Mens et Manus America Initiative
Exploring current social, political, and economic challenges in the U.S.

"This initiative is something that is right at the heart of what MIT stands for. We believe in solving important problems, contributing collectively wherever we can."

— Thomas Kochan, George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management



In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it is clear that there are major long-term social, political, and economic issues in America that require close attention. In response, members of the MIT community have launched Mens et Manus America, a non-partisan initiative that is convening a series of research-informed lectures and discussions to explore these issues.

We are asking: What can MIT do to help address current challenges in the U.S., and bolster the health of our democracy? How can we use research and rigor to inform our decisions about engagement, both as citizens and as leaders of organizations?

Join us as we frame the issues and generate ideas for making a positive impact!


Events In Planning | 2017
Vote on questions to explore + add new questions:
Mens et Manus America: Wiki Survey Page




Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World | 
A conversation with Jason Jay, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School
Light lunch served; Session begins promptly at 11:35am 

Think of the last time you tried to talk to someone about social, environment, or political issues where you didn't already agree. How well did it go? These conversations are critical for our families, organizations, and democracy, but too often get stuck. MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay will hold an interactive workshop based on his new book Breaking Through Gridlock, giving personalized guidance on how to get unstuck. Join us if you are ready to go beyond "preaching to the choir" and lead change across the lines. This is the fourth event in the Mens et Manus America series, exploring current social, political, and economic challenges in the U.S.      


Monday, May 1, 2017
Can We Solve the Politics of Misinformation?
A Conversation on their research with Ezra Zuckerman Sivan and Adam Berinsky
Moderator: Agustín Rayo, Professor of Philosophy
Light lunch served at 11:30am, Conversation 12-1pm

Why do voters believe lies and questionable political claims? 
In the wake of recent elections, both in the US and abroad, many observers have questioned why voters place their trust in candidates who disregard the facts and the truth. Berinsky’s recent research provides striking evidence that voters on either side of a partisan divide are apt to interpret their candidate’s false statements as true. Zuckerman’s recent research demonstrates that when voters feel that the political process is unjust, they appreciate lying demagoguery as symbolic protest. Join us as Professor Rayo guides a discussion to generate ideas for productive change. Ezra Zuckerman Sivan is the Siteman Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the MIT Sloan School. Adam Berinsky is a Professor of Political Science in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.


March 23, 2017
Strangers in Their Own Land
A Conversation with Arlie Russell Hochschild
11:30am - 1pm | Bartos Theater

Video of the Event | Story on MIT SHASS News

Hochschild, Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, discussed her new book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. The talk was followed by discussion and a book signing. One of the most influential sociologists of her generation, Hochschild is the author of nine books, including The Second ShiftThe Time BindThe Managed Heartand The Outsourced Self.
About the book | New York Times review | Video of the Event

“In her attempt to climb over the ‘empathy wall’ and understand the emotional lives of her political adversaries, Arlie Hochschild gives us a vital roadmap to bridging the deep divides in our political landscape and renewing the promise of American democracy.”

— Joan Blades, co-founder, Living Room Conversations

February 16, 2017
Launch Event | Exit Zero Screening 
Documentary Film + Discussion
Story on MIT SHASS News | Film Trailer

“If we really want to understand why there is this expanding class inequality in the United States, one of the places we have to look is the long-term impact of deindustrialization. We have to think historically about how we got into this position and how we can come out of it.”

— Christine Walley, MIT Professor of Anthropology




Mens et Manus America Summer Action Learning Opportunity

Mens et Manus America, Sloan Good Companies Good Jobs Initiative, and the Action Learning office are pleased to announce a summer internship opportunity focused on social impact, economic development, and jobs in de-industrialized/rural regions of the U.S.
Follow this link for further details and write to Chris Kelly ( or Barbara Dyer ( with any questions.


Beyond attending events and participating in the discussions, you can become engaged as a member of the Mens et Manus America steering committee, or by serving as a project partner.

The Steering Committee consists of a small number of faculty, staff, and students who:
— Design and execute the speaker series based on input from faculty and students
— Design and execute the discussions
— Support logistics and communication efforts driven by the SHASS Dean’s Office and Sloan Student Life
— Continue to develop new ideas as the initiative progresses
— Join in weekly planning sessions

Project Partners receive periodic updates from the Steering Committee and serve as evangelists for the initiative and its programs and events. They may also serve as extra hands to support the initiative’s efforts in other ad-hoc ways as needed. They may be asked to contribute ideas or feedback to the Steering Committee. Project Partners are not expected to commit to attending regular meetings.

To join the Steering Committee or to become a Project Partner, contact: 
MIT SHASS Associate Dean Agustín Rayo:



Sponsored by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (MIT SHASS) and the Sloan School of Management (Sloan), the initiative is led by Ezra Zuckerman Sivan, Deputy Dean of Sloan, and Agustín Rayo, Associate Dean, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, with participation by many MIT students and members of the Sloan and MIT SHASS faculties and staff. 

Agustín Rayo
Professor of Philosophy, Associate Dean, MIT SHASS

Ezra Zuckerman Sivan
Siteman Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Deputy Dean, MIT Sloan

Catherine Gamon
Director, MIT Sloan Student Life Office


Suggested links

Story: At MIT, sociologist Arlie Hochschild discusses U.S. political divisions
Recommends three pillars of action for finding common ground

Story: Mens et Manus America launches with film documentary

Wiki:  Mens et Manus America: Wiki Survey Page

21st Century Citizenship | MIT Resources for Understanding and Engagement

Op-Ed: How to declare war on coal’s emissions without declaring war on coal communities
"The move to clean energy is imperative. In the long run, that transition will create more jobs than it destroys. But that is no comfort to families whose livelihoods and communities have collapsed along with the demand for coal. We owe something to the people who do the kind of dangerous and difficult work my grandfathers did so that we can power our modern economy."

3Q:  Maria Zuber, daughter of coal country
MIT’s vice president for research describes how growing up in eastern Pennsylvania shaped her views on climate policy.

Mens et Manus American communications prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial and Design Director: Emily Hiestand
Senior Writer: Kathryn O'Neill
Office of the Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences