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D'Arbeloff, alumni fund innovative courses

More than $1.1 million has been awarded to 22 faculty groups developing new subjects, thanks to the d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education and the Alumni Funds from the Classes of 1951, 1955, 1972 and 1999. Both funds are administered by the Office of Faculty Support.

Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Support Diana Henderson said, "These awards reflect a broad and profound commitment to educational innovation among many of our faculty."

The d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education supports projects designed to enhance and potentially transform the academic experience of MIT's undergraduate students. The new d'Arbeloff award recipients include:

Building a Constructive Culture

Biological Engineering: Professor Drew Endy, Instructor Natalie Kuldell, Principal Research Engineer Randy Rettberg; Political Science: Professor Ken Oye--This project-based introduction to biological engineering design will motivate students to master discipline-specific knowledge in context and solve a personally compelling design challenge.

When Engineering Gets Big: Building Faster Highways Inside Cities and Computers

Materials Science and Engineering: Professor L.C. Kimerling, Rachael Kemper; Microphotonics Center: Sajan Saini; Civil and Environmental Engineering: Professors Herbert Einstein and Andrew Whittle--This subject introduces students to the complexities of Big Engineering: large-scale ventures that integrate multiple science-engineering disciplines, interacting over an extended production timeline.

Music and the Supernatural: Witches, Magi and Ghosts

Music and Theater Arts: Professor Ellen Harris and Lecturer Charles Shadle; Anthropology: Professor James Howe--The new subject focuses on the relationship between music and the supernatural as reflected in key musical works of the Western tradition from the 17th to the 20th centuries.


Through the generous support of the Classes of 1951, 1955, 1972 and 1999, the Alumni Class Funds provide resources to MIT faculty for innovative educational projects, particularly to enhance undergraduate education. This year's awards include:

Art Work-Out: Visual Arts in the Gym

Architecture: Professor Wendy Jacob, Lecturer Andrea Frank--This project will assist in the development of a new Visual Arts Program introductory studio subject that will use MIT's sports arenas (gyms, pools and playing fields) as sites for artistic production.

The New Third World Challenge

Architecture: Research Associate Reinhard Goethert--Goethert will re-center the course "The New Practitioner" to identify proactive strategies for approaching the problem of Third World urban growth, combining presentations of experts with a workshop in a Third World country.

Mapping Controversies

Program in Science, Technology, and Society: Professor Vincent Antonin -Lepinay--The goal of "Mapping Controversies" is to teach undergraduate students how to account for and map techno-scientific controversies.

Reviving World Literatures

Literature: Professors Mary Fuller, Alisa Braithwaite, Sarah Brouillette--The goal of the project is to enhance literary study for MIT students by emphasizing cross-cultural understanding.

The Fisher Files Podcast

Professor Peter Fisher, Physics--Fisher's project would produce 12 weekly programs devoted to time management, organization and life skills, oriented to those in an academic environment.


More information can be found at the Office of Faculty Support web site:

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 6, 2007 (download PDF).

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