News Archive 2020

School news from 2020.

MIT INFORMATION + RESOURCES

MIT's Covid-19 Info Center
 

All the latest MIT updates, guidance, and resources to help support you during this challenging time

media icons

MIT SHASS MEDIA PUBLICATIONS

At-A-Glance | List of external media publications
 

Research-based insights, for policy and public understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic, from the MIT-SHASS academic community

Portrait of MIT Historian Emma Teng

THE MEANINGS OF MASKS

The mask as 公德心 (Public Spiritedness) | Emma Teng
 

"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."

MIT Economics entrance

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

COVID-19 Research Working Papers from MIT Economics
 

As research continues into Covid-19 and its impact on many facets of life, MIT Economics has collected all the faculty's working papers on one page. 

nurse testing for covid-19

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Conditions needed to reopen the U.S. economy
 

Here’s what economists say the U.S. needs in order to start returning to normal amid the coronavirus outbreak — and how the economy can survive in the meantime.

photo of Kathleen Thelen, MIT political scientist

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Europe has kept down pandemic unemploymentand the U.S. hasn’t. Here’s why.
 

Kathleen Thelen, Ford Professor of Political Science, examines disparities in US and European unemployment rates in the face of Covid-19

Portrait of Professor Anne McCants

EDUCATION + DAILY LIFE

Faculty Reflections | Anne McCants, Professor of History
 

An ongoing series of notes from the Director of the MIT Concourse Program for her students and others during the pandemic

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Life Under Quarantine
 

MIT economist Jeffrey E. Harris reflects on the economics of quarantine in a series of articles.

EDUCATION | SCIENCE WRITERS

Undark magazine | Covid-19 coverage
 

Undark, the acclaimed magazine from our Knight Science Journalism Program, provides ongoing, in-depth journalistic coverage by science writers on SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Melissa Nobles, Dean and Professor of Political Science at MIT

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY | RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

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, MIT Kenan Sahin Dean and Professor of Political Science, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

election workers

ELECTION 2020

The Stanford-MIT Health Elections project
 

Working together to promote integrity, safety, and equal access in the 2020 U.S. election.

ELECTION 2020

Nationwide experts make 14 urgent recommendations for the 2020 elections. Learn what citizens can do to help.
 

This is an historic American document. "Fair Elections During a Crisis" outlines 14 urgent recommendations by a nationwide team of U.S. election experts, including MIT Professor Charles Stewart III, founder of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.

Voting by mail is safe, honest, and fair

ELECTION 2020

Voting by mail in the U.S. is safe, honest, and fair. Let's put the vote-by-mail 'fraud' myth to rest.
 

In The Hill, election experts Charles Stewart III of MIT and Amber McReynolds write that claims by some politicians that voting-by-mail would lead to massive voter fraud are "simply not true. Vote fraud in the United States is exceedingly rare, with mailed ballots and otherwise."

portrait of Prof Charles Stewart III

ELECTION 2020

3Q with Charles Stewart III: How to make the November 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."

Vote button

ELECTION 2020

The Stanford-MIT Project on a Healthy Election

This project addresses the unprecedented and ongoing threat that the Covid-19 pandemic poses to the 2020 elections, bringing academics and election administration experts together to assess and promote best practices to ensure the election can proceed with integrity, safety, and equal access.

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Resources from the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

voting booths

ELECTION 2020 | VOTING BY MAIL

Ten recommendations for conducting a healthy and trustworthy 2020 election
 

In Lawfare, ten recommendations from MIT election expert Charles Stewart III and Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law. "The Covid-19 pandemic...requires an extraordinary commitment at all levels of government, and from the media, political parties, campaigns and voters. The country can meet this challenge if Americans begin to prepare immediately."

Portrait of Helen Elaine Lee

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Everyone's work
 

Professor of Writing Helen Elaine Lee calls for more engagement in creating racial justice.

portrait of Professor Heather Hendershot

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES

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.

HEALTHCARE

Data suggest younger cohorts transmit their infections to less socially mobile older adults
 

Economist Jeffrey Harris delivers his findings in a preprint paper

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." With this series of commentaries, MIT faculty explore the myriad historic, creative, and cultural meanings of masks. One common denominator: that in this pandemic era, wearing a mask means: "I care about you."

portrait of Professor Eric Klopfer

THE MEANINGS OF MASKS

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."

Protest Mask: I Can't Breathe

THE MEANINGS OF MASKS

A collective cry for justice | Graham M. Jones
Anthropology
 

"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."

CMSW emblem

RACIAL EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

A Path Forward
 

Statement from the faculty of the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing program

Portrait of Professor of History Malick Ghachem

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Voices from the MIT Community Vigil
 

Historian Malick Ghachem delivers remarks on a divided moment.

portrait of Professor Sandy Alexandre

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Words + Words + Words
 

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

HEALTH AND MEDICINE

MIT Community Wellness
 

Community Wellness at MIT Medical has compiled numerous resources to help individuals reduce stress, build routine, and find connection. MIT community members can register for free virtual wellness classes, parenting resources, and more. 

ETHICS, COMPUTING, AND AI

A responsible path to computing advances
 

Professor David Kaiser and Julie Shah lead initiative to embed ethical and social responsibilities in MIT's computing and advanced tech education, research, and community engagements.

hands on piano

THE ARTS

Arts from Anywhere
 

During this time of physical distancing to limit the spread of Covid-19, the Arts at MIT offer ways to stay connected to the MIT Arts Community from wherever you are.

Planet Earth

CLIMATE SPOTLIGHT 2020

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 climate change and mitigating its myriad social and ecological impacts.  

matches burning, interrupted

PANDEMIC

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.

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.

Young man in the MIT Orchestra

THE ARTS

The Listening Room
 

A curated collection of outstanding works from MIT's Music Program

detail, balcony illustration by Maria Medem, The New York Times

DAILY LIFE

An ode to the humble balcony
 

In The New York Times, Bernardo Zacka writes: "[A balcony] is private, yet public; exposed, yet secluded. It offers company without the demands of intimacy, and we should never take it for granted again."

Photo of MIT anthropologist Heather Paxson

DAILY LIFE

Taking refuge in the kitchen
 

Heather Paxson talks with the Radcliffe Institute on how the pandemic is changing the ways we eat.

MAKING A JUST SOCIETY

Honoring Juneteenth 2020
 

Juneteenth, the earliest known public celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. took place on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas. The day 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. In 2020, the day will include demonstrations to call for an end to systemic racism. 

MIT t-shirt

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

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.

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Voices from Global Languages
 

Members of the Class of 2020 on their language studies

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Salute to the 2020 Literature graduates
 

This year’s Literature majors received degrees from two MIT Schools.

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Salute to the 2020 MIT Political Science graduates
 

Leveraging unique undergraduate opportunities, MIT political science majors pursue bright post-graduation prospects.

ELECTION 2020

Voting by Mail is honest and fair — and essential for safe 2020 elections
 

The Brennan Center for Justice find that "Mail ballots are essential for holding a safe election amid Covid-19, and security concerns can be easily addressed."

photo of Kathryn Jiang ' 20

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

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.”

illustration of a Norse Viking ship

EDUCATION | THE ARTS

Partiing advice from MIT historian Eric Goldberg to the students in his Vikings class

Based on the advice from Odin in the Old Norse poem Hávamál (Sayings of the High One)

potrait of Jia Hui Lee

THE ARTS | EDUCATION

"An Index for the Time Being" | Poetry by Jia Hui Lee
 

In 21W.771 (Writing Poetry Workshop), taught by acclaimed poet Erica Funkhouser, Lee creates a work for this moment of isolation.

photo of Kyle Markland

THE ARTS

Quaranteen | by Kyle Markland '22

A pandemic anthem written and produced by scientist/engineer/musician/composer Kyle Markland '22, who also plays in the MIT Symphony Orchestra.

portrait of Emily Soice, MIT '20

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Emily Soice ’20 | Environmental Engineering + Music
 

"I came to MIT to be an environmental engineer. I've always loved the environment and wanted to protect it. We also need leadership, which is what I've learned the most in music." 

MIT health economist Jon Gruber

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Can the economy recover in parts of the country as early as May 2020? (No.)
 

In an interview with ABC News, professor of economics Jonathan Gruber discusses the benefits of the stimulus package, and says that social distancing and economic measures “won’t end until we have a vaccine.”

portrait of Oprah Winfrey

DAILY LIFE

A Conversation: Alan Lightman and Oprah Winfrey
 

In this conversation, part of Winfrey's 2020 Vision Tour, Oprah talks with MIT physicist and writer Alan Lightman about the presence, authenticity, and meanings of spiritual experience. 

Portrait of Justin Reich

EDUCATION

The biggest distance-learning experiment in history
 

On NPR's All Things Considered, Justin Reich, CMS/W Assistant Professor, and director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab reflects on best practices for remote learning.  Plus a link to collection of all Reich's recent public commentaries. 

THE ARTS | LITERATURE

MIT Reads
 

MIT Reads is an all-MIT reading experience that aims to build community and foster understanding. Events and discussions are open to the entire MIT community.

portrait of Claudia Chen

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

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."

detail, data visualization

PROGRAM IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY

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

ANTHROPOLOGY

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.

Photo of an American state capitol building

RESEARCH

J-PAL North America | Covid19 Evidence Portal
 

The new Covid19 Evidence Portal synthesizes rigorous research across health, education, and the social safety net to provide recommendations to state and local leaders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

medical ventilator

ECONOMIC IMPACTS + HEALTHCARE ETHICS

MIT economist Parag Pathak shares a new research paper about ventilator rationing schemes.
 

New Paper: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rationing of medical resources has become a critical issue. Nearly all existing triage protocols are based on a priority point system, in which an explicit formula specifies the order in which the total supply of a particular resource, such as a ventilator, is to be rationed for eligible patients.

DAILY LIFE

What the pandemic tells us about personal identity
 

Kieran Setiya writes in The New Statesman: "We have become more used to seeing others through screens and software, but we are embodied beings and digital communication can feel lacking. What effect will this have on us?" 

COMPUTING AND AI | HUMANISTIC PERSEPCTIVES FROM MIT

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."

Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

COMPUTING AND AI: HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES FROM MIT

Foreword | Dean Melissa Nobles
 

"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. Together, the commentaries in this series offer a guidebook to myriad productive ways that humanistic, scientific, and technical fields can join forces at MIT and elsewhere."

Dancer, in Call to Unite performance

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | PERFORMANCE

A Call To Unite, by the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation
 

The finalé of Ailey's "Revelations" ballet transformed for the pandemic era; performed and published by the Alvin Alley Dance Foundation

AI information network

ETHICS, COMPUTING, AND AI

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.

Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean

ETHICS, COMPUTING, AND AI | PERSPECTIVES FROM MIT

Foreword | Melissa Nobles
 

"These commentaries implore us to be collaborative, foresighted, and courageous as we shape the new Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, and to proceed with judicious humility. Rightly so. We are embarking on an endeavor that will influence nearly every aspect of the human future."

portrait of Talia Khan '20

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Profile: 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.”

HUMOR AND HEALTH

Why we need humor at a time like this
 

At Oxford University Press blog, William Costanzo explores the social and medicinal aspects of humor.

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | MUSIC

"Ode to Joy" online
 

Beethoven’s "Ode to Joy" performed by members of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra while keeping #StayAtHome protocols. 

flag with the word "vote"

ELECTION 2020

Connecting with voters in a time of social distancing
 

In Scientific American, J-PAL affiliate Donald P. Green shares research on a powerful way to get out the vote without having to canvas in person.

Portrait of Albert Camus

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | LITERATURE

Camus on the Coronavirus
 

Writing in The New York Times, philosopher Alain de Botton says that Camus "reminds us that suffering is random, and that is the kindest thing one can say about it."

Photo of Dr. Jim Walsh

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES

Will the Covid-19 pandemic change national security strategy?
 

At MIT’s Starr Forum, experts consider if the coronavirus crisis will catalyze savvier 21st C. security strategies: e.g., to include health care, aid for workers and communities, protection for democracy, and increased international collaboration to manage novel pathogens.

photo of choir members on Zoom grid

THE ARTS

"The Longest Time" (quarantine edition)
 

Members of Canadian choirs perform a new version of Billy Joel's "The Longest Time."

photo of student studying online

EDUCATION

Rolling out remote learning at MIT
 

MIT News — Meghan Perdue, MIT-SHASS digital learning fellow, catalyzes MIT’s plans to shift to online teaching in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

illustration of an app

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES

The tension between privacy and coronavirus contact-tracing
 

KSJ Fellow Anil Ananthaswamy writes in The Boston Globe that "We have to ensure that contact-tracing methods that compromise our privacy don’t become the norm."

Detail, etching of Isaac Newton

DAILY LIFE

The truth about Isaac Newton’s productive plague
 

In The New Yorker, MIT Professor of Science Writing Tom Levenson writes that the idea that the plague woke the brilliance in Newton is both wrong and misleading.

hand drawing wind turbines

CLIMATE 2020 | HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES FROM MIT

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 Jeffrey E Harris - economist and physician

HEALTH + ECONOMIC IMPACTS | TELEMEDICINE

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.

wash your hands sign

HEALTHCARE + ECONOMIC IMPACTS

J-PAL's response to Covid-19
 

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) has organized an ongoing, evolving response to the Covid-19 pandemic. See initiatives for off-cycle funding rounds for Covid-related research projects. 

photo of Sandy Alexandre, MIT Professor of Literature

INNOVATION

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.  

photo of Adam Berinsky

ELECTION 2020

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

SHASS Communications interview "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."

ECONOMIC IMPACTS + HEALTH

Why we need to ease access to the safety net — now
 

In Governing magazine, MIT health economist Amy Finkelstein writes the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic is making benefit programs more important than ever.

sick leave emblem

ECONOMIC IMPACTS | HEALTH POLICY

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber calls for federal sick leave program in wake of the pandemic
 

On Boston Public Radio, Gruber warns that without federal intervention the lack of economic productivity due to workers missing work could lead to a chain of events that ripples through the economy.

Portrait of Professor Amy Moran-Thomas

CLIMATE 2020

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.”

Photo of Amy Finkelstein

HEALTH | ECONOMIC IMPACTS

A healthy understanding
 

MIT professor of economics Amy Finkelstein has changed what we know about Medicaid, Medicare, the economics of health care — and, increasingly, medical care itself.

detail, map of NYC subway system

HEALTHCARE + HEALTH ECONOMICS

Subways seeded the massive coronavirus epidemic in New York City
 

In a new working paper, Professor of Economics Jeffrey E. Harris writes that New York City’s multi-tentacled subway system was a major disseminator – if not the principal transmission vehicle – of coronavirus infection.

portrait, MIT STS Professor Kate Brown

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES

The pandemic is not a natural disaster
 

In The New Yorker, historian Kate Brown, a Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, writes that the coronavirus isn’t just a public-health crisis. It’s an ecological one.

Map of the six Great Lakes States

ELECTION 2020

State Election Landscapes: The Great Lakes States
 

For this project, the MIT Election Lab collects an enhanced set of data and descriptive materials about the administration of elections in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Illustration of the Inferno

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | POETRY

Reading of Dante's Inferno
 

Annual reading at the Poet's Corner, St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York City

photo of Hon. James E. Baker

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES | HEALTHCARE

It’s high time we fought this virus the American way
 

The administration has all the authority it needs to produce medical supplies and prepare for a potential vaccine, argues James E Baker in a recent New York Times opinion piece.  

flu pandemic

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | LITERATURE

How pandemics seep into literature
 

Commentary by Elizabeth Outka in The Paris Review: "Covid-19 promises to alter us all in strange ways. It’s a paradigm-shifting event that divides lives and cultures into a before and after. We will emerge changed, though how those changes will manifest is far from certain." 

starry night

THE ARTS | MUSIC FROM MIT

D'amor languire, balatta a due voci
 

A gorgeous, stirring work from 1405, reconstructed by MIT musicologist Michael Cuthbert; composed by by Antonio Zachara da Teramo; and performed by Ensemble Micrologus.

wearing a face mask while voting

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | ELECTION 2020

How to hold elections during a pandemic
 

Recommended by the MIT Election Lab: In the National Review, Joshua Kleinfeld writes that, "The United States is the beacon of democracy around the world. Let’s show the world that no pandemic can stop our elections."

American flag and circuit board collage

ELECTION 2020

Video series from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab
Conducting elections in the age of Covid-19
 

Videos feature election administrators, practitioners, and academic researhers describing preparations for elections that are both safe and secure during the pandemic.

ELECTION 2020 | VOTE BY MAIL

More voting by mail would make the 2020 election safer for our health.
 

Writing in The Washington Post, MIT election expert Charles Stewart III writes why it’s not clear whether “at-home voting” can be ramped up nationwide by November.

MIT Hayden Library

EDUCATION

MIT Libraries | Resources during the Pandemic
 

All MIT Libraries (including 24-hour spaces and book drops) are closed until further notice, but will continue to provide resources, services, and consulting online. 

MIT students in the Playwrights Lab

THE ARTS | MIT THEATER ARTS

Playwrights Lab Festival
 

Student playwrights see their works performed on stage, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between MIT students and theater professionals.

portrait of Miguel Zenon, saxophonist

THE ARTS

En Pie De Lucha (Getting back up for battle)
 

In the wake of the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, MIT’s Festival Jazz Ensemble joins forces with acclaimed musician Miguel Zenón to provide aid. 

the word jazz in neon

THE ARTS

Illuminating Passion: 50 Years of Jazz at MIT
 

​MIT has a vibrant arts scene, and the jazz music program is one of its shining stars.

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble

THE ARTS

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
 

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble performs "Feeling Good," arrangement by Garrett Parrish

painting, 17th century Dutch merchant ships

CLIMATE 2020 | HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES FROM MIT

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."

HEALTH AND MEDICINE

MIT Solve Challenge
 

How can communities around the world prepare for, detect, and respond to emerging pandemics and health security threats?

image of working remotely via the internet

DAILY LIFE | EDUCATION

When the coronavirus pandemic drove life online
 

On NBC News, MIT Professor Sherry Turkle discusses how the pandemic is inspiring people and groups around the world to use the internet in new and creative ways to connect: "The move online could end up changing what it means to be online," she says.

Portrait of anthropologist Manduhai Buhandelger

EDUCATION

An ethnology of disruptions in Cambridge, MA
 

At American Ethnologist, MIT anthropologist Manduhai Buyandelger tracks racism, virtual realities, and world building in Cambridge during the Covid-19 pandemic

DAILY LIFE

The virus is a reminder of something lost long ago
 

In The Atlantic, MIT Professor of Writing Alan Lightman observes that the pandemic may force "many of us to slow down, to spend more time in reflection, away from the noise and heave of the world. With more quiet time, we have an opportunity to think about who we are, as individuals and as a society."

Portrait of Charlotte Minsky '20

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Profile: 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.

Vote by Mail, mailbox

ELECTION 2020

Election officials scrambling to meet pandemic voting challenges
 

In National Memo, MIT Professor of Political Science Charles Stewart III, analyzes the scramble for voting materials, machinery, and manpower — all the behind-the-scenes actions following the seemingly simple decisions by 10 states and territories to postpone primaries until June.

ELECTION 2020 | VOTING BY MAIL

Voting by mail is the hot new idea. Is there time to make it work?
 

In The New York Times, MIT Professor and electoral expert Charles Stewart III discusses how the U.S. states are searching, rapidly, for ways to protect democracy’s most sacred institution.

Portrait of Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES | DEMOCRACY

The Coronavirus exposed America’s authoritarian turn
 

In Foreign Affairs, MIT economist and Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu comments on the slow, inadequate U.S. federal response to the coronavirus threat, noting that independent expertise always dies first when democracy recedes.

detail from xkcg comic

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | XKCD

Pathogen Resistance
 

A web comic from xkcd, by Randall Munroe

HEALTH | VIRUS ORIGINS

KSJ alumna reports on how China’s “Bat Woman” hunted down viruses from SARS to the new Coronavirus
 

In Scientific American, Wuhan-based virologist and KSJ alumna Shi Zhengli has identified dozens of deadly SARS-like viruses in bat caves, and she warns there are more out there

Crabapple Buds in Spring

ELECTIVE AFFINITIES | DAILY LIFE

Old treatments for a novel coronavirus
 

"Of course we want every discovery modern medicine can provide. But to survive this period with our sanity intact, we also need to access timeless aspects of our lives." — Renée Loth in The Boston Globe

Bulldog puppy with laughing expression

DAILY LIFE

Embracing Humor
 

"Many studies have shown that laughter and humor have a huge array of benefits, including strengthening the immune system, reducing pain and stress, and increasing energy. If you are going through a difficult experience or feeling down, humor may accidently find you. Embrace it." 

portrait of Professor Heather Hendershot

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES | OPINION

The virtuous life of MIT Professor John G. Trump
 

In an opinion piece at The Washington Post, MIT media scholar Heather Hendershot delves into the life of President Trump's erudite and charitable uncle, Dr. John Trump '33, who taught at MIT for 40 years.

Portrait of Gov Tom Wolf, PhD '81

HEALTHCARE | STAY AT HOME

Gov. Tom Wolf, PhD '81, Political Science, addresses Pennsylvanians on the Covid-19 Virus
 

Stay at home. This is a disruption unlike anything since "at least the Civil War."

Liberia billboard about Ebola

HEALTHCARE | TRUSTED INFORMATION

How door-to-door canvassing slowed an epidemic
 

Study finds that in Liberia, trusted volunteers limited damage from Ebola by distributing information within their own communities.

American military troops

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES + ECONOMIC IMPACTS

How coronavirus will affect the US military
 

Yes, modern armies rely on equipment and training — and a healthy fighting force. Rachel Tecott and Erik Sand, MIT Political Science PhD candidates, comment on US military readiness in The Washington Post.  

portrait of Prof Charles Stewart III

ELECTION 2020

Can Election Day 2020 be secure — and safe for in-person voting?
 

In Marketwatch, Charles Stewart III, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, and head of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, writes about logistical challenges facing election officials.

Portrait of MIT Professor Lily Tsai

HEALTHCARE | TRUSTED INFORMATION

MIT GOV/LAB research shows why honest, trusted communication is key to stemming Covid-19
 

In Forbes: Study by Lily L. Tsai, Ford Professor of Political Science and head of the MIT GOV/LAB, and Benjamin S. Morse, a PhD candidate at MIT Political Science, finds that in Liberia, when many did not believe Ebola information from the corrupt government, trusted community volunteers could limit damage from Ebola by distributing information to neighbors.

CIVIC PERSPECTIVES

The attempt to rebrand the coronavirus
 

In The Atlantic, Author and Professor of Science Writing Tom Levenson writes that the non-scientific term "Wuhan virus" was intended to label Covid-19 as a Chinese scourge — ignoring, and stirring up, an ugly history.

Understanding law in everyday life
 

Susan Silbey, a pioneer in studying popular attitudes toward the legal system, discussed her research while giving MIT’s annual Killian Lecture.

Blood and politics in India
 

New book explores the use of blood in political rhetoric, imagery, and activism, and even the politics of blood drives.

portrait of Parrish Bergquist '19

CLIMATE 2020 | HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES FROM MIT

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."

portrait of Thiago Medaglia

CLIMATE 2020 | HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVES FROM MIT

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."

Christine Soh '20, computer science and linguistics

MEET THE MIT BILINGUALS

Profile: 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.

HONORS AND AWARDS

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

ETHICS OF TECHNOLOGY

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."

SHASS announces 8 Research Fund recipients for 2019

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 eight recipients for 2019.

Portrait of MIT Professor Kate Brown

Kate Brown's book is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
 

Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future “is a magisterial blend of historical research, investigative journalism and poetic reportage.” — The Economist

Portrait of MIT Professor Kenda Mutongi

MEET MIT'S HUMANISTIC FACULTY

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."