Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons

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Task Force on Student Life & Learning
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The presidentially appointed Task Force on Student Life & Learning was charged in 1996 with undertaking a comprehensive review of MIT's educational mission on the threshold of the 21st century. The final report published in 1998 provided insight into the principles that define MIT and the attributes of an educated individual. In addition, the Task Force made recommendations regarding the General Institute Requirements, advising, the first year, teaching, and undergraduate research.

With regard to the GIRs, the Task Force on Student Life & Learning observed that:

The GIRs serve several purposes: they provide a background in the fundamentals of science and the humanities; they represent a shared cultural experience that helps define the MIT community, and they provide exposure to a variety of problem-solving methods. A major strength of the current GIR system is its balance between subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, and subjects in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. The balance between these broad groups embodies MIT's commitment to combining a professional education with a liberal education. The balance of formal requirements serves MIT students well, although there is room for improvement in terms of the degree of intellectual commitment students make to non-technical subjects.

At the same time, however, the actual content and structure of the GIRs are not timeless: changes in the way scientists and engineers understand the world demand the GIRs be continually reviewed and updated. In general, reviews of the GIRs - whether of the HASS or science curricula -should ask how well the current subjects contribute to the development of the educated individual.

To view the final report and other documents produced by the Task Force on Student Life & Learning, visit their website.

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