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$4.25 million donated to support humanities

The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences has received a $4.25 million gift from an alumnus donor and spouse who wish to remain anonymous.

The gift will establish a $3 million endowment for a Contemporary French Studies Fund and will support the Hyperstudio and Comparative Media Studies Program through $1.25 million in expendable gifts over the next five years.

In announcing the gift, Philip S. Khoury, the Kenan Sahin Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, said, "This generous gift will have an enormous impact on the humanities at MIT. It will support the continuing creative initiatives of our French faculty and provide critical core funding for our innovative Hyperstudio and Comparative Media Studies Program."

The new Contemporary French Studies Fund will make it possible for French program faculty to develop new courses and ambitious programming, host visiting professors and writers, organize conferences and foster student cultural exchanges. It will also support the continuing development of such existing projects as Cultura, a web-based tool designed to build crosscultural understanding between American and French students.

The gifts to support the Hyperstudio and Comparative Media Studies Program will help humanities faculty and students develop cross-disciplinary curriculum and research projects in which they use and study media technologies.

Led and administered by the foreign languages and literatures section, the Hyperstudio houses a wide range of interactive media content and projects developed for the classroom across disciplines that include foreign languages and literatures, literature, music, comparative media studies and history. This rich content is fueled by a technology that facilitates the collaborative sharing of media among faculty and students.

Comparative media studies is a multidisciplinary program at MIT examining media technologies and their cultural, social, aesthetic, political, ethical, legal and economic implications. The program offers a master's degree and undergraduate major (now the largest humanities major at MIT). Its faculty and students are engaged in a range of research projects, partnering with foundations and industry in areas that include media literacy, the development of education technologies and media convergence.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 12, 2006 (download PDF).

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