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From city to city, MIT Better World connects alumni and ideas

New MIT Better World video playlist documents events touching on the science of teaching and learning, challenges in environment and sustainability, and more.
Attendees at the MIT Better World San Diego event in March 2019
Attendees at the MIT Better World San Diego event in March 2019

In New York City, they filled a theater in Times Square to hear how MIT is evolving to provide its students with the best educational experience in and out of the classroom. They converged on hotel spaces in San Francisco and Palo Alto and Los Angeles and San Diego, California, to discuss the science of teaching and learning, as well as ways researchers are meeting environmental challenges. Over the course of the past academic year, MIT alumni and friends have turned out in each of these locations — not just for insights into how the MIT community is making a better world, but to see each other and to reconnect with a global network that thrives on the lively exchange of ideas.

While those gatherings have passed, the ideas live on. A new playlist of videos recaps the programming from these and other MIT Better World events held since 2018. Among the moments recorded:

  • In New York, Edward Fan ’19, PhD candidate Candace Ross SM ’18, architecture professor and Environmental Solutions Initiative Director John E. Fernández ’85, and associate dean of engineering and Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering Peko Hosoi took turns recalling the moment each found community at MIT.
  • In Houston, Texas, Dina Katabi SM ’99, PhD ’03, the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, described how an obsession with "Star Wars" and MIT’s “outside-the-box” culture helped her to develop a new wireless monitoring technology for health care.
  • In the San Francisco Bay Area, Sanjay Sarma, vice president for open learning and Fred Fort Flowers (1941) and Daniel Fort Flowers (1941) Professor of Mechanical Engineering, explained how MIT’s “very controversial decision … to give its entire curriculum away for free to the world” is playing out two decades later in the gig economy.
  • In Southern California, MIT School of Architecture and Planning Dean Hashim Sarkis asked for signs of hope in the face of daunting climate challenges, with responses from Dennis Whyte, Hitachi America Professor of Engineering, head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, and director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center; and Meghana Ranganathan, a PhD student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

As the MIT Campaign for a Better World continues, so does its tour of cities. In Atlanta, Georgia, on Oct. 18, a panel will share how MIT is pioneering new insights into the social implications of artificial intelligence. The speakers will include Hope M. Barrett ’98, director of audience intelligence at CNN and a member of the MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors; Thomas W. Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management and founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence; Melissa Nobles, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and professor of political science; Harini Suresh ’16, MEng ’17, a PhD student in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; and Maria Zuber, MIT vice president for research and the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics.

Zuber will also appear in London, England, on Nov. 8, to continue conversations around environment and sustainability. Joining her will be panelists Alpha Yacob Arsano SM ’17, a PhD candidate in architecture and researcher at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab; and Jason Jay PhD ’10, MIT Sloan senior lecturer and director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.

In 2020, alumni in the Westchester, New York, and Fairfield, Connecticut, areas will convene to talk innovation and entrepreneurship on Feb. 27, and the Toronto, Canada, community will gather for a science-themed discussion on April 29. Additional topics and locations will be announced in the coming months. 

Learn more about MIT Better World events and how to register to attend.

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