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Said and Done for September 2013

Digest of the MIT humanities, arts and social sciences
Fishermen weave nets on a seashore in Ghana. This was the winning entry in the 2013 J-PAL and Innovations for Poverty Action staff photo contest.
Fishermen weave nets on a seashore in Ghana. This was the winning entry in the 2013 J-PAL and Innovations for Poverty Action staff photo contest.
A member of the MIT Symphony Orchestra
A member of the MIT Symphony Orchestra
Photo: Jon Sachs/MIT SHASS Communications
Caspar Hare, associate professor of philosophy, leads 24.00x, the first introductory philosophy MOOC at an American university.
Caspar Hare, associate professor of philosophy, leads 24.00x, the first introductory philosophy MOOC at an American university.

Said and Done is the monthly, photo-rich publication from MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, integrating feature articles with news, research and events to give a distilled overview of the school's endeavors. For the complete edition, visit Said and Done. A few of this month's highlights include:

THE LISTENING ROOM | MIT Chamber Music Society
Octet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, and Strings 'a huit'
Jean Francaix (1811-1997)

COMMUNITY | Welcoming new faculty
The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences is very pleased to present the newest members of our faculty. They come to us with diverse backgrounds and vast knowledge in their areas of research: history of South Asia and South Asian diasporas; comparative politics; French history and visual culture; history of law focusing on slavery, abolition, and the Atlantic revolutionary period; international law; and classical Greek and contemporary rhetorical theory, and comparative media.
Meet our new faculty


Research Portfolio
Research is the engine for the School's capacity to help meet the world's great challenges. To name just a few areas of impact, MIT SHASS research helps alleviate poverty, safeguard elections, steer economies, understand the past and present, inform health policy, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Research Portfolio

DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS | What makes anti-poverty programs go viral? | Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee
New research from MIT development economists demonstrates how social networks can effectively promote poverty alleviation programs in poor countries. The economists developed a new measure of social influence that they call "diffusion centrality." Examining the spread of microfinance programs in rural India, the researchers found that participation in the programs increases by about 11 percentage points when well-connected local residents are the first to gain access to them.

ECONOMICS | Rethinking investment risk | Alp Simsek
Does financial innovation inherently lead to greater risk in markets? An MIT economist takes a new look at the problem and says it does. A paper published by Simsek makes the case that even in theory, financial innovation does not lower portfolio risk. Instead, it raises portfolio risks by creating situations in which parties sit on opposing sides of deep disagreements about the value of certain investments.

The research of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences appears principally in the form of books and publications, and music and theater productions. These gems of the School provide new knowledge and analysis, innovation and insight, guidance for policy, and nourishment for lives.
Take a look


PHILOSOPHY | First introductory philosophy MOOC at an American university | Caspar Hare
MIT Philosopher Caspar Hare presents the first introductory philosophy "massive open online course" offered by an American university. In "24.00x, Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness," Hare will lead students through the fundamental questions that underlay our understanding of existence, while grounding them in the basic practices of analytical philosophy.
Story | Video: Introduction to the Course

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY | Doctoral candidate Alma Steingart to join the Harvard Society of Fellows
Steingart's work demonstrates how ideas about what counted as legitimate mathematical knowledge were deeply embedded in political, economic, and institutional contexts shaped by science during the Cold War. We think of math as timeless, but just over the course of the twentieth century, what counts as math to mathematicians has changed, sometimes quite significantly.
Story | Steingart webpage

LINGUISTICS | M@90 | Workshop to celebrate Morris Halle's 90th birthday
The Department of Linguistics and Philosophy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will hold a 2-day workshop on Sept. 20 and 21, on the topic of "Metrical Structure: Stress, Meter and Textsetting," to celebrate the birthday of Professor of Linguistics emeritus Morris Halle.

PHILOSOPHY | Where are the professional women philosophers? | Sally Haslanger
"Although most philosophers these days are not old men with beards, most professional philosophers are men; in fact, white men. It is a surprise to almost everyone that the percentage of women earning philosophy doctorates is less than in most of the physical sciences. As recently as 2010, philosophy had a lower percentage of women doctorates than math, chemistry and economics. Note, however, that of these fields, philosophy has made the most progress on this count in the past five years."
Commentary at The New York Times

MUSIC | Music at MIT Oral History Project launched
Delve into great stories from MIT's acclaimed musical life and history, via online video interviews and recordings of significant composers, musicians, teachers, students, and scientists. "I'll characterize MIT and music," says John Corley, founder of the MIT Concert Band, "there's no substitute for brains... We're able to do things at MIT that I couldn't do at a conservatory."
Visit the site

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY | Why do we love "selfies"?
"It has to me the sense of 'I share, therefore I am,'" says MIT Professor Sherry Turkle.
Story at NBC News

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