MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017 Activities by Category - Politics and Social Sciences

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Activism, Organizing, and Social Movements

Patrick Brown

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Are you worried about threats to social justice, a stable climate, and democratic values under President Trump, but unsure what one person can do?

Have you been signing petitions and calling your congresspeople, but wanting more face-to-face interaction with action-oriented people at MIT?

Do you want to learn and share tools for being a more effective activist and find ways to get involved in local organizations?

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, attend this new IAP course on Activism, Organizing, and Social Movements. Starting the Wednesday after the inauguration and continuing throughout the rest of IAP, join a series of student- and staff-led sessions with the goal of developing together the skills and frameworks to understand and approach activism, organizing, and social movements in strategic and effective ways. The sessions are meant for all skill levels; whether you’re completely new to activism or are a veteran campaigner, come share your questions and knowledge. We’ll finish with an Activist Open House featuring a number of local activist groups, giving everyone a chance to learn about local organizing opportunities and commit to getting involved.

All sessions meet in 32-144 at 5pm (except for Fri 1/27, which meets in 32-124).

For the full schedule and to RSVP, visit

Sponsor(s): Fossil Free MIT
Contact: Patrick Brown, 617 324-3801, PRBROWN@MIT.EDU

Student activism panel

Jan/25 Wed 05:00PM-06:30PM 32-144

Why activism, and why MIT? Featuring students from Fossil Free MIT, MIT Democrats, CASE, and Solidarity MIT.

Digital security and anti-surveillance

Jan/26 Thu 05:00PM-07:00PM 32-144

In an era of mass surveillance, how can you practice activism (and the rest of your life) securely and privately?

Introduction to community organizing

Jan/27 Fri 05:00PM-07:00PM 32-144

How can you organize within your own community to achieve broad social change?

Power analysis and media strategy

Jan/30 Mon 05:00PM-07:00PM 32-124

What's your message, who needs to hear it, and how can you make yourself heard?

Intersectionality and effective allyship

Jan/31 Tue 05:00PM-07:00PM 32-144

How can we operate in solidarity with marginalized groups of people, particularly when coming from a background of privilege?

Class and inequality

Feb/01 Wed 05:00PM-06:30PM 32-144

How do class identities impact each of us, and how can we take them into account as an activist?

Activist organization open house

Feb/02 Thu 05:00PM-06:30PM 10-105

Hear from local grassroots groups about how to get involved. Featuring: Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Boston, Represent.Us, GreenRoots, Cambridge Progressive Action Coalition, Democratic Socialists of America, Brand New Congress, JETPAC, Engineering Activism, Solidarity MIT, FFMIT, MIT Democrats, MIT Class Awareness, Support, and Equality (CASE), MIT Student Activist Coalition (SACO), and MIT Stop Our Silence.

Turning ideas into action

Feb/03 Fri 05:00PM-06:30PM 9-255

What are your ideas and skills, and how will you work for change? Generate new ideas, form working groups, and make your plan for action.

Art and Politics

Ben Armstrong

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Artists are political actors. Critics and collectors might focus on the aesthetic beauty or dollar value of a piece, but social scientists can explore the role that artists and their work play in shaping political, social and economic life. The questions for these seminars are: how can art influence politics? What makes a piece of art politically important? Why is some art influential and others not?

These sessions are open to anyone interested in the topic but if anyone wants to attend all sessions and complete the work, this is also available as a for credit 3 unit IAP class (17.S916)  Contact the activity leader, Benjamin Armstrong via email ( and he will send you a syllabus.

Sponsor(s): Political Science
Contact: Ben Armstrong,

Does Hamilton Matter?

Jan/17 Tue 10:00AM-12:00PM E53-485

The Road from Art to Political Impact

Jan/19 Thu 10:00AM-11:00AM E53-485

Murals, Graffiti, Fine Art, Song, Anthem

Jan/24 Tue 10:00AM-11:00AM E53-485


Jan/26 Thu 10:00AM-11:00AM E53-485


Jan/31 Tue 10:00AM-12:00PM E53-485


Feb/02 Thu 10:00AM-12:00PM E53-485

Collaborative Sculpture: The Politics of Collective and Social Artistic Practice

Nathan Thomas Wilson, Artist and Educator, Jaishri Abichandani, Artist, Founder of South Asian Women's Creative Collective

Jan/09 Mon 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/10 Tue 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/11 Wed 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/12 Thu 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/13 Fri 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/17 Tue 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/18 Wed 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/19 Thu 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook
Jan/20 Fri 01:00PM-05:00PM W20-425, bring laptop and/or sketchbook

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: interest in sculpture and collaboration

Part contemporary theory seminar, part studio art class, this course will serve as an introduction to the politics of collaborative and social practices in contemporary visual arts. Class participants will organize artist collectives, and plan and execute site-specific sculptural installations informed by lectures and discussions. Each collective will address specific issues relevant to the wider community, with site-specific installation as their entry point. The installations will be rendered with the objective of igniting a critically self-reflexive dialog with an engaged community that encourages viewer participation. The collectives will be responsible for sourcing all installation materials. While participants are encouraged to use recycled and found materials, they may obtain materials by any means. Lectures by Jaishri Abichandani (founder, South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, New York and London) and Nathan Thomas Wilson (Co-founder, Kali Yuga Zoo Brigade artist collective, Philadelphia) will address the politics of authorship, place, commodification, art institutions, legibility of art, audience, and social interaction, as they relate to artistic practice in the context of late capitalism. Additionally, we’ll examine the parallels and discrepancies between contemporary collaborative art practices and MIT’s Hacking Culture.

For additional info and to sign up, visit:

Sponsor(s): MIT-SUTD Collaboration, Student Art Association
Contact: Nathan Thomas Wilson,

Contemporary Military Topics (series)

Joli Saraf

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Contemporary Military Topics (series of five sessions)

Sponsor(s): Center for International Studies, MIT Security Studies Program
Contact: Harlene Miller, 258-6531,

The Art & Science of Electronic Warfare

Jan/18 Wed 02:00PM-03:30PM E40-496, Lucian Pye Conf Rm

Navy Commander Bob Holmes discusses the art and science of electronic warfare (EW) and the Navy's newest EA-18G "Growler."  Bob recently commanded Electronic Attack Squadron 132 and will provide an unclassified presentation pertaining to EW, Growler capabilities & Navy equities within the Dept. of Defense.  He will recap the highlights of a recent deployment and show a motivational video shot from the cockpit.


Commander Robert Holmes, USN

John Boyd, OODA Loop, Next Gen Warfare

Jan/19 Thu 02:00PM-03:30PM E40-496, Lucian Pye Conf Rm

Air Force Captain John Boyd's mastery in tactical flying blossomed into a demonstration of expertise at the operational & strategic levels of warfare, paving the way for his famous Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) Loop.  The OODA Loop is widely used today in business, athletic and military strategies, yet many fail to understand its significance in representing future conflict and the next generation of warfare. 

Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, USAF

Sun-Tzu in Iraq 2008-2009

Jan/24 Tue 02:00PM-03:30PM E40-496, Lucian Pye Conf Rm

This one hour seminar will examine some of the basic tenets of Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War. Lessons learned from Sun Tzu will be analyzed through the perspective of a military advisor to an Iraqi Intelligence officer from 2008-2009. Embedded in the seminar will be discussion on decision making in grey environments.


LTC Joe Vongs, USA

America's 911 Force

Jan/31 Tue 02:00PM-03:30PM E40-496, Lucian Pye Conf Rm

The United States government has a wide range of available capabilities in the event of a crisis, domestic or overseas.  The US military has units trained to respond to a range of possible scenarios on short notice. This course provides an overview of capabilities from the Army and the Marine Corps, offering insight into these units, how they are organized, trained, and prepared to respond during times of crisis. 

LTC Joe Vongs, USA, Lt Col Daniel Coleman, USMC

US/Korea Alliance Overview

Feb/02 Thu 10:00AM-12:00PM E40-496, Lucian Pye Conf Rm

This session provides an overview of the 4 theater-level commands operating in So. Korea: Combined Forces Command; U.S. Forces Korea; UN Command; & the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Col Creamer covers their respective responsibilities, authorities, & communication channels, as well as their interrelationships & how the 4 commands influence and facilitate decisionmaking during crisis & contingencies on the Korean peninsula.

COL Shawn Creamer, USA

Creating and Measuring the Collective Mind

Peter Gloor

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: none

The Internet is exponentially increasing collective consciousness.  Our capability to instantaneously form global tribes, which share tastes, vocabulary, and mindset, has grown tremendously. Whether it is succeeding in a global organization, promoting a global brand or product, or increasing individual happiness, reading and influencing the collective mind is becoming an essential skill – just look at how far it has brought Donald Trump.

Part I (theory) - Creating the Collective Mind applies social quantum physics to build entanglement through empathy and individual reboot through Heisenberg reflection.  Everybody can become the leader of their own swarm by combining competition and collaboration for the greater cause of the swarm.  It also introduces the concept of Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs), as well as the Six Honest Signals of Collaboration: central leadership, balanced contribution, rotating leadership, responsiveness, honest sentiment, and shared context.

Part II (lab) - Measuring the Collective Mind is done by analyzing communication archives, e.g. e-mail, skype, Twitter, Wikipedia or Blogs, to build a virtual mirror of individual and organizational communication behavior, and change it for the better. Experiment yourself with the online social media analysis tool Condor.


Sponsor(s): Sloan School of Management
Contact: Peter Gloor, E94-1504D, 617 253-7018, PGLOOR@MIT.EDU

Creating the Collective Mind

Jan/09 Mon 03:00PM-05:00PM E94-1531, bring your laptop

This two-hour intro covers the basic ideas of how everybody can shape and create the collective mind on online social media. Become the leader of your swarm by combining competition and collaboration for the greater cause. Covers Socai Quantum Physics, Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs)  and the Six Honest Signals of Collaboration. You can also experiment with our online tools GalaxyScope and Wikitimemachine.

Peter Gloor

Measuring the Collective Mind

Jan/10 Tue 02:00PM-05:00PM E94-1531, bring your laptop


Measure what the collective mind thinks about yourself, about companies, products, and topics. Using the powerful social media analysis and monitoring tool Condor, you will visualize and analyze your e-mail, skype or Facebook wall, and Tweets, Wikipedia edits, and Weblinks.

Prior to the course install Condor from (needs Java and MySQL)


Peter Gloor

Defense R&D and the Military-Industrial Complex: Science and National Priorities

Subrata Ghoshroy, Research Affiliate

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: No pre-requisites, only an interest in defense policy

After the end of World War II, the U.S. embarked upon a policy to spend large sums of money for defense and created a "black budget" for nuclear weapons. The rationale was two-fold. One was to fight the growing threat of communism and the other was to spur the post-war economy. A big part of the defense budget was for R&D to develop science and technology for weapons, in order to have a technology edge over the USSR. The dual Cold War rationale - prosperity at home and fighting wars abroad - to contain "communist aggression" continues 25 years after the collapse of the USSR. Today, the U.S. military spends about $600 billion including between $70 billion and $80 billion for R&D. 1 trillion-dollar will be spent on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years, shortchanging the research on climate change, e.g. From the early days of the second world war, academics participated in the Manhattan project to develop the atomic bomb, the radar, missile guidance systems, etc. Today's subjects are artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and cyber defense, for example. The Pentagon also funds research in social sciences like political science, anthropology and psychology. Eisenhower's warning of the danger of a "military-industrial complex" (MIC) has come true.

There will be four sessions as follows:

  1. Defense spending, Congress, and the MIC
  2. The universities and the Pentagon
  3. Defense R&D: Innovation deficiency and Lost opportunites
  4. Flming of the award-winning documentary Why We Fight?


Sponsor(s): Science, Technology, and Society
Contact: Subrata Ghoshroy, E51-296, 617 253-3846, GHOSHROY@MIT.EDU


Our apologies for having to cancel this activity entirely, due to a prolonged medical issue. We were hoping to have the last day of the original session run as a condensed version, but unfortunately this is not possible.

Subrata Ghoshroy - Research Affiliate

Energy Policy in the context of Climate Change: the case of Mexico

Dr. Lourdes Melgar, CIS Wilhelm Fellow, former Deputy Secretary of Energy of Mexico

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

How does a country reconcile the search for energy security with a commitment to mitigate climate change? What dilemmas do policymakers face in an oil producing country committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Can the energy sector be decarbonized without hurting the economy? How does a government rally support for deployment of energy projects in indigenous communities? How do you ensure that oil revenues are well invested? Why is having a clean energy secure Mexico good for No. America?

In 2013, Mexico approved all-encompassing energy reform at the Constitutional level, simultaneously modernizing the hydrocarbons and electricity sectors following international best practices. Having earlier approved a Climate Change Law (2012), Mexico’s Energy Reform includes elements to promote clean energies and reduce GHG emissions.  

Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, states that “[t]his is not a reform, it's a revolution on an unprecedented scale.” In addition to its depth, Mexico’s energy reform is being implemented in record time. The sense of urgency comes from the need to fuel the country, comply with climate change commitments & boost the competitiveness of the economy.

This seminar, led by a major player in the design and implementation of this historic energy reform, aims at understanding the challenges and dilemmas policymakers face in designing a modern energy sector. Mexico’s Energy Reform will serve as reference for the discussion.

Sponsor(s): Center for International Studies, MIT Mexico Program
Contact: Laurie Scheffler, LAURIES@MIT.EDU

Session 1

Jan/09 Mon 10:30AM-12:00PM E40-496, Pye Conf Rm

Mexico's Energy Reform: Overview

Dr. Lourdes Melgar, CIS Wilhelm Fellow - former Deputy Secretary of Energy of Mexico

Session 2

Jan/11 Wed 10:30AM-12:00PM E40-496, Pye Conf Rm

Mexico's Upstream Sector: Resources, contracts and bids.

Dr. Lourdes Melgar, CIS Wilhelm Fellow - former Deputy Secretary of Energy of Mexico

Session 3

Jan/18 Wed 10:30AM-12:00PM E40-496, Pye Conf Rm

The Challenges of Creating Energy Markets

Dr. Lourdes Melgar, CIS Wilhelm Fellow - former Deputy Secretary of Energy of Mexico

Session 4

Jan/20 Fri 10:30AM-12:00PM E40-496, Pye Conf Rm

The transition to a low-carbon electricity sector

Dr. Lourdes Melgar, CIS Wilhelm Fellow - former Deputy Secretary of Energy of Mexico

Session 5

Jan/23 Mon 10:30AM-12:00PM E40-496, Pye Conf Rm

The Importance of Sustainability (financial, social and environmental)

Dr. Lourdes Melgar, CIS Wilhelm Fellow - former Deputy Secretary of Energy of Mexico

Fundamentals of Science and Technology Public Policy Making: MIT Sci/Tech Policy Bootcamp

William Bonvillian, Director, MIT DC Office

Enrollment: Fill out application by deadline
Sign-up by 12/09
Limited to 30 participants
Attendance: Participants should attend all sessions but it is not mandatory

This activity examines the public policy behind, and the government's role in the science and technology based innovation system. Emphasis placed on the U.S. S&T system, but international examples discussed. The seminar aims to equip those planning careers in and around science and technology with the basic background for involvement in science policymaking.

We cover the following topics:1)drivers behind science and technology support: growth economics, direct and indirect innovation factors, innovation systems theory, the "valley of death" between R&D and public-private partnership models; 2)organizing framework behind US science agencies, their missions and research organizational models, and the DARPA model as an alternative; 3)the way innovation is organized when it's face-to-face; 4)barriers and challenges to health science advance; 5)The energy technology challenge - how the science/tech innovation system needs to be organized to meet it within an existing and established complex economic sector; and 5) upcoming competitiveness challenge in advanced manufacturing.

Please fill out this web form by December 9 to participate in activity:

Sponsor(s): Political Science
Contact: Gyung Hoon Kang (Kenny),

Session 1

Jan/23 Mon 09:00AM-03:00PM 56-114

Session 2

Jan/24 Tue 09:00AM-03:00PM 56-114

Session 3

Jan/25 Wed 09:00AM-03:00PM 56-114

Session 4

Jan/26 Thu 09:00AM-03:00PM 56-114

Session 5

Jan/27 Fri 09:00AM-12:00PM Location TBD

Healing the Heart of Democracy: A Personal Journey in Dialogue With Others

Preeta Bansal, Visiting Scholar

Jan/12 Thu 01:00PM-04:30PM E14-240

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Limited to 18 participants

This course will provide an opportunity for deep personal reflection, in connection with others, around recent political events – notably, the U.S. Presidential election and the Brexit vote, as well as recent events in India, the Philippines, and elsewhere that have arguably signaled widespread populist unrest and disruption of governance-as-usual.  These events have brought to the forefront issues of economic class, race, gender, national and religious identity, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of democratic institutions to address such issues. 

This course will not be conducted in a traditional classroom or seminar format, but rather as a circle, where students share ideas and emotional meanings drawn from personal experience, practice deep listening, and engage in self-reflection while in community with one another.  The emphasis is on relationship-building, respectful dialogue, and personal “meaning excavation” and sharing.  A circle process has been cited as a critical tool in nurturing the habits that form the basis for meaningful self-governance and democracy.






Contact: Heather Pierce, E14-526B, 617 324-4914, HAC@MEDIA.MIT.EDU

Intro to Web Cartography - Mapping with LeafletJS

Mike Foster, Cartographer

Jan/31 Tue 02:00PM-03:00PM 9-554

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/27
Limited to 15 participants

The web has become a prominent way readers interact with maps and spatial data, with rich, informative visualizations and interactive maps becoming a common way to display data and showcase information. This short session is designed to introduce web mapping with Leaflet, a popular open source Javascript mapping library. It will take beginners through converting and uploading a dataset, accessing the Leaflet library, mapping the dataset, and adding basic interaction, such as popups. 


Sign up here:

Sponsor(s): Urban Studies and Planning
Contact: Michael Foster, 9-522, 617 324-8234, MJFOSTER@MIT.EDU

Irish History Session 1 - Modern Irish History & Culture: From Molly Malone to Nobel Laureates

Christopher LaRoche, User Experience Consultant

Jan/20 Fri 12:00PM-01:30PM E25-117

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: None

Discusses and investigates aspect of modern Irish history. Specifically, a discussion of how the images and concepts of Ireland and the Irish have evolved over the last several hundred years in the eyes of the greater world.
In this talk, we will discuss and investigate the history and culture of Ireland from the eighteenth century to the present. We'll pay particular attention to issues and topics such as Saint Patrick, the repression of Catholicism, the Famine of the 1840s, the 1916 Easter Uprising, the Anglo-Irish War of 1920-1921, the Irish Civil War, and Ireland since the declaration of an Irish republic in 1948.
Finally the lecture will focus on and discuss the idea of mythology and stereotype used in lieu of history and how that has shaped many opinions about Ireland: and how that has recently evolved from Ireland as a caricature to respectability within the wider world view.

Sponsor(s): Office of Undergrad. Advising/Academic Programming
Contact: Christopher Laroche, 7-143, 617 324-9016, LAROCHE@MIT.EDU

Irish History Session 2 - Northern Ireland: Mythology & Reality

Chris LaRoche, User Experience Consultant

Jan/27 Fri 12:00PM-01:30PM 1-150

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: None

Discusses the evolution of the cultural, social, and political situation that led to the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921. Investigates the various conflicts and history of the evolution of the Northern Irish state from its inception in 1921 until the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Particular emphasis is placed on the social and cultural issues of the main communities within Northern Ireland.

Sponsor(s): Office of Undergrad. Advising/Academic Programming
Contact: Christopher Laroche, 7-143, 617 324-9016, LAROCHE@MIT.EDU

Jewish Wisdom for Political Activism

Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder, Rabbi, MIT Chaplain

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/09
Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions
Prereq: Filling out the linked form

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 

Anne Frank,

With the benefits of the internet, citizens are more alert, informed, and communicative than ever. And for many, the timing could not be better, as many of the core principles that ensure our safety and well-being are being debated and decided. 

Now, more than ever, is the time learn the values, principles, and skills of activism. 

Activism takes many forms that share common foundations of attitude, persistence, clarity and communication. Study and practice concerning these foundations will have a lasting effect on individuals’ ability and willingness to be involved.The tradition of Jewish activism provides clarity and guidance around the core attitudes of activism, offering practical as well as timeless wisdom that can be focus on all manner of causes, not just “Jewish” ones. 

In this short course, we will read selections from two books on the topic of Jewish Activism and will take time to practice - through letter-writing, phone calls, and attendance at events, as appropriate. 

This course will not take place without sufficient interest and participation. Please fill out this form if you are interested.

Sponsor(s): Hillel
Contact: Gavriel Goldfeder, W-11, (617) 324-5882, HEYRABBI@MIT.EDU

Jan/11 Wed 12:30PM-01:30PM W-11, Lunch will be served
Jan/18 Wed 12:30PM-01:30PM W-11, Lunch will be served
Jan/25 Wed 12:30PM-01:30PM W-11, Lunch will be served

During these sessions, we will read passages from two books on the topic, and will take time to make phone calls, write letters, and send emails. Other sessions may be added that will require travel to sites of rallies and protests. 

Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder - Rabbi, MIT Chaplain

Movie Night: Idiocracy

Eugenia Beh

Jan/17 Tue 05:00PM-07:00PM 2-105

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

Corporal Joe Bauers, a US Army librarian, is the most average man in the world. But when he wakes up 500 years later after an army experiment goes awry, he finds himself in a world where he may be humanity's best hope for survival. Having just passed its tenth anniversary, Mike Judge's satirical sci-fi comedy is now more relevant than ever. Come laugh and cry and ask yourself, Can it happen here?

Contact: Eugenia Beh, 14E-210, 617 253-0605, EBEH@MIT.EDU

Planners Read Plato's "Gorgias"

Ezra Glenn

Jan/10 Tue 10:00AM-01:00PM 9-217, books provided

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/05

What is the role of oratory and power in a democratic society? Is it worse to do wrong or to be wronged? What is the difference between knowledge and true belief? Why is it important for both the accused and their judges to meet naked in court? (And what do all of these questions have to do with becoming an urban planner?) Come explore these themes with us in a participatory -- possibly dramatic -- reading of Plato's "Gorgias," a Socratic dialog written in 380 BC that is as relevant today as when it was written. Books provided; Greek food included; togas optional. 

Note: this is mostly an opportunity to actually read this wonderful and thought-provoking book with others, not a lecture; come prepared to read and take part, and we'll see how far we get.

Sponsor(s): Urban Studies and Planning
Contact: Ezra Glenn, 7-337, x3-2024,

Planning, Funding, and Implementing Transportation Projects in the Real World (or How It Really Works)

Eric Plosky, Kate Fichter

Jan/25 Wed 01:00PM-04:00PM 9-255

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

As a vital and complex element of any urban or regional environment, transportation infrastructure both affects and is affected by land use patterns, economic development policies, political power-brokering and environmental resources, and so offers a lens through which to study many of the choices and constraints available to today's planners. This seminar will offer a practice-oriented overview of the issues, players and trends most relevant to contemporary transportation planning, as taught by two MIT/DUSP alumni currently working in the field.

Sponsor(s): Urban Studies and Planning
Contact: Ezra Glenn, 7-337, x3-2024,

Pre-screening of Richard Leacock's unfinished film "November Actions"

Deborah Douglas, Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum

Jan/16 Mon 02:00PM-04:00PM 6-120

Enrollment: For MIT community only; RSVP required to

November Actions is a detailed depiction of a distinctive and significant campus protest incident at MIT in the fall of 1969. Produced by Richard Leacock, a well-known, innovative documentary filmmaker and former MIT professor, it is, arguably, the most important film ever produced about MIT. Few have ever seen it because shortly after completing the rough cut, Leacock found an anonymous note suggesting he was a “lackey” of the administration. In 1994, Professor Glorianna Davenport transferred the large collection of November Actions negatives, work prints, rough cuts and sound tracks to the MIT Museum. In 2010, when the MIT Museum was preparing its major MIT150 Exhibition, Davenport and another Leacock student and colleague, Brian Bradley proposed the idea of restoring the work. It was a spectacular idea but even better because Leacock himself agreed to allow them to finish the film for release. Lacking funding, the Museum prepared four short excerpts that were included in the exhibition. The MIT Museum has now secured the funds to complete the project and has plans to premier a “finished” version this June. Open to members of the MIT community only, including spouses & partners and alumni, this pre-screening is a unique opportunity see an extremely rare museum artifact depicting firsthand a very dramatic moment in both MIT’s and U.S. history. 

Sponsor(s): MIT Museum, Science, Technology, and Society
Contact: Deborah Douglas, N51 (MIT Museum), 617-253-1766,


Cameron Kerry, Visiting Scholar, Omer Tene, VP of Research & Education, Int'l Ass'n of Privacy Professio

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/04
Limited to 30 participants
Attendance: Attendance at all sessions strongly recommended
Prereq: None

Increases in the power and granularity of data science present new challenges to privacy, as it becomes possible to identify individuals and their behavior in novel ways.  Data sets containing information about individuals have become the raw material for research and analytics by businesses, governments, and scientists.

Data collection and analysis that does not anticipate privacy issues carefully can provoke trouble, as controversies ranging from government bulk surveillance to Facebook’s testing of subscriber moods demonstrate. This course will look at the issues of privacy and data science within a social and legal context and survey the complex grid of legal structures and institutions that govern privacy at state, national, and international levels. Students will critically analyze and discuss real-world privacy problems and explore information security and data management issues in the context of data science. 

The course will meet in four two-hour sessions during the weeks of January 9 and January 16.  The format will be a combination of lecture and dialogue between the teachers, along with student participation in Socratic dialogue and case studies or problems.  A major component is the suggested readings that provide an introduction both to basic concepts in privacy and current issues.

Contact: Cameron Kerry, E15-384A, 617-710-2719, CKERRY@MEDIA.MIT.EDU

The Right to Privacy: History, Culture,

Jan/09 Mon 02:00PM-04:00PM 15-359

The first session will look at the roots of privacy in culture, philosophy, anthropology, and political theory to address what privacy means and why it matters to people.

Cameron Kerry - Visiting Scholar, Omer Tene - VP of Research & Education, Int'l Ass'n of Privacy Professio

Law and policy overview

Jan/10 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM 15-359

Session Two will provide an overview of the two main systems of regulation of privacy and data protection: the United States and European Union.

Cameron Kerry - Visiting Scholar, Omer Tene - VP of Research & Education, Int'l Ass'n of Privacy Professio

Applied problems I (Identity)

Jan/18 Wed 02:00PM-04:00PM 15-359

In the second week, the course will turn to current problems in privacy especially relevant to data science.  Session Three will look at the increasing ability to identify individuals through aggregation and correlation fo data, and what that means for the concept of "personal information" and de-identification.

Cameron Kerry - Visiting Scholar, Omer Tene - VP of Research & Education, Int'l Ass'n of Privacy Professio

Applied problems II: ethics & algorithms

Jan/19 Thu 02:00PM-04:00PM 15-359

Session Four will look at the emerging policy issues of big data, analytics, and algorithmic decisionmaking.

Cameron Kerry - Visiting Scholar, Omer Tene - VP of Research & Education, Int'l Ass'n of Privacy Professio

Socialism vs. capitalism and war.

Felix Kreisel

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: Read the WSWS.ORG

World capitalist order, established by the US at the end of World War II and based on its economic hegemony, has crashed and the United States is at the center of economic and political convulsions. The American ruling elite is trying to reverse its long-term economic decline through frenetic military interventions in Ukraine, the Middle East and elsewhere, and by exporting its crisis to competitors. Inside the US the ruling oligarchy is dismantling all our democratic institutions and rights. Collapse of the Soviet Union and other so-called "socialist" states has exacerbated rivalries among the advanced capitalist countries and flashpoints of future wars are growing around the world.

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution and this class series will be devoted mainly to the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. We strongly suggest these readings:, the Marxist daily newspaper; Leon Trotsky's books: "History of the Russian revolution" and "Revolution Betrayed".

Contact: Felix Kreisel, NW21-109, 617 253-8625, FJK@MIT.EDU

American capitalism and new wars.

Jan/10 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

American "democracy" has a new face: Trump. We are seeing the collapse of the two-party system as both parties fielded their most hated candidates. Our mad rulers want to impoverish and enslave the American workers to make American capitalism competitive. Abroad, the ruling elite is provoking endless new wars in a desperate attempt to reverse its economic decline and conquer the world.

Felix Kreisel

Russia and America.

Jan/12 Thu 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

The election of Donald Trump, its meaning for the world and in Russia. Current tensions with the US and NATO. World historic significance of the Russian revolution 100 years on.

Vladimir Volkov

Tsar to Lenin, the Russian revolution.

Jan/17 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

History of the huge empire of the tsars and of its collapse. Dead end of capitalist development of Russia, emergence of the revolutionary working class and the Bolsheviks. What was the Bolshevik program?

Suggested reading: Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution".

Felix Kreisel

Documentary film about the revolution

Jan/19 Thu 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

We shall introduce and view a documentary film "From Tsar to Lenin", with original footage from the Russian Revolution. The preview can be seen here: The film will be followed by discussion. Suggested reading: Trotsky's "History of the Russian Revolution".

Felix Kreisel

Soviet Russia after the revolution.

Jan/24 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

We shall examine the early history of the Soviet state, from 1917 till the Nazi invasion of 1941. The two revolutions of 1917, the Civil War, its internal contradictions, great strides forward, achievements and bitter defeats, the ruling Stalinist regime's crimes against its own people and its betrayal of socialism. Suggested reading: Leon Trotsky's "The Revolution Betrayed".

Felix Kreisel

Soviet Union in WW II and Cold War

Jan/26 Thu 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

Soviet Union during and following World War II. Division of Europe marked a grand bargain of Stalinism with imperialism. While Stalin agreed to restore capitalism in the West, the US and Britain agreed to Soviet Union's domination in the East. We shall examine the history of the Cold War, the post-war decades in the life of the Soviet Union and its satellites, and the unravelling of this setup.

Felix Kreisel

Provincial Russia today

Jan/31 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

A Russian journalist will describe the changes in life and economy in one region of southern Russia over the quarter century of capitalist restoration.

Oleg P.

Capitalist Ukraine today

Feb/02 Thu 02:00PM-04:00PM 4-265

Three years ago the West had overthrown an elected government in Kiev using militant and agressive nationalists as shock troops. Since then, Ukraine's economy has collapsed, regional divisions are tearing the country apart, and the ruling elites have only one remedy: militant nationalism and war.

Felix Kreisel

Starr Forum presents: "Amour"

John Tirman, Executive Director, CIS

Jan/27 Fri 12:00PM-02:30PM E15-070, Bartos Theater

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

 Amour is a 2012 French-language romantic drama film written and directed by the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert. The narrative focuses on an elderly couple, Anne and Georges, who are retired music teachers with a daughter who lives abroad. Anne suffers a stroke which paralyses her on the right side of her body.

The film was screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards, and was nominated in four other categories: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuelle Riva), Best Original Screenplay (Michael Haneke) and Best Director (Michael Haneke). At the age of 85, Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

At the 25th European Film Awards, it was nominated in six categories, winning in four, including Best Film and Best Director. At the 47th National Society of Film Critics Awards it won the awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress. At the 66th British Academy Film Awards it was nominated in four categories, winning for Best Leading Actress and Best Film Not in the English Language. Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest person to win a BAFTA. At the 38th César Awards it was nominated in ten categories, winning in five, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.

2hrs 27m


Sponsor(s): Center for International Studies, MIT France Program, MIT Germany Program, CIS
Contact: Michelle Nhuch,

Starr Forum presents: "Cache"

John Tirman, Executive Director, CIS

Jan/20 Fri 12:00PM-02:00PM E15-070, Bartos Theater

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

Caché, titled Hidden in the UK and Ireland, is a 2005 French psychological thriller written and directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Daniel Auteuil as Georges and Juliette Binoche as his wife Anne, the film follows an upper-class French couple who are terrorized by anonymous tapes that appear on their front porch and hint at childhood memories of the husband.

Caché opened to acclaim from film critics, who lauded Binoche's acting and Haneke's direction. The ambiguities of its plot continue to attract considerable discussion among scholars; many have commented on the film's themes of "bourgeois guilt" and collective memory, often drawing parallels between its narrative and the French government's decades-long denial of the 1961 Seine River massacre. Caché is today regarded as one of the greatest films of the 2000s.

1h 57min

Sponsor(s): Center for International Studies, MIT Germany Program, CIS, MIT France Program
Contact: Michelle Nhuch,

Starr Forum presents: "White Ribbon"

John Tirman, Executive Director, Center for International Studies

Jan/13 Fri 12:00PM-02:30PM E15-070, Bartos Theater

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

The White Ribbon is a 2009 black-and-white German-language drama film written and directed by Michael Haneke.  It darkly depicts society and family in a northern German village just before World War I and, according to Haneke, "is about the roots of evil. Whether it’s religious or political terrorism, it’s the same thing."

The film premiered at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in May 2009 where it won the Palme d'Or, followed by positive reviews and several other major awards, including the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film also received two nominations at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2009: Best Foreign Language Film (representing Germany) and Best Cinematography (Christian Berger).

2h 24min


Sponsor(s): MIT Germany Program, CIS, MIT France Program, Center for International Studies
Contact: Michelle Nhuch,

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Henry Lieberman, Research Scientist, CSAIL, Christopher Fry

Jan/18 Wed 03:00PM-05:00PM 24-615

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: none

Indeed, why can't we? Why do we have war? Poverty? What can we do
about it? Will technological progress result in robots destroying
humanity? Will automation take all our jobs? Will there be ecological
disaster?  What's the future of government, industry, education,
transportation, justice?

We'll show you a simple mathematical, psychological, and evolutionary
model that explains why people get sometimes sucked into doing bad
stuff, even if they're not bad people. We'll also explain how new
technology, especially AI and 3D printing, can enable a more just,
prosperous, and more cooperative society. Young people now have an
opportunity to rethink government, the economy, education, and all of
our institutions. Let's do it!

Feeling frustrated about your new President and the process that got
him there? Can technology help? Yes.

Sponsor(s): Experimental Study Group
Contact: Henry Lieberman, 32G-475, (617) 500-5267, lieber@MEDIA.MIT.EDU

Why the Electoral College, which has succeeded so well, including in 1888 and 2000, failed in 2016.

Alan Natapoff, Research Scientist

Jan/18 Wed 04:00PM-05:30PM 37-252

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Prereq: none

A democratic voting system must deliver unanimous consent, of both majority and minority, to its outcome. It achieves it by assuring each voter large fair voting power.  Simple majority voting (SMV) can deliver that large power in a small, but not in any large realistic election.  The Constitutional majority-of-majorities (MoM) Electoral College system has succeeded for 180 years at large scale, despite its imperfections.  In 1888 and 2000 it elected the candidate with fewer popular votes which was, as baseball's season-scoring system is, consistent with its large goal.  It did the same in 2016, but without achieving unanimous consent.  The cure is to give all voters more power (especially in poorly-contested states) than they have now.   This can be done by drawing districts that are smaller and better-contested than states, and giving them national weight equal to the total number of votes actually cast in them.  We  survey, briefly, the debate over presidential voting systems and the mathematics of voting power.

Contact: Alan Natapoff, 37-147, 617 253-7757, NATAPOFF@MIT.EDU