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MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences celebrates 50th

Leading scholars to explore society, culture, and economics in special colloquia
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) will celebrate its 50th anniversary -- and a new name -- with a special weekend-long celebration on Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7. Over the two-day celebration, students, alumni, and distinguished faculty and scholars from MIT and other institutions will convene to celebrate the School's place in MIT's culture and the milestones achieved during the past half-century.

Home to more than 150 faculty, including three Nobel laureates in economics, seven MacArthur Prize winners and two Pulitzer Prize recipients, SHASS plays an integral role in the college career of every MIT student. Because MIT's 16-course general education requirement is divided equally -- eight courses in the humanities, arts and social sciences and eight courses in mathematics and the physical and life sciences -- all MIT undergraduates must spend at least 25 percent of their college career fulfilling humanities, arts and social sciences requirements.

"Our philosophy at SHASS is that the worlds of science, culture and society are inextricably combined and therefore, no single skill set, humanistic or technical, is sufficient to address our increasingly complex world effectively," said Philip Khoury, Dean of SHASS. "For more than 50 years we at MIT have been providing tomorrow's leaders in science and technology with a grounding in humanities that provides them with a distinct edge in the business world." Khoury added, "We firmly believe that an understanding of literature, language and effective communication skills is as crucial as mathematics, chemistry and computer science to the development of tomorrow's leaders in science and technology."

SHASS includes the departments of Economics, Linguistics and Philosophy, and Political Science, as well as independent sections in anthropology, foreign languages and literatures, history, literature, music and theater arts, and writing and humanistic studies. The School also includes programs in Science, Technology and Society; Women's Studies; Comparative Media Studies, and the Center for International Studies.������


On July 1, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences was officially renamed the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science, in honor of the rigor and vitality of MIT's arts faculty and program offerings.

"From its beginning, MIT has been a place where creativity flourishes, no matter what the field, and the last several years have seen an even fuller blossoming of the arts within both the School and the wider MIT community," said President Charles M. Vest. "This change in the name of the School signals formally that the arts are essential to a complete educational environment and experience and are a vital part of the Institute."


In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and its renaming, MIT has planned a series of events during Friday and Saturday, October 6-7.

The key focus of the celebration is a colloquium in which distinguished faculty and scholars from MIT and other institutions will discuss some of the most intriguing questions on human nature and society. All sessions will be held in the Wong Auditorium at MIT and are free and open to the public.


Colloquium session 1: What do we know about human nature?


��������� Chair: Samuel Jay Keyser, Peter de Florez Professor of Linguistics Emeritus, MIT

��������� Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics, MIT

��������� Steven Pinker, Peter de Florez Professor of Psychology, MIT

��������� Hilary Putnam, Cogan Research Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

Colloquium session 2: How do artists tell their stories?


��������� Chair: Ellen T. Harris, Class of 1949 Professor of Music, MIT

��������� Anita Desai, Professor of Writing, MIT

��������� John Harbison, Institute Professor and Professor of Music, MIT

��������� Louise Gl��ck, Preston S. Parrish Century Lecturer, Williams College


Colloquium session 3: How do history and memory shape each other?


��������� Chair: Rosalind Williams, Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing, MIT

��������� John W. Dower, Elting E. Morison Professor of History, MIT

��������� Pauline Maier, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of American History, MIT

��������� Dame Gillian Beer, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature and President of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge

Colloquium session 4: Is capitalism good for democracy?


��������� Chair: Joshua Cohen, Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Professor of Philosophy, MIT

��������� Suzanne Berger, Raphael Dorman and Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, MIT

��������� Robert M. Solow, Institute Professor Emeritus and Professor of Economics Emeritus, MIT, Nobel Laureate

��������� Kenneth Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics Emeritus, and Professor of Operations Research Emeritus, Stanford University, Nobel Laureate

Seating at the Colloquium sessions will be on a space-available basis. Consult the web site for registration and other information, or contact Joe Coen, MIT Information Center, 617-253-4796,

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