HASS Exploration Subjects

HASS Exploration (HEX) subjects are classes that approach topics from different disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. They are recommended by MIT faculty to undergraduates as an option to become familiar with various methodologies in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. HEX subjects are taught by MIT faculty - presenting students an opportunity for faculty interaction.


Do HEX subjects count towards the HASS Requirement?

Yes, all HEX subjects may count towards the HASS Requirement. They can be used towards the Distribution, categories are noted in the online subject listings, or can be used as a HASS Elective.


Subjects offered Academic Year 2014-15:


21A.01 How Culture Works
Units: 3-0-9
H. Paxson

21H.001 How to Stage a Revolution
Units: 3-0-9
S. Aiyar, C. Leighton, L. Ekmekcioglu

21L.020J Globalization: The Good, the Bad and the In-Between
Units: 3-0-6
M. Resnick

21M.223J Folk Music of the British Isles and North America  
Units: 3-1-8
R. Perry, G. Ruckert



17.53 The Rise of Asia
Units: 3-0-9
M. T. Fravel, V. Narang, R. Samuels

21H.007J Empire: Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Studies
Units: 3-0-9
W. Broadhead, S. Frampton, E. Goldberg

21H.009 The World: 1400-Present
Units: 3-0-9
H. Nagahara, J. Ravel


HEX Subject not Offered Academic Year 2014-15:

17.28J The War at Home: American Politics and Society in Wartime
Units: 3-0-9
A. Berinsky, C. Capozzola

17.33 Building a Better World
Units: 3-0-9
C. Lawson

21L.017 The Art of the Probable
Units: 3-0-9
N. Jackson, A. Kibel, S. Raman

21M.013J The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture
Units: 3-0-9
C. Shadle, M. Fuller

24.912J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies
Units: 3-0-9
M. DeGraff


Information for Instructors

The HEX Program Defined
HEX subjects are team-taught classes that explore a major concept or topic from multiple viewpoints found across or within disciplines in the humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS). By showcasing the generative value of dialogue and debate among diverse disciplines, specialties, theoretical frameworks, or methodologies, HEX subjects allow students to approach a given problem, phenomenon, or topic from multiple vantage points. Emphasizing close interaction with faculty, the courses encourage the development of foundational skills such as critical reading and analysis of primary materials. More broadly, they provide a pathway into modes of thinking that are central to the HASS curriculum and offer students an oppportunity to explore concepts, topics, and histories that are crucial to understanding and inhabiting the complex world in which we live.

HEX subjects are open to undergraduates of all years. Class sizes vary but student enrollment should not exceed 25 students per instructor (faculty or senior lecturer).

Teach a HEX Subject
Advantages in being part of the HEX Program include the opportunity to explore topics through multiple lenses, team-teaching, becoming familiar with the pedagogical strategies of colleagues and sharing or developing new research and curricular ideas. Instructors in the SHR-recommended Program have occasion to build relationships with fellow instructors in other departments and teach previously unreached students about their area of expertise. Events such as the annual HEX Instructors Luncheon over IAP provide opportunities to share experiences, perspectives, challenges and pedagigical innovations.

MIT instructors interested in teaching in the HASS Exploration Program can contact the Subcommittee on the HASS Requirement, their Department Head, or SHASS Dean's Office for more details.

Funding for HEX subjects is avaliable through d'Arbeloff Fund for Excellence in Education. Current proposals are due October 01. 2014.


HEX Program Background

In 2006, the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons recommended the creation of a Program of subjects geared towards first-year students that would provide an entry into the study of humanities, arts, and social sciences at MIT. Since then, faculty have fostered a group of experimental subjects designed to accomplish these goals. The Subcommittee on the HASS Requirement was charged with assessment and oversight of the HASS Exploration Program. More information about the Program assessment can be found on the Reports page.




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