Computing and Society Concentration

The Computing and Society Concentration introduces students to critical thinking about computation and its technologies, making clear the relevance of MIT's humanisitic fields to the science and engineering coursework at MIT, as well as to students' future careers.

Drawing together classes from nine MIT-SHASS units, this concentration helps MIT students understand that “computation” is not just a technical process but also a socio-cultural practice with profound human implications, and that the humanities and social sciences offer insights to improve the social, cultural, and political impact of future computing tools.

Students who complete the concentration will gain a greater understanding of how changes in computational power have refashioned fundamental questions about community, identity, democracy, and knowledge itself. Students majoring in computing fields will gain greater fluency to analyze the tools they work with, and also new ideas about applications. Students will learn to factor in new variables and pose new kinds of questions about what might constitute the successes and failures of innovation. 

Concentration requirement: four of any of the subjects listed below, selected in consultation with the Concentration Advisor. An MIT HASS Concentration may include only one subject that also counts toward the HASS Distribution Requirement. Note that cross-listed subjects are listed here under their “home” departments but students can register for them under any undergraduate subject number associated with the class.


Anthropology (Course 21A)

21A.311 The Social Life of Medical Devices, HASS-S

21A.500J Technology and Culture, HASS-S

21A.504J Cultures of Computing, HASS-S

21A.505 The Anthropology of Sound, HASS-S


Comparative Media Studies/Writing (CMS & Course 21W)

CMS.314J Phantasmal Media: Theory and Practice, HASS-A

CMS.360 Introduction to Civic Media, HASS-H

CMS.361 Networked Social Movements, HASS-S

CMS.595 Learning, Media, and Technology, HASS-S

CMS.614J Network Cultures, HASS-H

CMS.616J Games and Culture, HASS-S

CMS.701 Current Debates in Media, HASS-H


Global Studies and Languages (Course 21G)

21G.036 Advertising and Media: Comparative Perspectives, HASS-H

21G.067 Digital Media in Japan and Korea, HASS-H

21G.199 Chinese Youths and Web Culture, HASS-H


History (Course 21H)

21H.383 Technology and the Global Economy, HASS-S


Linguistics and Philosophy (Course 24)

24.09 Minds and Machines, HASS-H, CI-H

24.131 Ethics of Technology, HASS-H

24.222 Decisions, Games, and Rational Choice, HASS-H


Literature (Course 21L)

21L.017 The Art of the Probable, HASS-H, CI-H 

21L.355 Literature in the Digital Age [must be taken with another Literature Samplings class for HASS credit]


Political Science (Course 17)

17.265 Public Opinion and American Democracy, HASS-S

17.309J Science, Technology, and Public Policy, HASS-S, CI-H

17.445 International Relations Theory in the Cyber Age, HASS-S

17.447 Cybersecurity, HASS-S


Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

STS.002 Finance and Society, HASS-S, CI-H

STS.005J Data and Society, HASS-H

STS.044 Technology and Self: Things and Thinking, HASS-S

STS.047 Quantifying People: A History of Social Science, HASS-S

STS.083 Computers and Social Change, HASS-H

STS.085J Foundations of Information Policy, HASS-S


Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS)

WGS.111 Gender and Media Studies, HASS-H

WGS.115 Gender and Technology, HASS-H

WGS.151 Gender, Medicine, and Public Health, HASS-S

WGS.224 Race, Gender and Social Inequality: Reproductive Health Care in the United States, HASS-S


Additional information can be obtained from

the Concentration Advisor, Professor William Deringer, E51-188, x3-9651;
or from the STS Academic Office, E51-163, x3-9759; 
or from the SHASS Academic Administrator, Andrea Wirth, 4-240, x3-4441.