21st Century Citizenship
Resources for understanding and engagement
 

 

MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences draws on the expertise of our faculty and colleagues across the Institute to provide resources for understanding the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of national and global challenges — and for serving as engaged citizens.

 

                                              Gallery of Resources, Publications, and Events

spheres of justice - chalk on blackboard

Looking at justice through the lens of political theory  

In Bernardo Zacka's 17.01 class, MIT students explore human values and competing theories of the just society
  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

ELECTION INSIGHTS 2018
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

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

US Map - made of people

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

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.

More

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

More

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

More

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

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

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

SOCIAL INNOVATION | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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

HEALTH OF THE PLANET | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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

RESEARCH | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | LEGACY OF SLAVERY

The Task of History

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

Professor Craig Steven Wilder and Dean Melissa Nobles

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | LEGACY OF SLAVERY

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

fake new emblem

MENS ET MANUS AMERICA | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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.
  More

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | RESEARCH

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

21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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

MENS ET MANUS AMERICA | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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

RESEARCH | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

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

MIT Philosopher Justin Khoo

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | IMPACT OF LANGUAGE

Applying philosophy for a better democracy

In a new philosophy class, MIT students explore how language affects censorship, dissent, lies, and propaganda. More

SOCIAL INNOVATION | CITIZENSHIP

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

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Bridging the gap between citizens and scientists

Alumni of the MIT SHASS Graduate Program in Science Writing inform the public about critical issues ranging from medical breakthroughs to climate change. More

21st C. CITIZENSHIP

Connecting through conversation

Whether in Cambridge or Shanghai, MIT senior Joshua Charles Woodard seeks to learn from others’ perspectives and challenge his own. More

RESEARCH | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

Why some Muslim clerics become jihadists

In his new book, political scientist Richard Nielsen proposes a “blocked ambition” hypothesis. More

Why we should welcome warnings

At MIT event, experts call for a new approach to worst-case scenarios. More

Bridging the science-policy divide

For MIT senior Talia Weiss, physics and theater have provided a springboard for new interests in political science. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Probing the behavior of an international bully

Political science doctoral student Ketian Zhang sheds light on China's use of coercion in foreign policy, hoping to span a deep divide. More

RESEARCH | 21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Nuclear and present danger

MIT security experts Vipin Narang, Jim Walsh, and Taylor Fravel discuss how to lower tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. More

BASIC RESEARCH | 21st CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Mens et Manus America examines data,
technology, and election integrity

Various concerns about the security of U.S. elections have arisen over the past twenty years, some more significant that others. While many studies have shown that voter fraud, for instance, is vanishingly rare in the U.S., what about the state of electoral administration, lost votes, and cyber attacks? On Oct. 16, two experts teamed up at MIT to share insights from their research on what is and isn't working in America's electoral system. More

21st C. CITIZENSHIP | BASIC RESEARCH

Making sense of nuclear threats

MIT political scientist Vipin Narang explains the strategies of new nuclear powers. “We’re not talking about Cold War nuclear strategy any more. We’re talking about small states with small arsenals and itchy trigger fingers. It really changes how we think about nuclear risks and nuclear dangers as a result.” More

SOCIAL INNOVATION

How J-PAL thinks globally and acts locally

Can an antipoverty program work in different settings? A new report presents a user’s guide to a tough issue. More

RESEARCH TO POLICY | CITIZENSHIP

J-PAL North America partners with local governments to tackle homelessness and reduce incarceration

Selected cities and counties will receive funding and technical support from J-PAL to test innovative strategies in the fight against poverty. More

RESEARCH TO POLICY | CITIZENSHIP

Investigating the trap of unemployment

MIT Economics PhD student Aicha Ben Dhia studies France’s labor market from the perspective of local job-seekers. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Mens et Manus America Initiative | Portal 

This non-partisan MIT initiative convenes research-informed lectures and discussions to explore the major, long-term social, political, and economic issues brought to light in the 2016 US presidential election. We are asking: What can MIT do to help address current challenges in the U.S., and bolster the health of our democracy? Join us as we frame the issues and generate ideas for making a positive impact. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

At MIT, Arlie Hochschild discusses U.S. political divisions and finding common ground

The event centered on Hochschild's most recent book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (The New Press, September 2016). More

SOCIAL INNOVATION

MIT launches Election Data and Science Lab

The lab is dedicated to improving elections, using research, evidence, and analysis. Founded by Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the Lab will address multiple audiences of academic researchers, election practitioners, and the general public. It will serve a unique and independent role as it applies scientific principles to empirical questions about the administration of American elections.  More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Breaking through gridlock: productive conversations in a polarized world 

A Mens et Manus America conversation with Jason Jay. "We have to have conversations if we are going to effect change," said Jay, who outlined findings from his new book. "We change larger conversations by changing one conversation at a time." More

photo of Jamelle Bouie, Slate editor

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Race and Racism in the 2016 Election

Slate chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie joins MIT’s Seth Mnookin to explore how race and ethnicity framed the election. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Mens et Manus America examines the politics of misinformation

Exploring current U.S. social, political, and economic challenges: Professor Adam J. Berinsky joined Professor Ezra Zuckerman Sivan to share political science and sociological research about the impact of rumors and falsehoods on America's political process. Agustín Rayo, associate dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences moderated. More

THE HUMAN FACTOR | THE COSTS OF WAR

Political theorist John Tirman on immigration, collaboration, and the hidden costs of war

"It is remarkable that we do not measure the costs of war in any meaningful way. The costs come in many shapes and sizes: mortality and disability, loss of livelihoods and homes, displacement, the destruction of clean water resources and sanitation facilities, the disruption of education for children, ecological devastation, and many others. All wars produce these results, yet no country, including the United States, has the will to understand and calculate these costs." More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Michael Lee: "The Conservative Canon Before and After Trump"

In this April 28 CMS/W podcast, Michael J. Lee charts the vital role of canonical post–World War II (1945–1964) books in generating, guiding, and sustaining conservatism as a political force in the United States. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Being Muslim in America and MIT

MIT alum and students explored how discriminatory rhetoric influences public opinion and its impact on the daily lives of Muslim-Americans. More

photo of Jack Straw

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Brexit, Europe, and Trump: John Whitaker "Jack" Straw, Former Foreign Secretary, U.K.

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on April 6, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Senator Sanders Addresses MIT: Presidential Election and the Political Process

In MIT speech, Senator Sanders contends future of U.S. politics "must be progressive." More

Samuel Rodarte, Jr.

SOCIAL INNOVATION: RESEARCH TO POLICY

Shaping Public Policy in the Nation's Capital

With dual MIT degrees in engineering and humanities fields, and a social science minor, Samuel Rodarte '13 could have found a top job in almost any enterprise from startup to multinational corporation. Instead, he chose to join generations of alumni who have put their MIT skills to work shaping public policy in Washington, D.C. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Racing to the Precipice: Global Climate, Political Climate

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on March 23, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Uniting through Voice and Song

On the evening of November 17, 2016 faculty, staff, and students came together to affirm the enduring values that unite the MIT community. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Mens et Manus America initiative launches with documentary film event

200 students and faculty attend kickoff event as SHASS and Sloan begin a non-partisan, research-based exploration of current U.S. social, political, economic challenges. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

The Fight Over Foreigners: Visas and Immigration in the Trump Era

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on February 28, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

From Stereopticon to Telephone: The Selling of the President in the Gilded Age

Charles Musser: “19th century media forms set in motion not only a new way of imagining how to market national campaigns and candidates; they also helped to usher in novel forms of mass spectatorship.” More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Racism, Violence, and Democracy

Video of a panel discussion on November 16, 2016,​ sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

The Power of Perceptions

Study shows how information sources affect voters More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Trump’s Victory: What does it mean for you? ​

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on Feb 28, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

ARTS INNOVATION

Dissolve Inequality: A Visual Arts Summit

A book launch & panel discussion: How can visual art transform our understanding of protest, value, and change? More

Screening of the film "13th"

America makes up 5% of the world's population, yet locks up 25% of the world's prisoners. Ava DuVernay's acclaimed film "13th" explores how we got here. Screening sponsored by MIT SHASS Program in Women and Gender Studies More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

A new fight with old battle lines

Book explores what France’s LGBTQ rights battle says about identity and belonging. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

The world as we think the world should be | Meet theater director Charlotte Brathwaite

In the two years since she joined the MIT’s faculty, Charlotte Brathwaite says she has seen much commonality between theater arts and the work of engineering and science. "The process of creating — imagining something that doesn't exist, whether that is a cure for something or a startup — in theater we do that too. We imagine the impossible and try to make that possible," says Brathwaite. More

HEALTH OF THE PLANET

At forum, MIT community tackles tough ethical questions of climate change

Why is it so hard for human beings to address climate change? What can motivate effective action? More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

No Walls: The making of a socio-political statement in music

Commentary by Mark Sumner Harvey More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

An Evening with John Hodgman

Humorist John Hodgman and MIT’s Seth Mnookin discussed the aftermath of the 2016 election and where to go from here. More

SOCIAL INNOVATION | 21st C. CITIZENSHIP

How healthy is the U.S. voting system?

Professor Charles Stewart III explains why the U.S. electoral system is strong and how MIT research is making the voting process even more seamless. This fall Stewart is leading a nationwide research project: on Election Day 2016, some 800 students from more than 25 universities, including MIT, will be collecting data at polling places across the country, as part of the "Polling Place of the Future" project to help further improve the nation's electoral process. More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Election Insights 2016 | John Tirman on Immigration

"Negative attitudes toward immigrants have many roots. The economy and 'job stealing' have often ranked high on the list of grievances, but several studies — including one just released by the National Academy of Sciences — demonstrate that immigrants of all kinds boost the U.S. economy overall and hurt few if any native-born Americans. So, what really mobilizes anti-immigrant attitudes?" More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP

Election Insights 2016: Elizabeth Wood on the Putinization of Politics

"The casualty of the 'Putinization' of American elections is the creation of a Reality TV style of campaigning based on machismo, a loss of authenticity, and a failure to acknowledge the importance of institutions, laws, and solid economic policies designed to increase the general welfare of the nation." More

21ST CENTURY CITIZENSHIP | RESEARCH

Election Insights 2016: David Autor on Jobs, Economic Security  

"The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), enacted in 1975 and enlarged by both Republican and Democratic administrations, is among the nation’s most significant tools for reducing poverty and encouraging people to enter the workforce. One of the most promising policies for assisting non-college workers is expanding the EITC to cover childless workers and non-custodial parents." More

SOCIAL INNOVATION | CITIZENSHIP

J-PAL and MIT Economics launch D2P2 Lecture Series

With their “D2P2: Data. Decisions. Public Policy.” lecture series, J-PAL and MIT Economics aim to increase awareness of their work on campus and in Greater Boston. More

SOCIAL INNOVATION | CITIZENSHIP

Christine Walley and Chris Boebel on the Exit Zero Project

The Exit Zero Project, founded by Christine Walley and Chris Boebel, is a transmedia effort to tell the story of the traumatic effect of deindustrialization on Southeast Chicago. The three components of the project — book, documentary film, and in-progress interactive website — use family stories from the once-thriving steel mill communities of Southeast Chicago to consider the enduring impact of the loss of heavy industry and its role in widening class inequalities in the United States. More