Sampler of MIT research on Governance, Justice,
and Civic Engagement
Research to Policy
Basic research in the humanities, arts, and social science fields is the engine for the School's capacity to effect positive change around the globe. The research of MIT's social scientists informs policymaking in many areas, including healthcare, poverty alleviation, the environmnent and climate, education, energy, food and water, elections, security, and economic well-being and equity.
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. More
MAKING TECHNOLOGY SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY
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 this fall in a new class called "Elections and Voting Technology." 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 (EECS), the class explored challenges embedded in election systems from both the technical and the political science perspective—providing students with insights into the complexities of a system many thought they understood. More
COMMONSENSE GOVERNANCE FOR REGULATIONS
MIT anthropologist Susan Silbey and colleagues 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.
LABOR MARKET INSTITUTIONS
Incremental reforms could make capitalism a more equitable system | Kathleen Thelen
In Varieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity, MIT political scientist Kathleen Thelen examines contemporary changes in labor market institutions in the United States, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, focusing on developments in three arenas: industrial relations, vocational education and training, and labor market policy. Thelen finds that there are distinct varieties of liberalization associated with very different distributive outcomes.
About the book | Interview with Thelen
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. More
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT ON DEMOCRACY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
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.
GOVERNANCE AND CRISIS
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.
More + Video of the Forum
THEORY TO PRACTIVE TO POLICY
MIT 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. A series of six panels, which included Nobel laureates, policy makers, and academic and industry experts, addressed three broad questions: • What are the key recent scientific developments and the major unresolved issues of economics and finance? • What are the central challenges in economic policy? • How can one assess the contributions of, and limitations of, recent advances in financial economics?
Story + On Demand Videos
ON THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
All the difference in the world | Daron Acemoglu
In a recent book, economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson assert that above all else, political institutions — not culture or natural resources — determine the wealth of nations.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News
UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
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."
UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
A Tocqueville for our Time
MIT Historian Arthur Kaledin's new book re-evaluates of Democracy in America, and emphasizes Alexis de Tocqueville’s doubts and concerns about politics in the United States.
Story at MIT News
CAN CORPORATIONS SOLVE INCOME INEQUALITY?
What can be done about income inequality? | Robert Solow
Redistributing income with taxes and transfers is largely failing to close the income gap. Perhaps it’s time to try a corporate approach.
Story at the New York Times
THE POLITICS OF TWO AMERICAS
A tangled fate of prosperity and struggle | Daron Acemoglu
For MIT Economist Acemoglu, the co-author of Why Nations Fail, the split personality of these years of crisis and recovery is “no puzzle.” “The United States is still the most innovative country in the world,” he said. The problem, he says, is that the innovations produced by the thriving set don’t necessarily translate into jobs for struggling people.
Story at The New York Times
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
To end slump, United States must spend
In MIT remarks, former Treasury secretary Larry Summer calls for the ‘common sense’ cure of more government spending to spur growth. “No thoughtful person can look at the U.S. economy today and believe that the principal constraint on expansion of output and employment is anything other than the lack of demand experienced by firms,” Summers said. That is, not enough consumers in the country have sufficient spending power; government programs employing more people would change that, he asserted. “If the private sector is either unable or unwilling to borrow and spend on a sufficient scale, then there is a substantial role for government in doing that.”
Saving Social Security | Peter Diamond
The MIT Professor emeritus of Economics and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in economics answers the big question of how to fix social security. "Diamond is an expert on public finance, especially Social Security, and has consulted for various government agencies on the program throughout the years. With Peter Orszag, he coauthored Saving Social Security: A Balanced Approach, which proposed shoring up the program through gradual, progressive benefit cuts and increases in the payroll tax rate." (Washington Post)
Paper at Brookings | Article at New Republic | Interview at the Washington Post