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Said and Done

Humanities, arts, and social sciences digest for September 2010
Stefan Helmreich
Stefan Helmreich
Parag Pathak
Parag Pathak
Photo: Jon Sachs

Said and Done is the monthly digest from MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. For a photo-rich version of current research, news, profiles and kudos, visit the complete September edition of Said and Done. A few highlights include:

Solving energy issues requires humanities and social sciences research
MIT faculty and researchers are aware that meeting 21st century energy needs requires both technological innovation and significant input from economic, political, social and cultural spheres. As Susan Silbey, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities and professor of sociology and anthropology, says, “Technical issues have human and social components ... You want people to invest in structures that conserve energy, like solar panels. Those have long-term payoffs. But the cultural norm is that most people want the payoff in three or four years. What will alter that?” Questions like these "opened the floodgates for understanding the non-engineering aspects of the energy problem,” says Tim Grejtek, a mechanical engineering major.
Research at Said and Done

Stefan Helmreich wins Gregory Bateson Book Prize for Alien Ocean
Professor of Anthropology Stefan Helmreich's most recent book, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas, is the recipient of the distinguished Bateson Book Prize, awarded by the Society for Cultural Anthropology. The Bateson Prize honors work that is theorectically rich, interdisciplinary and innovative.
Kudos at Said and Done

How America Invented the Humanities
Geoffrey Galt Harpham, president and director of the National Humanities Center, will speak to the MIT community from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29, in Killian Hall. Although the humanities have long been associated with the global heritage of human creative activity, Harpham makes the case that the concept of the humanities — as a collection of academic disciplines — is a recent invention, of the American academy, during the post-World War II culture of the United States. How does this context of emergence effect the character of humanistic study today?
Events at Said and Done

How can we improve education worldwide?
Among the many education programs that researchers in the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) have tested, by far the most cost-effective one is to treat children for parasitic worms through in-school programs, since children with worms are often too tired to attend school. Other initiatives that J-PAL has found help keep children in school include lowering costs associated with attending school by reducing fees or giving out free school uniforms, and giving incentives for attendance, such as school meals or merit scholarships for high-performing girls.
Research at Said and Done

Parag Pathak | Economics Career Development Assistant Professor
In 1998 as a teenager in upstate New York, Parag Pathak discovered and read A Beautiful Mind, Sylvia Nasar’s biography of mathematician and Nobel laureate John Forbes Nash Jr. It proved to be a catalyzing book for Parag Pathak — one of the influences that led to his life as an economic scholar with a specialty in game theory. "The idea that people's motives and their social interactions could be analyzed formally using mathematics was fascinating to me," he says.
Profiles at Said and Done

Mbiti, May and Fox are 2010-11 MLK Visiting Scholars
Since its creation in 1991, MIT’s Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars Program has honored the late civil-rights leader’s legacy by inviting scholars of diverse backgrounds to campus. While here, MLK visiting professors and scholars are deeply engaged in the life of the Institute through teaching and research. Two new MLK Visiting Scholars are joining the school community for the 2010-11 academic year. We are very pleased to welcome Isaac Mbiti in economics, and Reuben Buford May in anthropology. And we are delighted to announce that, following a year of inspiring teaching and acclaimed performances, Donal Fox, MLK Visiting Artist in Music and Theater Arts for 2009-10, is returning for a second year.
Profiles at Said and Done

New Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows join the community
With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences awards two postdoctoral fellowships each year to promising young scholars working at the intersection of humanities disciplines, or between humanities and other disciplines. We are delighted to welcome two new Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows for 2010-12 — Amaranth Borsuk and Chương-Đài Võ — and to welcome back the Mellon Fellows for 2009-2011, Joel Burges and Wayne Marshall.
Profiles at Said and Done

Sensing the Unseen | John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures
This innovative, yearlong seminar, which explores how social sciences and humanities scholars study the unseen, is organized around six species of the unseen: The Elusive, The Unaccounted, The Occult, The Invisible, The Evanescent and The Obscure. Four areas are keyed to sensory modes: listening, feeling, tasting and seeing. The other two areas relate to questions of how the unseen is measured and managed, at scales from the sub-visible to the geopolitical.
News at Said and Done

Said and Done | Full Edition | September 2010

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