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MIT International Review eyes global solutions

MIT International Review Inaugural Edition cover
MIT International Review Inaugural Edition cover

A pair of globally minded MIT students have launched a new journal that aims to hash out solutions to major world problems with the kind of cross-disciplinary zeal that is becoming commonplace at the Institute.

The journal, MIT International Review (MITIR), published its first issue this spring and has already been officially recognized as part of the MIT global initiative promoted by President Susan Hockfield. Thomas Schelling, a winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics, was among the inaugural issue's contributing authors.

The journal's two founders, Ali Wyne (S.B. '08) and Raphael Farzan-Kashani (S.B. '06, S.B '07), say the publication will try to link MIT's scientific and technological thinkers with those in the humanities. The focus will be on discussing solutions - not just problems - facing the world.

The duo has been gratified with the response they've had from around the MIT community so far. The project took about a year to launch, with about $9,000 in funding, most of it from discretionary funds from various department budgets.

The first issue had a print run of 1,500 copies, and the journal has an online presence at Going forward, the editorial board is planning on an issue each semester.

The hardest part of the whole project, Wyne says, was working out the mission for the journal - trying to reconcile "all the different visions." But then the group - Wyne, Farzan-Kashani, and the other staff - realized that the one thing they shared was the MIT ideal of "mens et manus," or "mind and hand" - acquiring knowledge and applying to human problems.

That led naturally to the journal's mission of providing "solution-oriented discourse about challenges facing our global community."

Wyne stresses that simply harping on policy failures is "not appropriate" for MITIR articles. Most mainstream policy analysis, he finds, accentuates the negative - 13 pages of what's going wrong in Iraq, for instance, and only one page of prescription for what to do about the problem.

That's why the MITIR editors are so enthusiastic about one particular contribution in their inaugural issue, "Development During Crisis: Promoting Asset Building in Protracted Refugee Situations," by Topher McDougal, master's degree candidate in the department of urban studies and planning. His piece asks the question, "How can the period of exile for a refugee be transformed from treading water into an asset-building period yielding tangible benefits?"

"This embodies the whole vision," Wyne says, noting that the idea of refugees in camps being viable economic actors defies the stereotype.

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