News Archive 2018

School news from 2018.

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.  More

MIT ranked No.2 university worldwide for Arts and Humaniites

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been ranked No. 2 worldwide in the "Arts and Humanitise" subject category in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The Arts and Humanities 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.  More

MIT reshapes itself to shape the future

Gift of $350 million establishes the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, an unprecedented commitment to world-changing breakthroughs and their ethical application. "Faculty in a range of departments have a great deal to gain from new kinds of algorithmic tools," says Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, "and a great deal of insight to offer their makers.” More

Inside the world of livestreaming as entertainment
T.L. Taylor looks at how computer gaming and other forms of online broadcasting became big-time spectator sports.


The World of A.I.

Judging by the breathless coverage, it can seem as if the only countries developing A.I. are the United States and China. But it’s still early for the industry and other nations are working hard to become major A.I. players. More

MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future announces advisory and research boards

Leaders from industry, academia, labor, government, foundations, andother organizations, as well as leading scholars in related fields, will provide guidance. More

Online hate is spreading; Internet platforms can't stop it

Media companies have not figured out what to do about the threats and abuse that pollute their platforms. More

Will there be a ban on killer robots?

Without a nonproliferation agreement, some diplomats fear the world will plunge into an algorithm-driven arms race. “A lot of A.I. technologies are being developed outside of government and released to the public. These technologies have generic capabilities that can be applied in many different domains, including in weaponization.” More

Volha Charnysh examines the aftermath of violence
Investigating the political and economic consequences of large-scale deadly conflict, Charnysh discovers that community-level interactions make a big impact.



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'?" More

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.”  More

MIT alumnus William Nordhaus wins Nobel Prize in economic sciences
Scholar shares award for his work on climate economics.


Starting new conversations about identity abroad
New MISTI programs provide a platform for student dialogue on diversity in international travel, study, and work.


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. More

Election Insights | 2018
Christine Walley on Work, Stories, and American Identity

"Building bridges requires going to the experiential core of our own stories, developing interpretations to make sense of them — and also listening carefully to the stories of others." More

book installation

Reading for the Midterm Elections 2018

As the 2018 midterms approach, MIT SHASS faculty offer a selection of books to consider for your reading list along with notes on the insights each book holds for this moment in American history. More

Election Insights 2018
Musical Playlist | from the MIT Music community

As America heads toward the 2018 midterm elections on November 6, MIT's Music community has prepared a wide-ranging Election Playlist as well as brief commentaries on why each work is recommended for this election season. More

Young women at the Women's March in Washington DC

Helen Elaine Lee | On Women Candidates of Color

"A record number of women have filed as candidates this year, and a record number have won primaries in House and Senate races. Even if these milestones don’t result in a slew of wins in November, these candidates have changed established notions of what is possible." More

We, the People document

Election Insights 2018
Daron Acemoglu | On Civil Society and Democracy

"What is written in a constitution can take a nation only so far unless society is willing to act to protect it. We have to keep reminding ourselves that the future of our much-cherished institutions depends not on others but on ourselves, and that we are all individually responsible for our institutions." More

community group organizing for justice

Election Insights 2018
Sasha Costanza-Chock | On Media Technology and Immigration Policy

"The new wave of intersectional social movements, largely led by social media–savvy younger women and femmes of color, is the key to a transformation of our polity that represents the dreams and aspirations of the new millennial majority."  More

Election Insights 2018
Vipin Narang | On the US / North Korea Relationship

"The North Korean nuclear program is not something to be 'solved' — that window has closed — it is an issue to be managed. The good news is that the United States has a lot of experience managing the emergence of new nuclear weapons powers." More

Election Insights 2018
Justin Khoo | On Democracy and Civic Discourse

"Elections are helpful reminders (as if we needed any) that we do not all agree. We must somehow figure out how to get along despite our disagreements. In particular, we may wonder whether, and to what extent, we should tolerate views we disagree with. Is discursive intolerance, in some cases, required to promote a well-functioning marketplace of ideas?" More

red and blue boxing gloves

Election Insights 2018
Devin Caughey | On Contermporary Partisan Politics

"There are no easy solutions to polarization, but one possible way to ameliorate it is to make political parties stronger. One of the ironies of contemporary American politics is that partisanship is strong, but parties are, in important respects, weak." More

bullet hole in glass window

Election Insights 2018
John Tirman | On Reducing Gun Violence

"A social movement to challenge America's reslient gun culture has rocked politics for the first time in a generation, and might shake up congressional complacency in the midterm elections." More

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.  More

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. More

Election Insights 2018
Jennifer Light | On Social Media and Youth Political Engagement

"Although discussions about youth and new media tend to assume that it is something about the technology itself that is responsible for political and social changes, in fact, the political possibilities associated with contemporary media are highly contingent upon societal power structures." More

Report outlines keys to securing elections
MIT experts are among co-authors calling for ballot paper trails and other resilient practices to avoid election hacking.


David Deveau blends old Europe and contemporary Cambridge
Pianist Deveau’s latest album interprets works by Beethoven, Mozart, and MIT’s own John Harbison.


What makes an educational video game work well?
MIT designers explain their philosophy in a new book, "Resonant Games"


3Q: In Song Kim’s shines a bright light on Washington lobbying makes it simple to follow the path of money in politics.


Civil rights in a complex world
Professor Bruno Perreau examines the relationships between personal identity and public institutions.



What Paris shows us about photography

In The Cliché of History, Catherine Clark develops a new narrative about photography and how it influences history, memory, and identity. More

The economics of being an early-career scientist
Doctoral student Ryan Hill studies factors that influence researchers' professional paths


detail of Piketty chart

Interview | Economist Thomas Piketty on globalization and growing inequality
On the occasion of the 2018 World Economic History Congress at MIT

"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 More

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. More

Clapperton Mavhunga

How Africans Developed Scientific Knowledge of the Deadly Tsetse Fly

“I wanted the reader to appreciate how language, deployed as a tool to silence African modes of knowledge, can be mobilized as a tool to recover that same knowledge. In a sense, the book hopes to excite younger scholars — and Africans! — to investigate, imagine, and make science from Africa."  More

Seth Mnookin brings bestselling author's touch to teaching science journalism
Science "pushes me to constantly go out of my comfort zone," says director of MIT's science writing program


Environmental regulation in a polarized culture
Doctoral student Parrish Bergquist investigates how politics affect enviromental decision-making


Sasha Costanza-Chock wins Journal of Design & Science essay competition
CMS/W professor examines “Design Justice, AI, and Escape from the Matrix of Domination”



Ideas Matter series hosts explorations 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.​  More


J-Pal launches energy and environment projects
The J-PAL Environment & Energy Initiative aims to help identify cost-effective solutions to the energy and environment challenges that confront developing countries. More

Lisa Parks contemplates the eyes in the sky

Media studies scholar examines the way satellites and other aerial technologies have changed society More


J-PAL develops guide to measure women and girls' empowerment

In order to design effective policies and programs, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners must be able to accurately measure women’s and girls’ empowerment. A new research resource from the SHASS-based Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) addresses this challenge. More

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. More

Interview: Historian Anne McCants on 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." More


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. More

Three new faculty member 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 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. More

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



Amy Finkelstein emphasizes the value of late-in-life health care spending

Study debunks notion that large chunks of Medicare go to futile end-of-life care More

HASTS student discovers hidden stories in Flint water crisis
Graduate student Elena Sobrino looks beyond the headlines to study interactions between the city’s people and institutions.


Professor Abadie invents new methods for economic research
Alberto Abadie refines the tools of economics — and gets some interesting results along the way.


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells MIT grads "it's about people"
Commencement speaker says the greatest opportunities are for humans, not technology


As 52 HASS PhDs graduate, a call to make the world “more just, more fair”
SHASS alum Candis Callison SM ’02, PhD ’10 speaks at hooding ceremony


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. More


William Rodriguez: Helping others broaden their horizons

MIT senior and Model UN leader William Rodriguez works to encourage the global exchange of ideas More

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. More


Study by Devin Caughey demonstrates the people's power.

New study shows that state-level policy in the U.S. is responsive to public opinion. More


The Task of History

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


Two SHASS professors show that for food-aid recipients, information is power

Profs. Olken and Banerjee describe how a simple card explaining a government aid program leads to more rice for poor villagers in Indonesia. More


Amy Finkelstein elected to National Academy of Sciences

Economist Finkelstein and three others from MIT — Kardar, Wen, and Zhang — are honored for research achievements. More


3 Questions: Alan Lightman on science and the life of the spirit

Lightman's new book, “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine,” examines the tensions between belief and knowing. More


Economist Dave Donaldson asks: How much does infrastructure boost an economy?

Donaldson's historical study details how railroads helped India trade and grow. More


Parag Pathak wins John Bates Clark Medal

MIT economist lauded for work on education, market-design mechanisms  More

MIT economists Parag Pathak and Nancy Rose elected to AAAS

Honor society announces 213 new members, eight from MIT. More


Jasmin Joseph: "I love the idea of making an impact on global health"

MIT senior and varsity softball co-captain brings positivity and determination to life-saving biology research. More

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 More

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.  More

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.

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. More


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 More

Caley Horan, MIT historian


Historian Caley Horan on the rise of private insurance in the U.S.

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. More

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 More

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. More

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. More


Is democracy dying?

At a recent Starr Forum, scholars and journalists examined the current pressures on democratic systems of rule and suggested some measures to protect them. Held in the Stata Center, the event drew a standing-room only crowd of more than 300. More


MMA analyzes 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. More


How often do medical problems lead to bankruptcy?

A new study, co-authored by MIT economist Amy Finkelstein, finds that poor health is a less common cause of bankruptcy than commonly thought, but that it brings other economic woes. More

MIT SHASS and De Florez Fund welcome comedian Vanessa Bayer

MIT SHASS and the De Florez Fund for Humor welcome Vanessa Bayer with Mikey Day and Chris Redd for a free performance on Sunday, April 8 at 7:00 pm More

3Q: T.L. Taylor on diversity in e-sports

MIT sociologist’s “AnyKey” initiative aims to level the playing field of online sports. More


The writing on the wall

Did humans speak through cave art? New paper by MIT linguist links ancient drawings and language’s origins. More


Ouch: Study reveals financial pain after hospitalization

A study co-authored by an MIT economist reveals that hospitalization and the health problems that cause it lead to a 20 percent drop in earnings and an 11 percent drop in employment for adults between ages 50 and 59, among other negative effects. More

MIT launches Task Force on the Work of the Future

Institute-wide effort will study the evolution of jobs in an age of technological advancement. Members represent fields from engineering and cognitive science to economics, management, political science, anthropology, education innovation, and the history of technology. More


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?" More

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.   More

Facing new facts from MIT's past

Letter from President L. Rafael Reif on MIT and the legacy of slavery More

Economist Christina Romer ’85 to give 2018 Muh Award lecture

Economist Christina Romer PhD ’85 has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Robert A. Muh Alumni Award in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in recognition for her contributions to the field of economics. More


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? More

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. More

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. More


3Q: Nick Montfort on shaping the future

“Whether you’re an entrepreneur or in an established business, an activist, writer, or artist: How have people productively engaged the future?” More


Innovation, meet organization

Economist John Van Reenen studies the creation and use of technology, from the R&D lab to the workplace. More

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. More


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." More