As educators at MIT, we are fortunate to work with motivated students. They have shown by their decision to come to MIT that they are willing to work hard and are eager to learn. As faculty we have specific expertise that we want to impart to them. However, we also desire to give them the general education (knowledge, skills and attitudes) that will empower them when they leave. We wish to prepare them both for immediate contributions to society and 15 and 25 years out for continued growth and service. Part of the way we do this is through deep faculty engagement with the Commons here at MIT. To this we as faculty must commit some of our energy!
We start with the vision of what we wish to accomplish with the time we have with students. The Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons identified a bold vision: At MIT we are committed to providing an education which is one grounded in science and technology that:
The need for this kind of education is greater than ever. In this century we face major societal choices that are shaped by and will shape science and technology, within a world transformed by globalization and values-driven religious and political struggles. Our education must prepare our students to serve and lead in this world.
We devote approximately half our educational effort to the General Institute Requirements (GIRs). All our undergraduates receive a core education in science and mathematics, a year’s worth of humanities, arts, and social science education, and are offered the opportunity to undertake a research experience with a faculty member through UROP.
Two important principles that go back to the founding of MIT underlie this educational mission. These are the unity of the faculty and the commitment of the faculty to participate in the Commons.
The unity of the faculty means that all faculty can teach undergraduates and graduate students alike, and all faculty have important contributions to make. We do not, like some schools, divide ourselves into a Management faculty and a Science faculty and a Humanities faculty, or a Graduate School Faculty and an Undergraduate Faculty, and only expect some subset to interact with our undergraduates.
The commitment of the faculty to the Commons means that we value, at every level, the unified faculty’s involvement in a set of activities that help provide for or sustain this common experience for our students. This set of activities includes:
Daniel Hastings is Dean for Undegraduate Education.
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