Making a Better World | Strengthening the MIT Core


The 21 departments, programs, and major centers of this School — and the faculty, staff, and students at work in them — help comprise the core of the MIT experience. 

An intellectual/physical infrastructure that spans all five schools at the Institute, the MIT Core is a superbly-trained and dedicated community of people, the campus spaces they inhabit, and the academic programs they shape and sustain.

This combination of people, place, and purpose is essential — the generative source that leads to the research/education excellence that in turn fuels MIT's capacity for bringing transformative, positive change into the world.

On this page, you will find stories about the people, programs, and plans that sustain the core of the MIT experience within the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.


Selected Stories

MIT Linguistics comparing primate vocalizations

Study shows Old World monkeys combine items in speech — but only two and never more, unlike humans.

Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT announces 2019-20 fellowship class

Ten top journalists from seven countries will spend an academic year studying at MIT.

Hala Aldosari joins the MIT Center for International Studies as Wilhelm Fellow

Saudi scholar and activist will conduct research on political and civil reforms in Saudi Arabia.

From science class to the stock exchange

“I’m all about finding connections,” says senior Stephon Henry-Rerrie about his path from engineering to the financial sector.

Susan S. Silbey, MIT Professor of Anthropology and Sociology


Two Commentaries | Susan S. Silbey, Chair of the MIT Faculty

Letters from the MIT Faculty Chair on teaching ethics, and on forming the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing.

MIT ranked No.2 university worldwide for Arts and Humanities - 2019

MIT has been rated No.2 worldwide in the "Arts and Humanities" subject category in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The ranking is based on an evaluation of the disciplines located in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences — and in the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. 

Seth Mnookin brings bestselling author's touch to teaching science journalism

Science "pushes me to constantly go out of my comfort zone," says director of MIT's science writing program

Sasha Costanza-Chock wins Journal of Design & Science essay competition

CMS/W professor examines “Design Justice, AI, and Escape from the Matrix of Domination”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells MIT grads "it's about people"

Commencement speaker says the greatest opportunities are for humans, not technology

As 52 HASS PhDs graduate, a call to make the world “more just, more fair”

SHASS alum Candis Callison SM ’02, PhD ’10 speaks at hooding ceremony

MIT Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 77 students from the Class of 2018

New members achieved exceptional excellence in both the humanities and science scholarship.


Amy Finkelstein elected to National Academy of Sciences

Economist Finkelstein and three others from MIT — Kardar, Wen, and Zhang — are honored for research achievements.


Parag Pathak wins John Bates Clark Medal

MIT economist lauded for work on education, market-design mechanisms 

MIT economists Parag Pathak and Nancy Rose elected to AAAS

Honor society announces 213 new members, eight from MIT.


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.


SHASS announces 10 Research Fund recipients for 2018

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 ten recipients for 2018.

Robin Wolfe Scheffler awarded 2018 Levitan Prize in the Humanities

Scheffler, the Leo Marx Career Development Professor in the History and Culture of Science and Technology, has been awarded the prestigious award that includes a $30,000 grant that will support his research into the factors that influenced the development of Boston’s booming biotech industry.

New era for MIT theater opens with Everybody, a morality play for our time

Everybody is a brand-new 2017 play based on the venerable 15th century English morality play, Everyman. As performed last week at MIT, Everybody at once updates a masterwork from the distant past, and represents the future — the great range of new arts opportunities that the new Building W97 is making possible at MIT.

Entrance to W97 MIT Theater Building

The Next Act for MIT Theater

A warehouse at 345 Vassar Street has been converted into an ingenious 25,000-square-foot performing arts building for MIT and its flourishing Theater Arts program. The flexible space can accommodate diverse forms of stagecraft, productions, and new theater technologies.  


My Sister's Keeper builds community for black women at MIT

"Being a black woman at MIT is a very particular experience. To compare that with others going through that is very powerful and uplifting," said Itoro Atakpa, a senior in mechanical engineering. My Sister's Keeper supports black women students with social, professional, and mentoring relationships.


Levenson's Hunt for Vulcan is a finalist for Royal Society Science Book Prize

The most recent book by science writing professor Thomas Levenson, The Hunt for Vulcan, has been short-listed for the 2016 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, called "the Nobel Prize of science writing" by 2016 judge Bill Bryson.


Political scientist Evan Lieberman studies ethnic identity and African politics

“A big strand in my work has been to think about the important ways in which social identity, especially racial and ethnic identities, become really important in thinking about policies and justice in distributive issues,” MIT political scientist Evan Lieberman says.


Kurt Fendt of CMS/W receives MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Awards

Co-sponsored by the Office of Digital Learning (ODL), the Dean of Undergraduate Education (DUE) and the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE), the student-nominated awards recognize faculty and instructors who have effectively leveraged digital technology to improve teaching and learning at MIT.


9 SHASS faculty members awarded named professorships

MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to announce that nine members of its faculty have been awarded named professorships. These honored positions afford the faculty member additional support to pursue their research and develop their careers.


From Babylon to Baudelaire and back

“I fought it for the longest time,” says MIT Poltiical Science PhD candidate Marsin Alshamary. “But it’s always been in the background: My entire life story’s about politics.”


3 Questions: Jeffrey Ravel on bringing data to cultural history

Centuries from now, will anyone remember the hit Broadway show “Hamilton?” Will they know how popular it was? As it happens, historians do know a great deal about Enlightenment-era French theater, and they continue to learn more — thanks in part to the Comédie Française Registers Project (CFRP), an ongoing effort led by Jeffrey Ravel, head of the MIT History faculty.


MIT named No.1 university worldwide for Economics and Linguistics

MIT has been named the top university in the world for both Economics and Linguistics in the latest subject rankings from QS World University Rankings. This is the second consecutive year the MIT-SHASS Economics has topped the QS rankings, and the third consecutive year for MIT-SHASS Linguistics.


MIT senior takes on double major in brain and cognitive sciences plus theater arts

Abra Shen pursues medicine and theater, and someday hopes to combine the two.


MIT named among three top universities in the world for humanities, arts

The Times Higher Education 2015 World University Rankings has named MIT one of the top three universities worldwide for arts and humanities education. The three top ranked universities — Stanford University, Harvard University, and MIT — are closely aligned in the evaluation metrics.


MIT Political Science celebrates 50th years of rigor, relevance, and impact

Founded in the midst of the Vietnam War with the vision to use political science to make a difference in the lives of people, MIT’s Department of Political Science remains true to that vision today, according to alumni, faculty, and other speakers featured at the department’s 50th anniversary symposium on November 6, 2015.


MIT named No. 1 university worldwide for social sciences

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings has named MIT the No. 1 university worldwide for social sciences for 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, and most recently 2021. The MIT SHASS subjects covered in the ranking include political science, comparative media studies, and anthropology, among others.


Designing virtual identities for empowerment and social change

Associate Professor D. Fox Harrell awarded $1.35M in grant funding to advance research on at the intersection of social science and digital technology.


Deborah Fitzgerald receives lifetime achievement award from Agricultural History Society

Fitzgerald, Professor of the History of Technology, and former Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT-SHASS, has been honored for her research, mentorship, and leadership. In its award citation, the society notes that Fitzgerald's research has articulated "important themes in twentieth century America," and that she has been a central force in furthering the society, cultivating next-generation scholars."


Iatridou and von Fintel named Fellows of the Linguistics Society of America

MIT Professors Kai von Fintel and Sabine Iatridou have been named fellows of the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) — the highest honor in the field — in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the discipline.


TOUR de SHASS 2015 on September 10

Event offers students the chance to meet professors and learn about MIT’s many options in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.


New Faculty, Fall 2015

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of the MIT-SHASS faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research: ecology and globalization; trade reforms in India; post–Cold War Cuba; a humanistic account of the global diabetes crisis; and the political history of Mexico’s rural training schools for teachers. Please join us in welcoming these excellent scholars into the School community.


MIT chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 80 graduating seniors 

The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, held its MIT induction ceremony on Thursday, June 4, admitting 80 graduating seniors into the MIT chapter, Xi of Massachusetts.


Marcus Thompson appointed Institute Professor

“Over his long career, Marcus has worked to give students access to a world-class music program that has changed MIT,” said Steven Hall, chair of the MIT faculty. “Many colleagues told us about his commitment to and generosity with students... Marcus is one of the great men and women of our faculty who inspire us every day.”


Andrea Louise Campbell named head of Political Science

Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has announced that Andrea Louise Campbell will become the new head of the Department of Political Science, effective July 1.  


Faculty Promotions - Spring 2015

The MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is pleased to announce 14 faculty promotions, which are effective July 1, 2015.


Melissa Nobles named SHASS dean

Nobles has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, effective July 1. Nobles, the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and former head of MIT’s Department of Political Science since 2013, is an accomplished scholar who has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1995.

The MIT Campaign for a Better World

Announcing the new comprehensive campaign, MIT President L. Rafael Reif said, "Humanity faces urgent challenges — challenges whose solutions depend on marrying advanced technical and scientific capabilities with a deep understanding of the world's political, cultural, and economic complexities."

Discover the role of MIT's Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences fields in solving the economic, cultural, and political dimensions of global issues, and in problem-solving in collaboration with our STEM colleagues. 


SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship launches with three PhD students

MIT SHASS has welcomed three outstanding PhD students from other universities to the MIT campus this year through the new SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship. Meet the three inaugural fellows: Shermaine Jones, Rosa Martinez, and Theresa Rojas.


35 Burchard Scholars announced for 2015

The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. “The Burchard scholars are some of MIT’s liveliest undergraduates,” says Margery Resnick, professor of literature and director of the Burchard Scholars Program. “Selection is extremely competitive, and the students chosen are unafraid to wrestle with new ideas.”


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum to lead Knight Science Journalism at MIT

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum will join MIT in 2015 as the director of Knight Science Journalism at MIT, a fellowship program that enables world-class journalists to spend a year at MIT studying everything from science, technology, and engineering to history of science, literature, policy, and political science.


Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates dazzles during two years as Visiting Scholar


“What I tell my students is that you here at MIT have access to great knowledge—more knowledge than 99.9 percent of people who have ever been on planet Earth, and I think you have some sort of moral duty to learn how to communicate that. Knowledge is power; power shouldn’t be hoarded.”


Williams awarded Leonardo da Vinci Medal for lifetime achievement

Rosalind H. Williams, Professor in the School's Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) was honored for a lifetime of achievement when the Society for the History of Technology presented her with its highest award, the Leonardo da Vinci Medal. The medal is given annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the history of technology through research, teaching, publications, and other activities. 


Profile of Emma Teng | MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Emma Teng, T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations and an associate professor of China studies, relishes the unique atmosphere within MIT that fosters multidisciplinary collaboration. And through her research and teachings about Asian and Asian-American identities and histories, Teng helps her students challenge their own assumptions, an exercise that she hopes extends beyond the classroom.


Burchard Scholars for 2013 announced 

MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has named 32 undergraduate students as Burchard Scholars for 2013. The award recognizes sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and academic excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering.


MIT Philosophy has extraordinary success placing PhD grads in top tenure-track positions

Consistently ranked among the top ten philosophy departments in the country, MIT’s small Philosophy section—just 12 full time professors—has extraordinary success in placing PhD graduates in tenure-track positions at top philosophy programs nationwide. The Leiter Reports placed MIT second in grad student placement. (New York University, a program nearly twice as large, was first). Because obtaining a faculty position in philosophy is notoriously difficult—often 700 applicants for every appointment—many are wondering: what is the secret of MIT’s outsized success?


School Within a School: MIT's Concourse learning community 

The single best thing about college for MIT Professor of History Anne McCants was "exploring ideas ravenously."  It was like being in a candy store for four years,” she says. Now, as newly appointed director of Concourse, a learning community for MIT freshmen, McCants says her goal is to give today’s students the same heady experience of intellectual adventure and discovery within the context of a supportive group. 

Shigeru Miyagawa


Shigeru Miyagawa receives President's Award from the OCW Consortium

MIT linguistics professor Shigeru Miyagawa has been selected to receive the President's Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence (ACE) for his contributions to the global OpenCourseWare and Open Education movements. Miyagawa, a key member of the faculty team that nurtured the development of MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), has contributed a significant amount of his own course materials to the site, and has traveled extensively to spread the practice of openly sharing educational materials globally. 


Broadhead, Kaiser, Rose named 2012 MacVicar Faculty Fellows 

Four professors have been named 2012 MacVicar Faculty Fellows for their outstanding undergraduate teaching, mentoring and educational innovation. Three are from SHASS: William Broadhead, the Class of 1954 Career Development Associate Professor of History; David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science; and Nancy Lin Rose, the Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics. The fourth professor honored is Leslie Pack Kaelbling, the Panasonic Professor of Computer Science and Engineering.  


Gallery | The MIT SHASS MacVicar Faculty Fellows

Photographs, research areas, and commentary from SHASS faculty who are among the Institute's finest educators

building 10


Meet the MacVicars of MIT SHASS

The SHASS MacVicar Faculty Fellows discuss the significance, the goals—and the sheer fun—of teaching MIT students.  

Robert A. Muh

Gallery of Recipients | Robert A. Muh Alumni Award

Profiles of the first six recipients of the biennial award, which was founded in 2000 by Robert and Berit Muh, to honor MIT alums who make significant career contributions in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.  

Great Ideas exhibit features MIT research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences    

For MIT's 150th anniversary, Dean Deborah Fitzgerald and the School leadership initiated a new permanent exhibit about the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Located on the first floor of Building 14, near Killian Hall, the exhibit presents the 20+ fields of study that make up the School, as well as an updating gallery of research, news, and profiles. 


Economics Symposium launches MIT's 150th celebration

This symposium, organized by the SHASS 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. 

Beijing at night


MIT strengthens connections with China | Quanta Chair in Chinese Culture established

The Institute has embarked on a major, long-term effort to promote intellectual and technological exchange...A major part of the Institute’s effort will also be the expansion of the study of China at MIT. A new chair in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, The Quanta Professorship in Chinese Culture, has recently been established thanks to a $5 million donation.  

Nobel Prize in Economics


Peter Diamond receives Nobel in Sweden

Institute Professor Peter Diamond PhD ’63 will collect the Nobel Prize in economics on Friday, Dec. 10, during a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Sweden. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen of Northwestern University and Christopher A. Pissarides of the London School of Economics won the prize for their analysis of “markets with search frictions,” which roughly equates to any setting in which buyers and sellers don’t easily find one another.

David Kaiser


David Kaiser elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society

David Kaiser has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, following nomination by the APS's Forum on the History of Physics. The citation reads: "For his outstanding publications that combine technical mastery of twentieth-century physics with a deep knowledge of recent developments in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science."

detail, tree of knowledge


How America Invented the Humanities

Geoffrey Galt Harpham, President and Director of the National Humanities Center reviews that history of hte humanities as a collection of academic disciplines invented by the American academy during the post WWII culture of the United States.


Why I am a history major at MIT

Excerpt from MIT Admissions Student Blog | Guest Blog by Dora '11, double major in course 8 and Ancient and Medieval Studies. She writes: "There are lots of people here who love the humanities, and who approach subjects in humanities with the same excitement and fervor that they approach their technical fields.... humanities at MIT carries a distinctly MIT feel: challenging, stimulating, and entirely fulfilling. 


School's Economics Department ranked first in nation

MIT is ranked as top graduate school for Economics in the US News and World Report on the best graduate schools in the nation. 

Esther Duflo


Esther Duflo receives MacArthur "genius" grant

Duflo, whose research has helped change the way governments and aid organizations address global poverty, has received a 2009 MacArthur Fellowship Grant. Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, and director of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). More


Berger receives French Legion of Honor medal

MIT political science professor Suzanne Berger was presented with a French Legion of Honor medal Monday in recognition of both her research and her efforts to strengthen ties between MIT and French researchers.