MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


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 strives to provide students the academic and social foundation for success at MIT and beyond by creating a community devoted to team approaches to design and problem solving, inquiry, enhanced communication skills, 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 offered a seminar jointly with the Experimental Studies Group (ESG): a student-taught seminar on Robotics, which stresses concepts encountered in 8.01; it includes `brown bag robotics kits' for each student.

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, with Frederica Steinberg coordinating the integrated writing component. To improve students' competency in writing, designing presentations, and working as part of a team to develop an idea, we have added new material to these subjects and modified existing approaches. In fall semester, students worked in small teams to construct an oral history of Building 20 by interviewing and videotaping current and former residents of the building, and researching their contributions by using the MIT Archives. In spring we ran a very successful project on team-constructed business plans for new textile mills in the 19th century Merrimack Valley.

Workshops connected to the humanities subjects were enhanced by the participation of guest presenters, including Toby Bashaw, blacksmith, Debbie Watson, weaver and dyer, and Dr. Ed Franquemont, anthropologist and specialist on Incan weaving.

ISP ran a weekly luncheon for freshmen with guests from the MIT and greater community speaking about their work.

ISP is continuing to develop a strong writing curriculum 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. At the heart of the program is prompt feedback on outlines, drafts, and final papers from a grading staff, including undergraduates. Students also worked on writing though a variety of activities including journals, peer conferences and brain-storming sessions, and workshops devoted to specific topics.

Besides these HASS-D subjects ISP offered recitations in some of the science and math core subjects, and tutorials for students who request them.

ISP welcomes Renée Hoffman as a new support staff member.

Of the 26 (16 male; 10 female)students enrolling in the fall, 4 were members of underrepresented minority groups. In spring, of the 39 (25 male; 14 female) who enrolled, 4 were members of underrepresented minority groups.

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

Arthur Steinberg

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97