announced the recipients of the 2014 James A. and Ruth Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Warmest congratulations to these nine educators and colleagues, who represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 


Anthropologist Christine Walley receives CLR James Best Book Award for Exit Zero

Associate Professor of Anthropology Christine Walley has been awarded the CLR James Award for Best Book by the Working-Class Studies Association for Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago (University of Chicago Press 2013). Exit Zero explores the effects of deindustrialization on Chicago workers and their families. 

Two new Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows join the MIT community

With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, the School awards up to three fellowships each year to promising young scholars working at the intersection of humanities disciplines, or between humanities and other disciplines. We are delighted to welcome our two new Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows for 2016-2018 — Lauren Flood and Sun-ha Hong.


Female scholars led by MIT anthropologist Susan Silbey illuminate path to commonsense regulation

This research represents a new common sense about regulation that acknowledges the ubiquity of legal regulation, the global circulation of regulation that has transformed its scale, and the role of the organization as the locus of regulation.

Six MIT undergraduates awarded Kelly-Douglas Traveling Fellowships

Travel beyond MIT to pursue an independent project in an HASS field, or to collaborate on a humanitarian project, can have a transformative impact on a student's life and career. 


Perreau examines the politics of adoption in France

MIT Associate Professor of French Studies Bruno Perreau explores how adoption issues in France reveal deeply-held views about gender, parenthood, and "Frenchness."

Women's and Gender Studies project honors former MIT President Charles Vest

The contributions of women to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields gained some additional visibility on Wikipedia this spring as MIT students and faculty members teamed up for a "Women in STEM Edit-a-thon" in honor of former MIT President Charles M. Vest (1941-2013).


Philosopher Sally Haslanger receives Ford Chair 

Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has awarded Professor of Philosophy Sally Haslanger a Ford Chair. “This honor is in recognition of both her distinctive scholarship, and her distinguished leadership within the discipline of philosophy internationally," said Fitzgerald.

Two MIT undergraduates win 2014 Kelly Essay Awards

SHASS has announced two recipients of the 2014 Kelly Essay Award: Leonid Grinberg'14 is the winner of the Kelly Essay Prize; Natasha Balwit, has received the Honorable Mention. The Kelly Essay Prize honors outstanding writing achievement by MIT undergraduates, awarding two prizes of up to $800 each.


Knight Science speakers cite communication as vital to progress on climate change

“The climate change crisis is no longer primarily a scientific problem. At this stage, it is a communications issue.” That assessment, from Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmosphere Science at Colorado State University, was a frequent refrain during a recent MIT Knight Science Journalism “Bootcamp on Energy and Climate.” Many of the distinguished presenters at the intensive three-day course emphasized that scientists have established the evidence about climate change, and journalists now have a crucial role to educate the public about its impacts.

Acclaimed cellist Carlos Prieto, SB ’58, receives the 2014 Robert A. Muh Alumni Award 

Prieto's Muh Award lecture "The Adventures of a Cello," along with a musical performance will take place Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 5 pm, at the MIT Wong Auditorium, Building E51-115, 70 Memorial Drive, Cambridge. A festive public reception will immediately follow the lecture.  

3 Questions with Paul Raeburn | How the KSJ Tracker raises the bar for science media 

"Our goal is to provide an informal peer review of science reporting, which we hope will help improve science coverage across the board." — Paul Raeburn, Chief Media Critic, MIT KSJ Tracker 


MIT students find fluency in languages is transformative

How important is it for MIT students to become fluent in new languages as they expand their horizons and prepare to serve the world? Amanda von Goetz's story is a good example: mastering Russian has proved to be a transformative experience in her life — not just once, but several times over. 

Political Scientist Daniel Hidalgo receives 2014 Kellogg/Notre Dame Award 

MIT Assistant Professor F. Daniel Hidalgo has won the 2014 Kellogg/Notre Dame Award for best paper in comparative politics—together with his co-author, Simeon Nichter of the University of California, San Diego. The Kellogg/Notre Dame Award recognizes outstanding research presented at the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference, one of the largest academic conferences held on political science each year. A scholarly association founded in 1939, the MPSA is the publisher of The American Journal of Political Science.


Laura Meeker '14 | Engineering + Humanities 
Le Morte d'Arthur and the Engineer

In the fall of 2013, after having taught "Medieval Literature: Legends of Arthur" at MIT for six years, Arthur Bahr took a leap of faith. Instead of a final paper, he gave his students the option to turn in a creative project about Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.  “These are MIT students," says Bahr, Associate Professor of Literature."They’re makers. Mens et manus, right?”

Anthropologist Heather Paxson named 2014 MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Every year, the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program recognizes a handful of professors who are exceptional undergraduate teachers, educational innovators, and mentors. This year’s awardees included Heather Anne Paxson, an associate professor of anthropology. 

April Julich Perez of MISTI Program receives 2014 MIT Excellence Award

April Julich Perez, associate director of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) within the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has been honored for her leadership with a 2014 MIT Excellence Award for Bringing Out the Best

Bruno Perreau awarded 2014-15 Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellowship

Bruno Perreau, who was recently promoted to Associate Professor of French studies in Global Studies and  Languages, has received a Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellowship for 2014-’15. The Stanford Humanities Center is a multidisciplinary research institute dedicated to advancing knowledge about culture, philosophy, history, and the arts.


The Open Documentary Lab puts MIT in the vanguard of new media for storytelling

Internet, cellphone cameras, big data, interactive games, and other technologies have created an explosion of new methods of storytelling that is transforming the media landscape. The Open Documentary Lab explores the challenges and opportunities these changes present for documentarians today.

2014 Burchard Scholars announced

The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. “The Burchard scholars are some of MIT’s liveliest undergraduates,” says Margery Resnick, professor of literature and director of the Burchard Scholars Program. “Selection is extremely competitive, and the students chosen are unafraid to wrestle with new ideas.”


Historian Loren Graham on factors that propel innovators through challenges

Innovators particularly need different frames of mind in crisis moments, when one doesn't know how to go forward. Historian of Science and Technology Loren Graham discovers that these frames of mind can often be characterized by philosophical, moral, and ethical concerns.

3 Questions | Interview with Seth Mnookin

The challenge and impact of science writing

Elevating the Discourse: The Knight Science Journalism Fellows at MIT   

This year MIT's Knight Science Journalism program welcomed 11 acclaimed journalists who investigate topics ranging from phenology and climate change, to medicine and human health, to quantum mechanics to hone their science reporting skills. In this article, the Fellows offer their insights on the challenges and rewards of their field. 


Manduhai Buyandelger receives $25K Levitan Prize in the Humanities for 2013

Associate Professor of Anthropology Manduhai Buyandelger has been awarded the James A. (1945) and Ruth Levitan Prize in the Humanities, a $25,000 research grant that will support her in-depth ethnographic study of parliamentary elections in Mongolia, with specific emphasis on the experience of female candidates.


Gallery of Digital Humanities at MIT

The work going on in digital humanities and new media is one expression of the innovation that characterizes the Humanities more broadly. Using computational tools and methods, MIT humanities scholars are opening new lines of research and discovery, revitalizing the study of objects from the past, and asking questions never before possible.

A global community gathers to celebrate J-PAL@10

MORE THAN A THOUSAND PEOPLE from across the nation and the world gathered at MIT on December 7, 2013 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Established in 2003 as a research center in the Economics Department of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, J-PAL's founders pioneered the use of randomized control trials to test the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. Today, J-PAL comprises a global network of nearly 100 researchers working in 55 countries.   

detail, George Inness painting, The Lakawanna Valley

Symposium honors 50th anniversary of The Machine in the Garden by Leo Marx

MIT Professor Emeritus Leo Marx wrote The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America in 1964, before cell phones, the Internet, and computers became omnipresent in American life. Yet today this work — centered on the tensions nineteenth century authors saw as shaping American life — remains as relevant as ever. On November 8, 2013, colleagues and former students gathered to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Marx’s book with a symposium at MIT. 

HASTS alumni return to campus to present their work at 25th anniversary symposium

Fifteen distinguished HASTS alumni gave presentations on their current work at a November 2013 symposium held to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary. In opening remarks, Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, said, "Our mission in SHASS is to empower our students with the perspectives and skills needed to think deeply and to provide real leadership in their fields. The impressive work displayed by our HASTS alumni is a surpassing example of how that goal is being achieved.” 


SHASS convenes event with leaders in Science Engagement field 

This fall, MIT gathered 75 top practitioners from across the field at the "Evolving Culture of Science Engagement" event to take the measure of the potentials in the convergence of science, education, and entertainment.


David Kaiser awarded the Davis Prize from the History of Science Society

The History of Science Society has awarded the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize to MIT historian and physicist David Kaiser for his book How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W. W. Norton, 2011).

The Atlantic cites Natasha Schüll's Addiction by Design as a "Best Book I Read This Year"  

Atlantic senior editor Alexis C. Madgiral, who selected Schüll's book, writes: Schüll "looks at how the gambling companies engineer behaviors as they simultaneously create and satisfy human desires...If books can be tools, Addiction by Design is one of the foundational artifacts for understanding the digital age."

The Economist names Rosalind Williams' Triumph of the Human Empire one of the best books of 2013

The Economist has named The Triumph of Human Empire (University of Chicago Press) one of the best books of 2013. Williams is the Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology in MIT's Program in Science, Technology, and Society. In The Triumph of Human Empire, she explores the turning point in history and technology when human endeavors began to dominate the planet like never before.  

detail, Alfred Bierstadt, The Buffalo Trail

3 Questions Interview | Rosalind Williams on Machine in the Garden by Leo Marx

The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America by Leo Marx, Kenan Sahin Professor of American Culture emeritus, is a seminal work that has had ongoing influence on thinking about the environment. Rosalind Williams, Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology, offers thoughts on the enduring significance of Marx's book.      


Wi-Phi online video platform presents "philosophy's greatest hits"

A little philosophy could go a long way toward making the world a better place, says Damien Rochford, Ph.D. ’13, who has co-launched the Wi-Phi, an online, interactive philosophy website. The site presents more than a dozen short entertaining video animations to accompany talks by top scholars on such timeless questions as whether humans have free will, whether god exists, and what is it for a sentence to be true. The goal is for people to learn how to do philosophy, rather than simply learning what philosophers have thought, so the site focuses on developing critical thinking skills.


Panel at MIT assesses the benefits/uncertainties of climate engineering

As the human and economic costs of climate change threaten to rise—and with little progress in reducing global carbon emission—some activists, scientists, and politicians are searching for new ways to respond to the global climate crisis.


Class on digital humanities premieres with tech-savvy approach

First offered in the Spring 2013 term, and taught by Professor James Paradis and Principal Research Associate Kurt Fendt, both of Comparative Media Studies/Writing, "Digital Humanities: Topics, Techniques, and Technologies" (CMS.633), gave MIT students the chance to pair technical know-how with real-world humanities projects  — such as designing innovations for the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (ICA), and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


"Annotation Studio" translates an ancient literary practice into the digital age

Annotation Studio, a digital humanities project developed by HyperStudio, promises to improve upon traditional techniques for entering marginalia and side notes in books — enabling readers not only to annotate texts across media, but also to share comments with others and to enhance them with links, images, video, and audio.


Hard Math = Powerful Fun

Six years ago when MIT economist Glenn Ellison volunteered to coach his daughter Caroline’s middle-school math team, he hardly realized he would soon become a leading authority in the niche market of advanced mathematics textbooks for elementary- and middle-school students.


Williams awarded Leonardo da Vinci Medal for lifetime achievement

Rosalind H. Williams, Professor in the School's Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) was honored for a lifetime of achievement when the Society for the History of Technology presented her with its highest award, the Leonardo da Vinci Medal. The medal is given annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the history of technology through research, teaching, publications, and other activities. 

Ritvo's Animal Estate featured on centennial list of 100 most significant books from Harvard University Press 

Harvard University Press, celebrating its centennial year, recently selected MIT Professor Harriet Ritvo’s 1987 book, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age, as one of its 100 most significant publications.  Congratulations to Professor Ritvo — and to Harvard University Press!  

TOUR de SHASS expo showcases MIT's humanities, arts, social sciences

Several hundred MIT students gathered on September 5, 2013, for the inaugural TOUR de SHASS—a new academic expo showcasing MIT's wide range of fields and classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

Anthropologist Natasha Schüll honored for Addition by Design - research on technology and gambling   

Associate Professor Natasha Schüll of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) has received the Sharon Stephens Prize from the American Ethnological Society (AES) for her book, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton 2012).

MIT's Jameel Poverty Action Lab launches a regional office for North America

Established in 2013, J-PAL North America is based at MIT in the Department of Economics, and works to improve the effectiveness of social programs in the U.S. and Canada through J-PAL's three core activities: research, policy outreach, and capacity building.

Emma Teng named one of Ten Outstanding Faculty 

Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity has selected MIT Professor Emma Teng as one of Ten Outstanding Faculty honored nationwide for her "passion for inspiring [her] students, as well as [her] dedication to [her] own personal values."

Caspar Hare | MITx offer first intro philosophy MOOC 

"Analytic philosophy gives you a way to think about [challenging] questions in a rigorous and organized way. In a very concrete sense, it teaches you life skills, because most of the problems you face in life do not have an instruction manual."

Welcoming New Faculty | Fall 2013

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of the faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research: history of South Asia and South Asian diasporas; comparative politics; French history and visual culture; history of law focusing on slavery, abolition, and the Atlantic revolutionary period; international law; and Classical Greek and contemporary rhetorical theory, and comparative media. Please join us in welcoming these excellent scholars into the School community.

Catherine Clark Receives Contemporary French Civilization Award

Catherine E. Clark has received the CFC's 2nd Annual Annual Lawrence R. Schehr Memorial Award for her essay "The Vidéothèque de Paris, Archive of the Future."   

Women in philosophy | Haslanger commentary in NYT

In a recent New York Times article, Sally Haslanger, MIT Professor of Philosophy, provides her perspective on the current underrepresentation of women in philosophy.  

Faculty Promotions

The MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is pleased to announce the following faculty promotions, which are effective 1 July 2013.

Pauline Maier


Path-breaking historian, Pauline Maier, dies at 75 

The eminent historian Pauline Maier, a treasured member of the MIT SHASS community for more than thirty years, died August 12 in Cambridge, MA after a short illness. Her award-winning books cast new light on Revolutionary-era America and the foundations of U.S. democracy, and her dedicated teaching influenced generations of scholars. Responding to the news, Dean Fitzgerald said, "One of the key intellectual figures in her field, Pauline was also a leader at MIT — a great historian and scholar who understood the pulse of the Institute and helped guide and improve our community in profound ways....We will miss her enormously."

Shankar Raman

Literary scholar Shankar Raman wins 2013 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

Raman, Professor of Literature, has received the 2013 James A. ('45) and Ruth Levitan Prize in the Humanities. The $25,000 prize is awarded annually to support innovative and creative scholarship in the humanities. The prize will support Raman's development of his manuscript-in-progress, Before the Two Cultures: Literature and Mathematics in Early Modern Europe.

Alma Steingart

Alma Steingart to join Harvard Society of Fellows

Alma Steingart, a doctoral candidate in MIT's Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) has been invited to join the Harvard Society of Fellows, an elite group dedicated to “the unregimented cultivation of scholarly genius.”

Sherry Turkle receives The Centennial Medal from Harvard; also named a Literary Light

Sherry Turkle, The Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, has recently received the honor of "Literary Light" from the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and The Centennial Medal from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  

Mark Harvey and Aardvark Jazz Orchestra mark two anniversaries 

MIT Lecturer Mark Harvey led his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra at Kresge Auditorium, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his band.

MIT music documentary "Awakening" pays tribute to the Arab Spring

WGBH aired the New England Emmy-winning MIT music documentary "Awakening: Evoking the Arab Spring through Music" on Friday, May 31, 2013. The 30-minute program features the world premiere of "Awakening," by composer Jamshied Sharifi '83, which was performed in March 2012 by the MIT Wind Ensemble, led by Dr. Frederick E. Harris, Conductor of the ensemble, and Director of Wind and Jazz Ensembles for MIT Music and Theater Arts.  

Anthropologist Graham Jones receives the 2013 MIT Edgerton Award

“Graham is a talented scholar with an unquenchable passion for teaching. His deep intelligence, breadth of knowledge, and commitment to excellence are apparent in everything he does.”


Profile of Emma Teng | MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Emma Teng, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations and an associate professor of China studies, relishes the unique atmosphere within MIT that fosters multidisciplinary collaboration. And through her research and teachings about Asian and Asian-American identities and histories, Teng helps her students challenge their own assumptions, an exercise that she hopes extends beyond the classroom.

Dean Fitzgerald announces appointments to SHASS leadership roles 

Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has announced the appointment of eight faculty members to new leadership roles. 

Seven undergraduates awarded Kelly-Douglas Traveling Fellowships  

An important dimension of the Kelly-Douglas Fund is support for undergraduate education in the humanities, arts and social sciences; travel beyond MIT to pursue a project in an HASS field, or to collaborate in a humanitarian project, can have a powerful and lasting effect on students.

John G. Mikhael ’13 wins Isabelle de Courtivron Prize  

Math major Mikhael received the $400 prize for his essay, “Lost in Translation,” which explores Mikhael’s experience growing up—first in the United States and then in Lebanon—and his return to the States to study at MIT. The Prize honors cross-cultural fluency — an ability key to leadership and success in today's global world.

2013 Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching announced

Dean Fitzgerald has announced the recipients of the 2013 James A. and Ruth Levitan Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Warmest congratulations to these seven educators and colleagues, who represent the very best academic leadership in the School. 

2013 SHASS Research Fund recipients announced

The SHASS Research Fund supports research in the areas of humanities, arts, and social sciences that shows promise of making an important contribution to the proposed area of activity. The School is pleased to announce the eight recipients for 2013.  

Richard Locke publishes research on equity/safety issues in the global supply chain 


Can global brands create just supply chains, fair and safe working conditions? In his new book, The Promise and Limits of Private PowerMIT political scientist Richard Locke says that protecting workers involved in the global supply chain will require three things: actions by firms themselves; long-standing supply-chain relationships, and government effort.   

MIT literature scholar Stephanie Frampton awarded the Rome Prize 

Assistant Professor of Literature Stephanie Ann Frampton has been awarded the prestigious Rome Prize for ancient studies by the American Academy in Rome. The award will provide funding for Frampton to spend 11 months living and working at the academy, a leading American overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the fine arts and humanities.

Arthur Bahr’s first book reveals a surprise about 14th century manuscripts    

While reading online, do you sometimes find yourself skipping from politics to poetry to humor? If so, your experience is rather medieval, says Arthur Bahr, an associate professor of literature at MIT whose first book, Fragments and Assemblages: Forming Compilations of Medieval London was just released by University of Chicago Press.


Q&A with Philosopher Sally Haslanger: What is "natural," and what is "social?"

Professor of philosophy and Director of Women's and Gender Studies at MIT, Sally Haslanger recently published Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (Oxford University Press), a collection of essays on gender and race. We caught up with her to talk about the rich ideas in her most recent book. 


Burchard Scholars for 2013 announced 

MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has named 32 undergraduate students as Burchard Scholars for 2013. The award recognizes sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and academic excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering.

Esther Duflo selected as a 2013 Dan David Prize laureate

Honored for research on strategies to alleviate poverty through disease prevention

 President Obama announces intent to appoint Esther Duflo to Global Development Council

President Barack Obama has announced he intends to appoint MIT Professor Esther Duflo to the President’s Global Development Council. Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, and a founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

AIAA honors David Mindell for Digital Apollo

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics has named MIT historian David A. Mindell the winner of its Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award for his book Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight.

Ideas Matter series hosts explorations of the Occupy Movement and of Climate Change   

Ideas Matter, a joint project of Boston Review and the MIT SHASS Department of Political Science, is a lecture series that brings Boston Review writers together with other experts and practitioners for debate on the challenges of our times. Here are updates on the two most recent events, along with links to books and more information.


Announcing The Listening Room—the sounds of MIT Music online

The finest music composed and performed by MIT’s renowned music faculty and students is now available in The Listening Room—an online collection that showcases the Institute’s longstanding engagement with music. “The arts at MIT are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking, and imaginative problem-solving. The Listening Room now opens the doors for a worldwide audience to enjoy the MIT musical experience."


School Within a School: MIT's Concourse learning community 

The single best thing about college for MIT Professor of History Anne McCants was "exploring ideas ravenously."  It was like being in a candy store for four years,” she says. Now, as newly appointed director of Concourse, a learning community for MIT freshmen, McCants says her goal is to give today’s students the same heady experience of intellectual adventure and discovery within the context of a supportive group. 


MIT Philosophy has extraordinary success placing PhD grads in top tenure-track positions

Consistently ranked among the top ten philosophy departments in the country, MIT’s small Philosophy section—just 12 full time professors—has extraordinary success in placing PhD graduates in tenure-track positions at top philosophy programs nationwide. The Leiter Reports placed MIT second in grad student placement. (New York University, a program nearly twice as large, was first). Because obtaining a faculty position in philosophy is notoriously difficult—often 700 applicants for every appointment—many are wondering: what is the secret of MIT’s outsized success?

MIT SHASS hosts symposium for 50th anniversary of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Friday, December 7, 2012
Bartos Theater, E51-070 | 1-5:30pm
Free and open to the public 

Q&A with linguist Michel DeGraff
On the role of language in education and economic development

MIT Associate Professor Michel DeGraff recently received a $1M grant from the NSF for research to develop tools to teach STEM subjects in Haitian Kreyòl—part of a larger, transformative project to use Kreyol, the language Haitians actually speak, in the country's classrooms. In this interview, DeGraff speaks about his vision, and how the project is a model for teaching in other local languages around the globe.


DeGraff awarded $1m NSF grant

Michel DeGraff, Associate Professor of Linguistics, is the Principal Investigator for a five-year project that will help develop classroom tools to teach science and math in Haitian Creole for the first time. 


Great Ideas exhibit opens in Building 14

The installation, which officially opened in October 2011, presents a tour of the School’s fields of study—from Anthropology to Economics to Wrting—as well as news, profiles, and research briefs. 


New York Times interviews Junot Díaz

Q & A with the Pulitzer prize-winning author and MIT Professor of Writing 

Marcus Thompson

Marcus Thompson presents world premiere of Viola Concerto by Wilson

Violist Marcus Thompson, Robert R. Taylor Professor of Music at MIT, presented the world premiere of the Viola Concerto by composer Olly Wilson with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on June 2.

Sal Khan

Salman Kahn's talk at MIT Commencement 2012 

A brilliant, joyful commencement address, June 8, 2012


MIT establishes Center for Art, Science, and Technology

A new Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) is being established at MIT with support from a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

bulldog puppy smiling

Think you're funny?  — Prove it! 

Apply for a grant from the de Florez Fund for Humor. Yes, it's true—at MIT you can be funded for being funny. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences invites MIT students, faculty, and staff to apply for grants from the de Florez Fund for Humor. 


Economists Daron Acemoglu of MIT and James Robinson publish new thesis on the wealth of nations

A collection of the significant reviews, interviews, videos, broadcasts about the thesis on the origins of power, prosperity, and poverty

Shigeru Miyagawa


Shigeru Miyagawa receives President's Award from the OCW Consortium

MIT linguistics professor Shigeru Miyagawa has been selected to receive the President's Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence (ACE) for his contributions to the global OpenCourseWare and Open Education movements. Miyagawa, a key member of the faculty team that nurtured the development of MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), has contributed a significant amount of his own course materials to the site, and has traveled extensively to spread the practice of openly sharing educational materials globally. 

MIT Symphony Orchestra season finale concert to feature Katzin '12 and Chen '13

The orchestra, under the direction of Adam K. Boyles, will spotlight two talented MIT students: Composer Dustin R. Katzin ’12 and pianist Yimin Chen ’13, on the season Finale Concert on May 4th in Kresge Auditorium. The evening will include Chen's performance of Prokofiev's first Piano Concerto, and the premiere of Katzin's "Schrödinger’s Cat: a Musical Journey into the Strange World of Quantum Physics."

building 10


Meet the MacVicars of MIT SHASS

The SHASS MacVicar Faculty Fellows discuss the significance, the goals—and the sheer fun—of teaching MIT students.  


Gallery | The MIT SHASS MacVicar Faculty Fellows

Photographs, research areas, and commentary from SHASS faculty who are among the Institute's finest educators


Rosalind Williams: on the "Human Empire"

An historian who finds evidence and insight in literature, Rosalind Williams, Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology, recently completed a book examining the critical juncture when human endeavors began to dominate the planet as never before. Forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press (2013), The Triumph of Human Empire, explores this turning point in history and technology through the works of three writers from the late 1800s.


Cuthbert receives $500K Digging into Data grant for innovative musicology tools

Associate Professor of Music Michael Cuthbert, together with an international team of researchers, has been awarded a $500K grant from the Digging into Data consortium (including $175K from the National Endowment for the Humanities). The grant supports his for work using computational techniques to study changes in Western musical style.

Irene Heim


Scientific Reunion commemorates 50 years of Linguistics at MIT

To celebrate the first 50 years of MIT’s graduate program in Linguistics, alumni, former faculty and postdoctoral scholars attended a Scientific Reunion, held at MIT on December 9-11, 2011, and participated in a discussion of some of the foundational questions investigated by its past and present members. Professor David Pesetsky writes, "Intellectually, it was first-rate and exciting; there were some fireworks (just as we'd hoped). It was also a very emotional weekend. Collectively, this was the group that built the field." 

Great Ideas exhibit features MIT research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences    

For MIT's 150th anniversary, Dean Deborah Fitzgerald and the School leadership initiated a new permanent exhibit about the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Located on the first floor of Building 14, near Killian Hall, the exhibit presents the 20+ fields of study that make up the School, as well as an updating gallery of research, news, and profiles. 

Richard Holton

Philosopher Richard Holton on what New Year's resolutions say about us 

"Our ability to make resolutions is at the center of our sense of free will." — Story in The Boston Globe

colorful communication cables


Communication Forum conducts a conversation for scholars, citizens

How are new technologies transforming public discourse? Are traditional news outlets still influential in framing the news we get online?  What are the legal dangers for publishing secrets in the crowd-sourced era? Founded in 1978 by pioneering media scholar Ithiel de Sola Pool of MIT’s Political Science Department, the forum engages leading scholars, journalists, media producers, and citizens in discussions on emerging media in a changing world.


Finding the pulse of the poor

Armed with data, an MIT lab offers fresh insight on some of the world’s most vexing problems. For nearly a decade, MIT economics professors Esther Duflo, and Abhijit Banerjee, have worked with a global network of researchers to conduct experiments in the world’s poorest places - where families live on less than $1 day - and reached conclusions that are changing the way economists and policy makers think about development in impoverished areas.

explosion of energy


Energy challenge calls on political, economic, and cultural realms

Meeting 21st energy requires both technological solutions and innovation and input from economic, political, social and cultural spheres. Technical issues have human and social components, and there is no one solution to the complex energy issues.  

Robert A. Muh

Gallery of Recipients | Robert A. Muh Alumni Award

Profiles of the first six recipients of the biennial award, which was founded in 2000 by Robert and Berit Muh, to honor MIT alums who make significant career contributions in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.  


MIT economists Finkelstein and Gruber demonstrate the health and financial benefits of Medicaid

Landmark study shows the effects of health insurance program: much better health and more financial stability for the poor; more bills paid for hospitals and doctors. Professors of Economics Amy Finkelstein (a principal investigator) and Jonathan Gruber contributed to the study.

The deaths of others book cover


In The Deaths of Others, John Tirman explores fate of civilians in America's wars

Americans are greatly concerned about the number of our troops killed in battle — 100,000 dead in World War I; 300,000 in World War II; 33,000 in the Korean War; 58,000 in Vietnam; 4,500 in Iraq; more than 1,000 in Afghanistan — and rightly so. But why are we so indifferent, often oblivious, to the far greater number of casualties suffered by those we fight and those we fight for? This is the compelling, largely unasked question that John Tirman, a principal research scientist and executive director at the MIT Center for International Studies, answers in The Deaths of Others


Report cites arts as essential to MIT's mission

The arts at MIT connect creative minds across disciplines and encourage a lifetime of exploration and self-discovery. Rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem-solving, the arts are essential to MIT’s mission.

book cover, A Widening Sphere

A Widening Sphere | Alexander examines how early MIT leaders shaped the Institute 

The men who drove MIT's early development were "charismatic, diverse, quirky, sometimes tragic individuals," says Philip Alexander, a research associate in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. In A Widening Sphere: Evolving Cultures at MIT, his new book honoring the Institute's 150th anniversary, he describes how its first nine presidents, from William Barton Rogers to Karl Taylor Compton, shaped much of its first century.


A recap of the MIT Festival of Art, Science, and Technology (MIT FAST)

A prominent feature of MIT150, MIT FAST celebrated the Institute's unique confluence of art, science, and technology. With strong participation from MIT SHASS Music and Theater Arts, FAST events appeared across the MIT campus and over the entire spring semester.

Daron Acemoglu


MIT economist Daron Acemoglu on inequality and the financial crash

This excellent podcast interview with Daron Acemoglu, Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Economics, examines the role of income inequality in the financial crash.

radiation check, March 2011, Japan


CIS Starr Forum examines Japan's nuclear crisis and governmental response

Special forum on March 16, 2011, co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies and the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.  Three MIT experts discuss Japan's nuclear past, present, and future from a political and engineering perspective. The presentation includes an eyewitness account of the crisis and the Japanese government's response. 


Why Japan relies on nuclear power | CNN interview with MIT political scientist Richard Samuels

Japan has more than 50 nuclear power plants and had planned to build two dozen more by 2030, according to Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science, and director of MIT's Center for International Studies, who has written on Japanese energy and security policy.  


Q&A with Linguist David Pesetsky

Why is the idea of Universal Grammar controversial?  What does linguistics tell us about how we think? — Q&A with David Pesetsky, Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


Kaiser and Alexander create books for MIT's 150th anniversary

MIT150 and MIT Press have partnered to bring out two books for MIT's sesquicentennial year—both works authored by members of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. David Kaiser, Professor in Science, Technology and Society, is the editor of Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision. Philip Alexander, of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, is the author of A Widening Sphere: Evolving Cultures at MIT.  

George Frideric Handel


Handel and Haydn Society perform "Israel in Egypt" for MIT's 150th

An historic colloquium and concert on February 19, 2011 at MIT. Premiered in the U.S. by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1859 (and last performed by the Society in 1974), this monumental work depicts the biblical story of Exodus, recounting the ten plagues, and celebrating the parting and crossing of the Red Sea.

Kresge Auditorium


Economics Symposium launches MIT's 150th celebration

This symposium, organized by the School's Department of Economics and the Sloan School of Management, celebrated the role of MIT’s faculty and students in advancing the fields of economics and finance, in putting the latest developments into practice, and in contributing to the design of public policy.

Nobel Prize in Economics


Peter Diamond receives Nobel in Sweden

Institute Professor Peter Diamond PhD ’63 will collect the Nobel Prize in economics on Friday, Dec. 10, during a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Sweden. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen of Northwestern University and Christopher A. Pissarides of the London School of Economics won the prize for their analysis of “markets with search frictions,” which roughly equates to any setting in which buyers and sellers don’t easily find one another.

US Constitution


Maier's Ratification delivers new knowledge about the adoption of the US Constitution, the most consequential debate in American history

"A stunning examination of... 'the beginning of American national politics' — the debate that explains the way we Americans govern ourselves, resolve disputes, conduct diplomacy, choose leaders and protect our freedoms." 

Jesse Little Doe Baird

Jessie Little Doe Baird SM'00 receives 2010 MacArthur Fellowship

Award honors her work to revive Wampanoag (Wôpanâak), a language once spoken by tens of thousands of people, which became extinct in the 19th century.

Fox Harrell


Harrell convenes thought-leaders to catalyze new research informed by science, humanities, and arts disciplines.

Bringing together the resources of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Associate Professor Fox Harrell has led a joint workshop focused on research informed by both the arts and sciences. 55 thought leaders gathered to explore the goal of using technology to better understand society—and using the humanities and arts to build creative computational systems.


School offers courses for Studies in Energy Minor

MIT's energy minor provides a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the policy, economics, science and technology of energy. All MIT undergraduate students now have a new academic option available: a minor in energy, which can be combined with any major subject. The minor is inherently cross-disciplinary, encompassing all of MITs five schools. SHASS-based courses include: Environmental Policy and Economics; Energy Economics and Policy; and Energy, Environment, and Society.