News and commentary to champion excellence, belonging, and community at MIT
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Winter 2023 Edition


Keynote speaker Angela Davis, feminist and writer, addressed the gathering at MIT's annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Photo for MIT News by Jake Belcher.

MIT’s 49th annual Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began Monday, Feb. 6 with the MLK Art Exhibit in lobby 10 and ended with the MLK vendors market which was a new addition to the week-long series of events.

The highlight of the week was the luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 8 hosted by MIT President Dr. Sally Kornbluth and featuring keynote Speaker: Dr. Angela Y. Davis, Feminist, Scholar and Writer.

This year’s MLK Committee was co-led by Daria Johnson, Undergraduate Academic Administrator in the Literature Department. Faculty member Michel DeGraff supported the crafting of this year’s events as a MLK committee member.

The Institute began its annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1974, designating it as an Institute holiday in 1976, a decade before its first official observance as a federal holiday.

To learn more about the history of the annual celebration go here.

To view this year’s luncheon go here

MIT news coverage


Comparative Media Studies/Writing and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division of the Dean’s Office hosted a three-day, in-person international conference in October 2022 which engaged citizens, students, high school youth, and academics from MIT and around the globe. The conference was the first of its kind at MIT. With more than 250 participants, it provided a forum for attendees to discuss the global issues of technology, race, and social justice. With over 30 topics, panelists were given the opportunity to showcase findings on videography as a creative tool in the quest for social justice.

View the highlight reel of the conference here:

View plenary recordings here:


In a new course that ran this Independent Activities Period (IAP), MIT students studied Ukrainian language and culture and heard from Ukrainian scholars, artists, and activists about the country and the ongoing struggle against the devastating Russian invasion. 

Read the full story.

Nearly 70 students came together in October to take part in the “Heritage Meets Heritage” event, organized by MIT Global Languages and co-sponsored by the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) and Hermanas Unidas. 

Read the full story.


Work is underway for the SHASS Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement and Composition. Departments, Labs, and Centers will develop their own Strategic Action Plans. Resources for developing your plan can be found here.

In addition, please reach out to schedule a time to meet if you’d like support developing your plan.


A new interactive Canvas site is designed to help you create your own DEI learning journey. We've compiled a repository of diversity, equity, and inclusion resources designed to amplify the role of engagement, empathy, social analysis, civil discourse, mentoring, advising, and inclusion as institutional values. This is not an exhaustive list and we welcome suggestions and contributions from members of the SHASS community. Please send any feedback about the site to

Registration is required to have access to the Canvas site. Please register here.


Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led groups formed around common interests, common bonds, or similar backgrounds.
ERG members create a positive work environment at MIT by actively contributing to the Institute’s mission, values and efforts specific to inclusion, such as recruitment and retention.

Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion

The Council provides a forum for identifying sharing, and implementing effective diversity management programs and practices; encourages new programs and practices; and recognizes successful efforts. It also identifies and suggests ways to address problems and concerns related to equal employment opportunity and works to create synergy among faculty, staff, and student diversity management efforts. 

Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response Office (IDHR)

IDHR is a resource for the entire MIT community for concerns related to discrimination and discriminatory harassment, including for sexual misconduct under Title IX federal regulations.


MIT SHASS and the Institute Community and Equity Office are presenting Four Talks on Indigenous Studies, a series of talks on interdisciplinary Indigenous scholarship. Please join us for the remaining two talks, and enjoy refreshments and conversation with the scholars afterward.

Four Talks on Indigenous Studies: Kyle Mays 

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 5:00-6:00 pm, the Nexus 14S-130

Urban Indigeneity and Dispossession: Remapping and Reclaiming Space

Presented by Kyle Mays, Associate Professor, Dept. of African American Studies, Dept. of American Indian Studies, & the Dept. of History at the University of California, Los Angeles

Four Talks on Indigenous Studies: Eli Nelson,

Monday, March 6, 5:00-6:00 pm, the Nexus 14S-130

Repossessing the Wilderness: New Deal Science at the Qualla Boundary in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation 

Presented by Eli Nelson, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Williams College


MLK Scholar Presentation: "Mapping Creole Dreams" with Eunice Ferreira

Thursday, March 2 Noon-1:00 pm in Bush Room 10-105 (hybrid)

Eunice S. Ferreira maps a personal and academic journey across the Atlantic to look at theater in Cape Verde, West Africa and then back to its diasporic communities. She focuses on how Crioulo performance brings transnational notions of creole identities, mixed race, and Blackness into conversation. In mapping these relationships, she celebrates the ability of theater – from Cape Verde to Cambridge – to foster dialogue, archive cultural memory, nurture diasporic connections, inspire interdisciplinary collaboration, call for social justice, and build communities. 

Termagant Elves: Lydia Maria Child, Abolition and the “Woman Question”

Thursday, March 16 at 4:30 PM in E51-095

By 1837, Lydia Maria Child and other female abolitionists--Black and white--had been organizing against slavery for years. But as the movement grew, conservative clergy became uncomfortable with women's leadership and published a "Pastoral Letter" urging them to cease their efforts. The women's refusal caused the abolitionist movement to splinter and left the "Woman Question" unanswered, setting the stage, three decades later, for tensions around the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment.

Event co-sponsored by History, Philosophy, & Women's and Gender Studies

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Executive Editor: Tracie Jones, Assistant Dean
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MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Feb. 24, 2023