About Mission 2014:
The CLASS WEB SITE is located here.
At least a billion of the nearly seven billion people on earth are chronically malnourished. Population continues to increase in Asia and Africa where growth rates far exceed the annual global average of 1.17%. World population is expected to hit 9 billion by the middle of this century even though the overall growth rate is slowing. More, and wealthier, people create greater demand for food: especially processed food, meat, fish, and dairy. This increasing demand generates increased competition and puts more pressure on arable land, as well as depleting clean water and energy resources. Even more pressure comes from our dependence on fuels, as large amounts of farm land are used to produce biofuels instead of food. And then there's the oceans, which are already overfished. Recently, fisheries' experts have warned that three quarters of the world’s fish stocks are in distress and nearing collapse, all the while overall marine ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating, making it more difficult for them to bounce back even if fishing were stopped. Given that fish provide more than 2.9 billion people with at least 15 per cent of their average animal protein intake, and contribute more than 50 per cent of total animal protein in many small island countries, the collapse of the fisheries will have a huge impact.
On top of these individual problems are the impacts of climate change, as temperatures increase and precipitation patterns shift. Ultimately this will mean that both agriculture and people must move as ecosystems are modified and degraded. Recent studies by the the UN Food and Agriculture Organization suggest that the world will need at least 70% more food by 2050 and will have to produce it on less land. Because enhanced agriculture means greater environmental impact – including increased energy use, greenhouse gas production, reliance on pest management, nutrient run-off, biodiversity loss from land conversion and monocultures, soil loss, and overall water usage – we must utilize advanced cropping techniques, and possibly even an entirely new approach to agriculture, in order to mitigate those impacts. Special care will need to be taken, because in some cases during attempts to ameliorate these problems, large-scale, well-funded, state-of-the art and ultra-efficient, corporate farming enterprises – built with foreign investment in developing countries – might trample the rights of the native peoples.
Your mission is to design a plan that will produce and distribute enough food to feed the planet over the next century, while ensuring that efficiency and equity are maximized with minimal disruption to the environment. With a world population of 9 billion expected by 2050 – and a billion people currently malnourished – we simply cannot continue with business as usual. An integrated cost-effective global strategy is needed to ensure sustainable and equitable food security. This must include a major re-thinking of agricultural practices as well as modifying the diets of much of the world's population. To learn more about this topic, check out this reading list.
Mission 2014 is also part of the Terrascope program and the issues associated with feeding the world's population will be a year long theme of Terrascope. By enrolling in 12.000 you become part of the Terrascope program and community, even if you do not continue in the Spring.
Spring Field Trip:
During spring break in March of 2011 we will take a field trip to some part of the world where we can see first hand issues associated with food security in theory and practice.
"Solving Complex Problems" (12.000) is a nine-unit, Fall-semester subject designed to provide freshmen with the opportunity to work as part of an "imagineering" team to design a viable solution to a complex problem that requires an interdisciplinary approach. It is also known as Mission 2014 --Feeding the Planet: How do we provide Global Food Security in the next century
Each year's class explores a different problem in detail through the study of complimentary case histories and the development of creative solution strategies. It includes training in web site development, effective written and oral communication, and team building. Initially developed with major financial support from the Alex and Britt d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in MIT Education, 12.000 is designed to enhance the freshman experience by helping students develop contexts for other subjects in the sciences and humanities, and by helping them to establish learning communities that include upperclassmen, faculty, MIT alumni, and professionals in science and engineering fields.
The Mission class offer freshman a completely different way to learn. In contrast to the core classes that rely on lectures and problem sets, Mission attempts to teach students how to think about solving complex problems. Students in Mission are independent, largely self-directed, and interactive. They learn how to build teams and develop solutions that require teamwork between scientists and engineers. Mission students will learn that many problems are just too big and complex to be solved by any one person or discipline and must involve integration. At the end of the class the students of Mission will have developed new and innovative solutions to an "unsolvable" problem and been exposed to a variety of different disciplines.
History of the Class
Mission or 12.000 was offered first in Fall 2000, when the assignment (Mission 2004) was to develop a viable mission plan for the exploration of Mars with the aim of finding evidence for the present or past existence of life. The assignment for Fall 2001 (Mission 2005) was to design undersea research stations for both coral reef and abyssal environments. Fall of 2002 (Mission 2006) charged students with developing a strategy for monitoring and preserving the Amazon Rainforest. As in previous years, the students in Mission 2006 described their final design in a content-rich web site and an oral presentation in front of a panel of international experts. Mission 2007 was focused on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Mission 2008 - Galapagos, Mission 2009 -Tsunamis and Mission 2010 - Saving N'awlinz, Mission 2011 - Saving our oceans, Mission 2012 - Clean water-assuring clean fresh water for western North America, and Mission 2013 - CO2 sequestration.