Innovation in Education


Resources for innovation

Developing new classes and renewing existing classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences are central to keeping the MIT SHASS curriculum relevant and exciting. The resources on this page include a guide for developing new classes and lists of potential funding sources. The first step in planning a new or renewed class is to talk with the leadership and curriculum committee in your academic unit. The SHASS Associate Dean and Academic Administrator also stand ready to assist.

This page includes information in three areas:    

New Course Approval Process

Class Development Funding Sources

Specialty Class Development Funding Sources




New Course Approval Process

CoC Instructions for Creating a New Subject

The review cycle for fall subjects runs from mid-October to early April. Spring subjects may be reviewed into the early fall. 

Subjects needing HASS and CI designations have earlier deadlines, as indicated below. 

SHR Instructions for Proposing a New Subject for the HASS Requirement

Proposals will be accepted in the fall semester for the next Academic Year.

SOCR Instructions for Proposing a New CI-H/W Subject

Proposals will be accepted in the fall semester for the next Academic Year.

SOCR Instructions for Proposing a New CI-M

Typically, proposals are reviewed in the year before the subject will be offered as a CI-M.

SHR Instructions for Proposing a New HEX Subject

MIT instructors interested in teaching in the HASS Exploration Program can contact the Subcommittee on the HASS Requirement, their Department Head, or SHASS Dean's Office for more details.

Key Dates

Mid-September: Subject proposals for the upcoming spring due in CIS

Early December: HASS and CI proposals for the next AY due

Mid-January: Subject proposals for the next AY due to coordinators for CGP/CoC Review Prep

Mid-March: Subject proposals for the next AY due in CIS

Mid-April:  CIS data for the next AY loaded to MITSIS

Early-to-Mid-May: Final review of subjects


Class Development Funding Sources

Alumni Class Funds (OFS)

Through the generous support of alumni from the Classes of 1951, 1955, 1972, and 1999, MIT faculty have resources available to initiate innovative educational projects, particularly for undergraduate education. This funding is intended as seed money for new, "high risk" initiatives that encourage creative curriculum and teaching changes, improve the quality of teaching, and enrich the learning experience, including the imaginative use of technology and applications.

Typical projects have included the development of new curricula and/or instructional aids, programs to enhance teaching skills and techniques, and the incorporation of latest teaching and learning methods in such important areas as the first year, General Institute Requirements, departmental programs, experiential learning, and faculty enhancement, support, and development.

Normally, grants range from $10,000 to $50,000. Larger grants will be considered for special projects. Cost sharing is encouraged.

d’Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education(OFS)

The Alex and Brit d’Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education solicits proposals from MIT faculty members for ambitious projects to enhance the educational experience of our undergraduates. Projects that involve faculty-student direct interaction, that cross disciplinary boundaries, or that aspire to provide dynamic, effective teaching, particularly through the introduction of online learning, are all appropriate.

Projects can be focused at any level of our undergraduate education. Special attention will be accorded to enhancements of subjects offered in the first year and as General Institute Requirements (GIRs). The d’Arbeloff Fund Review Committee is interested in proposals aimed at fostering faculty participation in the educational experiences of undergraduates, especially freshmen, beyond the classroom. The Committee also welcomes proposals for projects that will explore the ways in which online learning experiments can be applied to MIT subjects. Collaborative projects with the potential to affect large numbers of students over time, transcend specific departmental curricula, or span multiple subjects are particularly valuable.

Completed preliminary proposals are typically due in September. Applicants who pass the initial screening process will be invited to submit final proposals by mid-November.

Dean's Fund for Professional Development (SHASS)

All faculty, permanent lecturers and senior lecturers, and principal/senior research associates are eligible to apply. Visiting faculty and staff are ineligible. Priority will be given to individuals without alternative sources of support (e.g. discretionary funds).

Proposals requesting up to $2,000 are accepted three times per academic year.

Kelly Douglas Fund Research and Teaching Grants (SHASS/Literature)

The Kelly-Douglas Fund allocates a part of its annual budget to support teaching and research by members of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. These funds are distributed on a rolling basis each semester.

Since the Fund is a small one and seeks to assist as many deserving projects as possible, grants are typically modest: no individual may receive more than $400 in a given academic year, and a majority of grants awarded are for smaller amounts.


Specialty Class Development Funding Sources

de Florez Fund for Humor (SHASS)

Funded projects are to be “contributions to innocent humor at MIT, including activities that do not involve risk of damage to persons or property, or embarrassment to others.”  The Fund Committee thus welcomes and considers a wide range of proposals—from groups and individuals—to support such projects as: events, performances, films and other creative media works, lectures, workshops, curriculum development, class trips, and even (humorous) scholarly conferences.  

Proposals for small grants (under $750) are considered on a rolling basis, throughout the year. Proposals for larger amounts are accepted once a semester, in fall and spring of each academic year.

Energy Education Task Force (EETF) Curriculum Funding

The Energy Education Task Force (EETF) is working to develop a call for proposals for new or substantially revised energy-focused subjects from MIT faculty. Proposals are accepted by the Energy Education Task Force (EETF) and Energy Minor Oversight Committee (EMOC) at any time on a rolling basis and reviewed monthly by these two committees. Proposals may include costs for development and first year delivery, as well as modest support for delivery in years 2 and 3. Proposals leveraging other forms of support are particularly welcome.

Funding levels depend on the extent of development required and may range from $10,000 to $100,000.

MITx on edX (ODL)

The MITx team is charged with supporting MIT’s exploration of teaching approaches enabled by digital technologies, both on the MIT campus and through scalable online courses on the edX platform. 

The mission of MITx is to:

  • support the use of digital learning tools and techniques in the delivery of MIT residential programs
  • support the development of free, openly licensed, scalable, MIT-quality courses to academically talented and well prepared learners worldwide
  • and further the understanding of best practices in emerging digital and scalable learning environments.


Residential MITx (ODL)

The residential MITx system allows on-campus subjects at MIT to employ the campus-wide MITx system for providing MIT students with online problem sets, lecture videos, reading-questions, pre-lecture questions, problem-set assistance, tutorial videos, exam review content, and even online exams.

ODL offers several options for self-service course authoring, including a web-based system for authoring course content, as well as a "bare-metal" approach for sophisticated users comfortable with XML and social authoring tools like github.

Major residential MITx course development projects, with department support, can also receive supplementary support from ODL.

Service Learning Grants (PSC)

Service learning grants support faculty interested in teaching a service learning class. Grants can help to pay for expenses related to curricular revision, community outreach, project development, and project implementation. Service Learning Grants are typically under $2500.

Larger grants may be offered under special circumstances.


MIT offers several awards for excellence in education, and SHASS faculty are regularly among the recipients of these accolades. Some of the major awards are listed on the Education Innovations Awards page, along with recent SHASS recipients, and links to information about those for whom the awards are named.


Office of Educational Innovation and Technology

The Office of Educational Innovation and Technology works with faculty, staff and students to enable and promote the development and dissemination of innovative uses of technology in teaching and learning.