In a new book, MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman asserts that we need to overcome the Internet’s sorting tendencies and create tools to make ourselves ‘digital cosmopolitans.’
The 25th Independent Activities Period will be longer and academically stronger than ever before.
The IAP Guide, published last week, features 612 activities organized in a new format to make it easier for people to find activities that interest them.
IAP has been extended to a full four weeks, half a week longer than in previous years. It will run from Monday, January 9 to Friday, February 3. The extension of IAP is part of this year's new academic calendar, approved by the faculty in spring 1993.
With additional days in IAP, faculty can more easily schedule subjects of six or more units. As a result, 15 of the 26 new subjects for credit are for six or more units. These subjects include: Picosecond Lasers and Thin Films, Climate System Computer Lab, Electron Microprobe Analysis, Classics in Eastern Philosophy, Intensive French Language and Culture and Intensive German Language and Culture.
Lawrence Bacow '72, chair-elect of the faculty and a professor in Urban Studies and Planning, was an undergraduate when IAP was first introduced. He remembers the early years of IAP as "an incredible smorgasbord of activities." IAP 1995 promises to be no different. While credit subjects are being strengthened, IAP has lost none of its passion for activities distinguished by their variety, innovative spirit, and fusion of fun and learning. With 531 such activities, there will literally be something for everyone.
Searching for activities should be quicker and simpler this year. Rather than being listed under the instructors' departments, the general activities are grouped topically, with cross-listings under the departments' names. The 499 general activities are followed in the Guide by 79 credit subjects and 34 physical education offerings.
According to Marshall Hughes, program administrator of the Edgerton Center, they've "had many more calls for activities this year as a result of the Guide's new user-friendly organization. Students are finding activities better."
What makes IAP unique is the opportunity for students and staff, as well as faculty, to organize activities. One notable example is "A Brief Introduction to Law," celebrating its 25th offering. It is still taught by Dr. Jeffrey Meldman '65, now a senior lecturer in the Sloan School of Management and director of its undergraduate programs, who introduced the activity while he was a graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1971.
"I was delighted to have a chance as a grad student to bring a course into being and have people attend," he said. "That was a great creative opportunity and I think that is one of the great needs that IAP continues to serve."
The tradition continues this IAP, with 67 activities offered by graduate students and 60 by undergraduates. They include: Writing HTML, a Crash Course in Canadianism, the Waltz Workshop, Don't Read This!, and the 17th Annual IAP Mystery Hunt.
Other popular activities returning this year are the LEGO Robot Design Contest, the IAP Mystery Hunt, the Paper Airplane Contest, Private Pilot Ground School, Ballroom Dancing, the Math Music Recital, a Crash Course in C, Die Brucke: Bridge Building Contest, Wine Tasting, and the whole gamut of lecture series, from Aeronautics to Operations Research.
Highlights from the new activities include the return of the Concrete Canoe Contest after several years' absence and the introduction to a summer internship program in Washington DC. Other new offerings are on bonsai, bow-ties, backgammon, baseball, and beer-tasting.
One of the chief highlights of IAP 1995 will be the third annual Charm School, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, noon-4pm, when participants can visit booths in Lobbies 7 and 10 for instruction and advice on small talk, clothing style and appropriate etiquette for all occasions. This successful and entertaining activity will be bolstered by the appearance of Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners, the nationally syndicated columnist, who will deliver the Charm School Commencement Address in Rm 10-250.
Anyone interested in joining Charm School's faculty should contact "Headmistress" Alberta Lipson, assistant dean of undergraduate academic affairs, Rm 20B-140, x3-8604, or at
Copies of the IAP Guide and accompanying Timetable are available in the IAP Office, Rm 7-103. It can also be accessed through the Fishwrap on Athena.
A version of this article appeared in the December 14, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 15).