The third annual TOUR de SHASS, an expo at which students can learn more about MIT’s great range and depth in the humanities, arts, and social science fields, is set to take place September 10.
At the gathering, students are invited to “Take the Tour” — visiting 13 information stations staffed by faculty and undergraduate academic administrators (UAAs) from all of MIT’s SHASS fields: anthropology; economics; political science; global studies and languages; history; linguistics; literature; comparative media studies/writing; music; theater arts; philosophy; science, technology, and society; and women’s and gender studies.
With every department, section, and program represented — at one time, in one room — the event provides students a very convenient, efficient place to gather information and explore possibilities.
Some 400 MIT undergraduates attended last year’s event, and more are expected to take part in 2015. Every attendee will be issued a special SHASSport, which can be stamped at every station they visit. Students who collect eight or more stamps win a free takeaway lunch.
Exploring fields and courses
Speaking of last year’s TOUR, junior William Wong says, “There was a lot of information that helped me learn more about the humanities and related areas. The faculty and UAAs also made recommendations of classes I could take based on my interests.”
That’s the goal, organizers say: for students to discover MIT's great range and depth in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, and to begin the process of deciding which options will be the most meaningful for their academic and personal goals.
The TOUR also provides a unique occasion for students to chat informally with faculty, one-on-one, about the courses they teach, their fields of study, and their current research.
Aiming to dig deeper into her studies, senior Julia Kenning said, “I really enjoy the humanities, and wish I had the chance to take more classes, so it’s nice to get the opportunity to ask professors about specific ones.”
A guide to majors, minors, and concentrations
Many students “Take the Tour” in order to gather information about the wide range of SHASS majors, minors, and concentrations.
“I haven’t decided my concentration yet,” junior Maria Messick explained at last year's event, “so I thought it would be useful to come check out the TOUR. I talked with my literature professor from last year, and I’m thinking about concentrating in either literature or economics.”
Hundreds of MIT students also double-major each year — pairing science or engineering studies with a second major in fields such as economics, music, writing, political science, and history.
Oluwatobi Lanre-Amos ’15, for example, was a double major in mechanical engineering and writing. "It’s amazing," he said, "that I have this opportunity to work with the great writers we have here at MIT.”
MIT's educational mission in the SHASS fields is to empower young students, thinkers, and citizens — to help them serve the world well, with innovations and lives that are rich in meaning and wisdom.
An MIT education provides both advanced technical/scientific knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the human complexities that shape our world. In MIT's SHASS classes, students gain perspectives on political, cultural, and economic realities, and skill in the powerful forms of thinking and creativity cultivated by the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
Some of the best testimony about the value of such an education comes from MIT's science and engineering alumni. Cammy Abernathy, a prominent MIT materials science graduate, who cites her MIT literature and art history classes as key to expanding her worldview, is now the dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Florida, with a frontline perspective on what engineers need to succeed.
She says, “Employers want students who can lead, work in teams, work across cultures, and especially communicate — and much of that ability comes from studies in literature, the arts, the social sciences. The world needs creative problem-solvers who can take into account the human perspective.”
TOUR de SHASS:
Thursday, September 10, 2015
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Bush Room (10-105)
Story prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial team: Emily Hiestand, Daniel Pritchard
Photography: Jon Sachs