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Compton Gallery hosts School of Humanities exhibit

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An exhibit in Compton Gallery celebrating some of the remarkable history and achievements of the MIT School of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences over the past five decades opened with due fanfare and delicate food on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Philip Khoury, Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences(SHASS), welcomed members of the faculty and the administration to the event, and introduced MIT President Charles M. Vest and Kenneth R. Manning, the Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and History of Sciences, who served as chief curator of the exhibition.

"Humanities, arts and the social sciences have a very serious role to play at MIT and in the quality of discourse on this campus. It's clear as society grows more and more dependent on science and technology that MIT will be called upon more and more to exercise leadership, and that, as part of this trend, these fields will be even more integral to our educational and scholarly pursuits. It is tremendously exciting to celebrate the past and to look forward to the future of the school," said Dr. Vest.

Professor Manning declared of his job as exhibition curator, "This assignment was really an honor." He also encouraged visitors to the Compton Gallery to "look for jewels and tidbits" in the SHASS display.

"The photographs, documents, and artifacts displayed here are frames in a larger fabric. This picture, worth at least a thousand words, could not have been predicted 50 years ago. It represents opportunities grasped, chances taken, decisions made and sustained efforts by the faculty and administration at critical moments in our history," Professor Manning stated.

The 50th anniversary exhibit is organized by discipline and as a multi-layered timeline. Developments in diverse fields as well as the names and faces of MIT faculty in the school can be appreciated for their aggregate and particular contributions over time.

A rare and noteworthy spot in the SHASS exhibit is a case displaying the coin-shaped gold Nobel medal awarded in 1970 to Paul A. Samuelson, professor of economics, emeritus, and the hand-painted Nobel citations awarded in 1987 to Robert M. Solow, Institute Professor Emeritus (economics), and in 1985 to Franco Modigliani, Institute Professor Emeritus (management).

The SHASS exhibition is the kick-off event to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary season. The exhibit will run through January 26, 2001 and is free and open to the public.


To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the school will hold a colloquium on October 6 and 7 in Wong Auditorium, with the general theme, "Asking the Right Questions."

What Do We Know About Human Nature? On Friday, Oct. 6, Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (linguistics), and Steven Pinker, the Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology and director of the Center for Cognitive Neurosciences, will ask what we know about human nature. That panel will be chaired by Samuel Jay Keyser, the Peter de Florez Professor of Linguistics, emeritus.

How Do Artists Tell Their Stories? In an afternoon panel, Anita Desai, professor of writing, and John Harbison, Institute Professor (music), will explore how artists tell stories. It will be chaired by Ellen T. Harris, the Class of 1949 Professor of Music.

How Do History And Memory Shape Each Other? On Saturday, Oct. 7, the colloquium will open with a panel chaired by Rosalind Williams, the Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing. It will feature MIT panelists John W. Dower, the Elting E. Morison Professor of History, and Pauline Maier, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History.

Is Capitalism Good For Democracy? The fourth panel of the anniversary colloquium will be chaired by Professor of Philosophy Joshua Cohen, who is also the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science. MIT panelists will include Suzanne Berger, Ralph Dorman and Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, and Robert Solow, Institute Professor Emeritus and Professor of Economics Emeritus.

For more information on the colloquium, contact Joe Coen, MIT Information Center, x3-4796 or For updated 50th Anniversary information, visit the 50th Anniversary web site.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 27, 2000.

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