MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The Integrated Studies Program (ISP) offers a curriculum for first-year students built around the study of a variety of technologies practiced in different cultures and historical periods. ISP promotes a form of education that seeks to show students the interrelatedness of ideas and processes in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Hands-on learning is emphasized as a complement to the theoretical work that is a typical component of the first-year curriculum. ISP's overarching goal is to provide students the academic and social foundation for success at MIT and beyond by creating a community devoted to team-work, inquiry, and life-long learning.


Formerly housed administratively in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, ISP is now under the joint sponsorship of SHSS and the School of Engineering. The program has also reorganized administratively so that students take an increasingly greater responsibility in running the workshops connected to our HASS-D subjects on technologies. We have also begun offering two seminars jointly with the Experimental Studies Group (ESG). The first is a student-taught seminar on Robotics, which stresses concepts encountered in 8.01; it includes `brown bag robotics kits' for each student. The second, the Art of Color, is taught by Dr. Peter Dourmashkin, who is on the staffs of both ESG and ISP; it is a studio course which explores the interactions of colors.

The two semester HASS-D subjects on technologies that form the core of ISP were once again marked by hard work, creativity and enthusiasm of the students. The primary responsibility for these subjects lies with Peter Dourmashkin and Professor Arthur Steinberg. In a desire to further improve these offerings and their delivery, we instituted a number of changes including smaller weekly discussion groups, a very successful project on team-constructed business plans for new textile mills in the 19th century Merrimack Valley, and a unit on constructing and running remote-control cars. Besides these HASS-D subjects we offer recitations in some of the science and math core subjects, and tutorials for students who request them.

We will miss the following staff members who left us this year: Dr. Betsey Price, Christopher Craig, and Wilfredo Sanchez. We welcome a new member, Frederica Steinberg, Lecturer in Writing.


In order to increase participation by members of underrepresented minority groups and women, ISP hosted an open house during Campus Preview Weekend for pre-frosh, and students enrolled in Interphase were invited to a luncheon. Of the 41 students enrolling in the fall, 22 were members of underrepresented minority groups (12 male; 10 female). In spring, of the 40 who enrolled, 13 were members of underrepresented minority groups (6 male; 7 female). These enrollment figures represent ISP's most successful recruitment among the minority community and a goal for 1996-1997 is to develop a closer working relationship with the Office of Minority Education to identify unique needs of this group.


ISP introduced a writing component under the leadership of Ms. Steinberg. This writing program is built around short, developmentally effective writing assignments integrated within ISP's fall and spring HASS-D subjects. Students also worked on writing though a variety of activities including journals, peer conferences and brain-storming sessions, and workshops devoted to specific topics. Students received quick feedback on their papers from a group of upperclass graders, so that improvements could be incorporated in a timely fashion on subsequent assignments.

ISP is overseen by Arthur Steinberg, Director, and Debra Aczel, Program Coordinator.

Arthur Steinberg

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96