The great strength of MIT lies not only in the fact that it fosters creativity and innovation in science and technology, but that it also pioneers in exploring the social and cultural environments in which science and technology are produced.
A chief concern of the School's undergraduate program has long been the provision of subjects to fulfill the Institute's Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Requirement. The object of the requirement, broadly stated, is to ensure that every undergraduate at MIT is exposed to a wide range of interpretive and analytic approaches in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
Humanities, arts, and social science programs emphasize teaching, research, and performance. Through their publications, lectures, and seminars, the faculty strive to expand the frontiers of human knowledge and awareness. Interdisciplinary collaboration is a hallmark of this activity.
The School's five doctoral programs (Economics; History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society [HASTS]; Linguistics; Philosophy; and Political Science) are among the leading graduate programs of their kind in the world. They prepare students primarily for teaching and research careers in universities and colleges, but also for government service, industry, and finance. The School also offers master's degrees in Comparative Media Studies, Political Science, and Science Writing.
Minor programs have been established in all of the School's sections, programs, and departments, as well as in African and African Diaspora Studies, Ancient and Medieval Studies, Applied International Studies, Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies, Chinese, Comparative Media Studies, International Development, Latin American and Latino Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Psychology, Public Policy, Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies. These minors offer another opportunity for focused undergraduate exploration in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. For further details, see the section on interdisciplinary undergraduate minors in Part 3.
In response to the increasing demand on US campuses for internationalization of the curriculum, the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section has created new language and culture programs in Japanese and Chinese. The Japanese Language and Cultural Program has built the most technologically advanced Japanese language and culture education curriculum in the world, using online computer networks and interactive videos. The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, located at the Center for International Studies, support student internships in China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and Spain.
The School's newest graduate degree program is an SM in Science Writing, which focuses on the ability to interpret and explain science to the wider public. The School also offers an SM degree and an SB degree in Comparative Media Studies; both degree programs focus on new and historical media and their global impact on society, economy, and politics.
MIT's Course 21 (Humanities) was considered innovative when it was established in the 1950s, although its roots go back to the opening of the Institute in 1865. The 1865 course bulletin offered a curriculum option called the Course of Science and Literature, which encompassed the study of humanities and social science subjects. The science and literature option developed into Course 9, and by 1882 was renamed General Studies, offering "a larger amount of history, economics, language, and literature than is possible in technical courses."
After the Second World War, MIT's evaluation of general and humanistic education changed dramatically. The Institute saw the need to emphasize the "humanistic-social stem" of the engineering curriculum. During the postwar period, the School of Humanities and Social Studies (later the School of Humanities and Social Science) was established, allowing students to pursue a degree that combined engineering or science with humanities in a 60/40 ratio over four years. By this time, the Department of Economics and Social Science had been established within the School, attracting some of the nation's best graduate students and achieving recognition as a leading department.
During the 1960s the School grew rapidly, was reorganized into most of its current departments and sections, and began to grant full-scale degrees. In 1965, Political Science became a separate department, offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Philosophy, History, Literature, and Music all emerged as separate sections. In 1966, for the first time ever, MIT students could major in the humanities.
In the 1970s the School continued to define separate programs: the Anthropology and Archaeology Program (now Anthropology Program), established in 1971, and the Writing Program (now Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies), established in 1974. A rearrangement of sections in 1976 produced the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. The interdisciplinary Program in Science, Technology, and Society began in 1977, and in 1988 a doctoral program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (later called the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society program) was established in collaboration with the faculties of History and Anthropology. In 1990, the School replaced the generic SB degree in Humanities with SB degrees in specified areas of humanistic study: Anthropology, History, Literature, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Music, and Writing. In 1999, it introduced an SM degree in Comparative Media Studies and in 2002, an SM degree in Science Writing. In 2003, an SB degree in Comparative Media Studies was introduced. To reflect the growth and incorporation of the arts at MIT and in celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2000, the School changed its name to the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.
The interdepartmental centers, groups, and programs that reside in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences include the following:
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Laboratory
Center for International Studies
Women's and Gender Studies Program
Knight Science Journalism Fellows Program
See Interdisciplinary Research and Study in Part 3 for further information.
Said and Done is the monthly, photo-rich publication from the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, integrating feature articles with news, research, and events to give a distilled overview of the School's endeavors. Said and Done, which is published on the School's website and on MIT News, is also distributed via email to the campus community, alumni, and friends of the School. All issues of Said and Done, as well as issues of the previous publication, Soundings, are available online. For current and previous editions, visit http://shass.mit.edu/magazine/.
Deborah K. Fitzgerald, PhD
Professor of the History of Technology
Kenan Sahin Dean
Christopher Capozzola, PhD
Associate Professor of History
Acting Associate Dean
Marc B. Jones, BA
Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration
Anne Marie Michel, MA
Assistant Dean for Development
Susan Mannett, BA
Director of Human Resources for SHASS
Emily Hiestand, MA
Senior Communications Officer