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Examining the impact of human diversity

Four-part forum series kicks off this Thursday.
Graphic: Christine Daniloff

A series of forums taking place at MIT through March will examine how human diversity shapes our lives, our creativity and the political and social context of existence.

The four-part "Human Diversity and Social Order Forum Series" begins this Thursday, Feb. 10, with "Fruits of Diversity," which will examine how the convergence of diverse cultures can lead to the enrichment of language, architecture, visual arts and music. The event will take place from 7-9 p.m. on the sixth floor of the Media Lab Complex.

All of the series' events will include discussions with experts and faculty members from MIT and beyond. Thursday's panel will be chaired by Adèle Naudé Santos, dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, and includes Elliot Bostwick Davis, the John Moors Cabot Chair of the Art of the Americas Department at the Museum of Fine Arts; Donal Fox, artist, Music and Theater Arts Section and MLK Visiting Scholar at MIT; and Walter Hood, professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley.

The series’ organizers are Wesley Harris, associate provost for faculty equity and the Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and Leon Trilling, professor emeritus in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The other forums include:

"Diversity on the World Stage," Feb. 17, 7–9 p.m. in the Media Lab Complex, sixth floor. This forum will “explore the competition among a handful of sovereign powers, the exploitation of peoples and global resources, the relevance of economic power, and the efficacy of international institutions created to mitigate conflicts.”

  • Chair: Bishwapriya Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning, MIT
  • Nazli Choucri, professor of political science, associate director of the MIT Technology and Development Program and head of the Middle East Program at MIT
  • Geoffrey A. P. Groesbeck, Legatum Fellowship Programmes, Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT
  • Joanne Mariner, director, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program, Human Rights Watch

"Minorities in the United States,"
Feb. 24, 7-9 p.m. in the Media Lab Complex, sixth floor. This forum will “examine social invention that is citizenship in America. While the law guarantees equality and protection of rights and opportunities, the underrepresented minority population of our imperfect melting pot continues to struggle for acceptance.”

  • Chair: Willard R. Johnson, professor of political science, emeritus, MIT
  • Melissa Nobles, professor of political science, MIT
  • Christine Ortiz, dean for graduate education and professor of materials science and engineering
  • Emma J. Teng, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, MIT

"Education in the United States,"
March 17, 7–9 p.m. in Kirsch Auditorium. This forum asks, “What is the fate of Americans left behind after creation of the minority professional middle class? The Civil Rights Movement encouraged major American universities, including MIT and Harvard, to recruit underrepresented minority students under terms that made their academic success probable. American educational institutions still pursue diversity in their faculty, staff and students … but what of the poor (minority and others) who have not entered the education pipeline?”

  • Chair: Evelyn Higginbotham, professor of history and African American studies, Harvard University
  • Sylvester Gates, department of physics, MLK Visiting Professor, MIT
  • Paula T. Hammond, Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering, MIT
  • Wesley L. Harris, Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, associate provost for faculty equity

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