Inside the Classroom
A Gallery of Stories about MIT SHASS classes and students
 


Professor of the Practice Eran Egozy (Left) with a student in the Music Technology Class


100% of MIT undergraduates study the humanities, arts, and social sciences — and our graduate students earn masters and doctoral degrees in seven world-class fields.

MIT's SHASS fields are vital to solving the societal, political, and economic dimensions of the world’s most urgent problems. They also help students shape successful careers — and lives that are rich in meaning and wisdom.


In the SHASS fields, MIT providea opportunities for our multi-dimensional students to explore, to cultivate talents, to delve into special affinities for, say, speculative fiction, music tech, composing, or performance, ethics, logic, the ancient world, justice, theater arts, policy-making — or dozens of other explorations.

 

portrait of MIT historian Sana Aiyar

IN THE CLASSROOM

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 Bettina Stoetzer, MIT anthropologist

SOLVING CLIMATE

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."

Sunset with Soundwave overlay

INNOVATION | DIGITAL HUMANITIES

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.

MIT economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

PANDEMIC

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.

illustration by Manzel Bowman, woman's head in profile

IN THE CLASSROOM

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.

globe and coronavirus form

IN THE CLASSROOM | PANDEMIC

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.

March for Science, signs

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

Portrait of Nasir Almasri '21

MEET OUR STUDENTS

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.

Annaul Olin and family

MIT INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE INITIATIVE

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. 

detail, data visualization

IN THE CLASSROOM

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. 

Detail, Delacroix painting, Liberty guiding the people

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

Timothy Loh, MIT doctoral student

MEET OUR DOCTORAL STUDENTS

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."

Anthropology and Studio Art Class

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

The Technology of Enchantment
 

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

Detail, a constructed language

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

Marc Aidinoff

VOICES OF MIT SHASS GRADUATE STUDENTS

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."

Carolyn Stein, MIT Economics doctoral candidate

VOICES OF MIT SHASS GRADUATE STUDENTS

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."

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.

MISTI-Australia expands horizons, one adventure at a time
 

Exploring new cultures and conserve the Great Barrier Reef ​

VOICES OF MIT SHASS GRADUATE STUDENTS

Communities in the Cloud
 

Anthropology PhD student Steven Gonzalez studies the Cloud from within.

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

Ivy Li '20

Picturing The Faerie Queene
 

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

sound wave and music tech gear

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

polar bear and logic equations

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

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

Sandra Rodriguez

INSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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.

RESEARCH | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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?"

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.  

MIT Philosopher Justin Khoo

CITIZENSHIP | IMPACT OF LANGUAGE

Applying philosophy for a better democracy
 

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