As a freshman, you have the opportunity to participate in one of four learning communities. These unique groups with common interests offer programs which allow you to study and socialize as part of a smaller community while still taking advantage of the intellectual and cultural diversity of the Institute as a whole. Some of the communities offer versions of the freshman Science Core subjects; all offer electives and provide opportunities for lasting contact with faculty, staff, and upperclass students.
Descriptions and videos describing the programs follow below. Please also review the Learning Community Comparison Chart (PDF) for a quick glance at what the four programs offer.
The four freshman learning communities are:
- Terrascope (offers the subject Mission 2016)
- Experimental Study Group (ESG)
- Media Arts and Sciences (MAS)
Concourse is a small community of students and faculty dedicated to integrating the humanities into the traditional first-year curriculum through an exploration of the fundamental questions at the heart of all serious human inquiry. We are a tightly knit, supportive community, accepting 60 freshmen each year.
Our program offers small classes with rigorous instruction in the science and math General Institute Requirements as well as in the humanities. In our humanities curriculum and Freshman Advising Seminar we raise questions and encourage debate about human nature, ethics, the proper role of science in society and the possibility and character of true happiness. Concourse provides the advantages of a small school while retaining the vast range of opportunities offered by the Institute as a whole. Concourse students have close interactions with instructors and fellow students as well as Concourse Program alumni and prominent guest speakers in diverse fields from MIT and elsewhere.
Most important, your freshman advisor will be someone from Concourse's own faculty or staff.
Concourse's lounge, classroom, and kitchen are located at the heart of MIT's academic campus and encourages spontaneous and planned events, such as, pizza parties, breakfasts and other fun gatherings. We expect active participation of freshmen, faculty, staff, and upperclassmen.
If you are interested in joining the Concourse Learning Community, please list CC.A10 among your seminar choices on the Freshman Advising Seminar Application form. Preference will be given to those who indicate CC.A10 as their first seminar preference.
Additional information can be found at on the Concourse site,
View Concourse Video below.
Terrascope is a learning community with curricula designed to give you the tools to address important complex problems that require integrative multidisciplinary solutions. Most of the problems center on issues of the Earth’s environment and sustainability and it’s a great way to explore the feedbacks that characterize the behavior of complex dynamical systems. You will work as part of an inter-disciplinary team to solve problems that require teams of researchers working across traditional disciplinary boundaries. General Institute Requirements (GIRS) will be met by attending mainstream core subjects with other first-year students.
- If you join the Terrascope learning community, your freshman advisor will be one of our experienced faculty and staff.
In the Fall, all Terrascope students enroll in Mission 2016 (12.000, Solving Complex Problems), in which you and your team propose solutions to a compelling problem. Guest speakers at weekly luncheons, field trips, and hands-on experiences supplement class work.
- Terrascope students may choose to participate in a week-long field trip over spring break to a site related to the work of the year.
- In spring, 1.016, Design for Complex Environmental Issues, allows you and a team to develop and expand some of the solutions you proposed in fall.
SP.360, Terrascope Radio, enables you to fulfill a communication requirement while producing a professional-quality radio program on the year's subject. Terrascope students are assigned advisors from within the program.
During Spring 2010, Terrascope students went to Abu Dhabi to visit Masdar City and Institute as part of their year’s work on capture and storage of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere. Check out the students’ blog when you have a minute.
View Terrascope Video below.
ESG provides a personalized program for 50 first-year students who wish to take a more active role in their MIT education. In place of lectures, ESG students take their core subjects through small interactive classes and seminars (typically no greater than 10 students).
Classes are taught by 8 MIT faculty and staff members, assisted by 20 ESG upperclassmen, who are interested in small group learning and teaching. Students are encouraged to ask questions and participate during class, have input into the class assignments, and get to know ESG staff and fellow students. Credit is available in the freshman subjects in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics, as well as in writing (CI-HW). ESG subjects cover the same curriculum as the mainstream but allow for more interaction with instructors.
If you join ESG, your freshman advisor will be one of our faculty or staff members.
ESG classes take place in a 14-room facility (located on the top floor of one of MIT's central buildings). The facility is open 24-7 and includes a kitchen, study areas, and a lounge where students can study, socialize, or eat. We also offer weekly luncheons for community members as well as regular trips and outings. If you are interested in finding out more about ESG, check out our home page or contact Dr. Holly Sweet, ESG Associate Director.
View ESG Video below.
Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) offers a small group of first-year undergraduates the opportunity to pursue freshman subjects through a learning community. Emphasis is on research, both understanding how it is carried out and connecting current Media Laboratory research to core freshman subjects.
This program is intended for students who will pursue any undergraduate major at MIT.
You will be introduced to learning-by-apprenticeship that characterizes the MAS education mission.You will attend mainstream lectures in the core freshman subjects, but will attend recitation sections in chemistry and physics taught by MAS faculty. Again, the connection between subject matter and current Media Laboratory research is emphasized.
Students are encouraged to participate in one of two MAS Freshman Advising Seminars (MAS.A16 or MAS.A19). You must also take two MAS subjects. The first is design-oriented. The second is an introduction to research protocol, data collection and presentation of results. Spring semester, students are strongly encouraged to participate in a UROP at the Media Laboratory.
See the MAS site for additional information.