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The Technology and Culture Forum is a ministry of the Episcopal Chaplain at MIT, and grows out of the church’s commitment to peace, justice, and upholding human dignity. Our programs challenge participants to consider how their work as scientists, engineers, managers, and citizens furthers these ideals.

During the academic year, TAC hosted programs on where morals come from and why it matters, financing Islamic terrorism, international development, the dignity of difference, on-line gambling, Lebanon's political gridlock, Massachusetts health care policies, Darwinism and intelligent design, computer-generated inventions, women as peacemakers, contemplative science, mind and physics, global climate change, international development and international development ethics.

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Forums 2007-2008

Youth Summit on Global Warming

Saturday, May 10
The Stata Center, Building 32

Join us for the 2nd Annual Youth Summit on Global Warming hosted by T&C and the Boston Latin School's Youth Climate Action Network. MIT President Susan Hockfield will make opening remarks, along with Boston's Mayor Tom Menino. The day will be filled with informative and fun workshops, free food and prizes. Last year's summit was a big success and this year's promises to be even better. To register, please click on here and connect to the BLSYouthCAN registration page.

Is Development Good?

A Talk by Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Associate Professor of Law and Development
Tuesday, April 29
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Listen to this program

As part of Technology and Culture Forum's ongoing look at Development Ethics, Professor Rajagopal will address the question, "Is development good?"

Prof. Rajagopal served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, and has consulted with UN agencies, international organizations and leading NGOs on human rights and international legal issues.

Co-Sponsored with the MIT Program in Human Rights and Justice.

What Are Ethical Development Practices?

A talk by Paul Polak
Monday, April 7
5:30pm in room 4-163

>> Listen to this program

American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr. Paul Polak, was named by Scientific American magazine as one of the Scientific American 50- the noted magazine's second annual list recognizing outstanding acts of leadership in technology in 2003. Polak was named policy leader in Agriculture because of his work with rural farmers in developing nations worldwide. The founder/president and CEO of the non-profit organization, International Development Enterprises (IDE), Polak has worked for decades to help the world escape the devastating effects of poverty through facilitating income generation. Polak works from the base knowledge that lack of water, particularly clean water, is the cornerstone of poverty. IDE has pioneered the development and rural mass marketing of affordable technologies through the small enterprise private sector in developing countries.

Co-sponsored with D-Lab

International Development Night @ MIT

The 15th Annual J. Herbert Hollomon Memorial Symposium

From Imagination to Innovation: Pioneering Solutions to Global Challenges
A talk by Amy Smith
Friday, April 4

Reception and Expo to Follow
MIT Museum

Join us for an exciting evening featuring a talk by AMY SMITH. Amy Smith, MIT class of 1984 and a 2004 MacArthur "genius" grant recipient, teaches MIT's D-Lab and is the co-creator of MIT's IDEAS Competition. She is co-founder of the International Development Initiative and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Immediately following Amy's talk, please join us for an fascinating expo and reception featuring the latest innovations coming out of MIT. These events are in conjunction with the International Development Conference at Harvard.

Advancing the Legacy of William James:

The Radically Empirical Study of the Mind
B. Alan Wallace

April 2 at 7pm at MIT Simmons Hall
4-270 (Free Parking in West Gate Lot)

Contemplative Science, Mind, & Physics:

Conversations with Alan Wallace
B. Alan Wallace
Moderator: Professor Christopher Moore, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT

April 3, 2008 at 10:30am
46-3189 (The McGovern Institute)

B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., is a dynamic lecturer, progressive scholar, and one of the most prolific writers and translators of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Wallace continually seeks innovative ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices with Western science to advance the study of the mind.

A scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970, Dr. Wallace has taught Buddhist theory and meditation throughout Europe and America since 1976. Having devoted fourteen years to training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordained by H. H. the Dalai Lama, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree in physics and the philosophy of science at Amherst College and a doctorate in religious studies at Stanford.

With his unique background, Alan brings deep experience and applied skills to the challenge of integrating traditional Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with the modern world.

Co-Sponsored with MIT Prajnopaya, The School for Humanities and Social Sciences, and the MIT Department of Philosophy.

Dissolving War: Women as Peacemakers

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini

Friday, March 14

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini's latest book, "Women Building Peace: What They Do, Why it Matters," continues her ground-breaking exploration of gender and conflict. A longtime consultant to the U.N. and NGOs on these issues, Anderlini has produced several important field studies and analyses of how women build and sustain peace in their war-torn countries and communities, often in unconventional ways.

Sanam Naragi Anderlini was born and raised in Iran and educated at Cambridge University in the U.K. She has held leadership posts with International Alert, Women Waging Peace, and is now, in addition to her consultancies, a Research Affiliate of MIT's Center for International Studies. She worked as a marketing consultant and television news researcher before joining International Alert in 1996 as a speechwriter and researcher to the then Secretary-General. In 1998 she co-authored Civil Wars, Civil Peace, An Introduction to Conflict Resolution (Pluto Press 1998) before joining the Forum on Early Warning and Early Response as Managing Editor. In 1999 she researched and authored Women at the Peace Table: Making a Difference, for the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) see http://www.unifem.undp.org/peacebook.html. Throughout 2000 she was the Senior Policy Adviser on the global campaign: Women Building Peace: From the Village Council to the Negotiating Table, advocating for a UN Security Council resolution on women peace and security.

Co-Sponsored with the Center for International Studies.

Computer-Generated Inventions: Risks and Ethical Implications

Thursday, March 6
Robert Plotkin, Esquire; '93

We think of inventing as a uniquely human activity. Yet now computers are automating substantial parts of the inventive process, producing designs for everything from toothbrushes to antennas currently on a NASA space mission. Yesterday's inventors designed the physical details of their inventions. In contrast, today's inventors are beginning to invent by writing abstract descriptions of the problems they wish to solve, providing those problem descriptions to computers, and then sitting back while the computers produce concrete designs for machines that solve the problems described.

Although such "artificial invention" technology promises to increase our capacity to satisfy our material needs more easily than ever before, it also will require us to rethink what it means to be an "inventor" and how to draw the line between a description of a machine and the machine itself. For example, does someone who uses a computer to create a new antenna qualify as an "inventor" of that antenna, even if that person does not understand how or why the computer-generated antenna works? Artificial invention also raises ethical questions. For example, is someone who publishes an abstract description of a harmful machine ethically responsible for harm subsequently caused by that machine when someone else uses a computer to transform the description into the machine itself? Although such scenarios may sound like science fiction, courts have already begun to wrestle with the legal aspects of such questions in real lawsuits.

Join us to learn about the revolution that is computer-automated inventing and its implications at this presentation by Boston intellectual property lawyer Robert Plotkin,MIT '93, author of a forthcoming book on artificial invention.

Darwin, Design and Religion: Lessons from the Dover Monkey Trial

Thursday, February 21, 2008
MIT Museum

Kenneth Miller, Brown University biology professor, textbook author and lead witness, will give an informal talk for teachers and community members. The format will allow Q and A and discussion about preserving the right to teach evolution in public schools.

Re:Design — A play based on the correspondence between Charles Darwin and Harvard botanist, Asa Gray

Thursday, February 14 at 7:00pm
Saturday, February 16 at 2:00pm
MIT Museum at 265 Massachusetts Avenue

A theatrical production written by Craig Baxter and produced by the Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University in Great Britain. This one act play is based on Darwin's correspondence with his close friend Asa Gray, an American botanist at Harvard. The Atlantic Ocean between them, Darwin and Gray worked to reconcile orthodox Christian beliefs with Darwin's emerging theory of evolution by natural selection. We enter their minds and worlds as — in their own words — they debate the great issues of science and religion, war, and slavery, but also share news of personal tragedies and triumphs, holidays and gardening. The play raises crucial questions about the implications of Darwin's theory of evolution for religious ideas of creation and design. Each performance will be followed by a discussion moderated by MIT Museum Director John Durant and Harvard Darwin scholar Professor Janet Browne.

To watch the video of the production, go to this link.

Co-sponsored with the MIT Museum

Darwinism and Intelligent Design:
A Dinner and Discussion

Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 6:30-8:15 pm
Building W11 – Main Dining Room

Darwin's contemporaries struggled to reconcile the theory of evolution by natural selection with religious faith. Today, many people still struggle with the same issue. What have we learned about the relationship between Darwinism and 'Intelligent Design' in the century and a half since the first publication of the Origin of Species? This discussion will provide a context for the staging of 'Re:Design', a play based on the correspondence between Charles Darwin and Harvard botanist Asa Gray, at the MIT Museum on February 14th and February 16.

Presenter & discussion leader: John Durant, Director of MIT Museum

Religion and Violence: Untangling the Roots of Conflict: national, interfaith theological conference

Religion and Violence: Untangling the Roots of Conflict is a national, interfaith theological conference coming January 21-23, 2008. Keynote speakers James Carroll, James Cone, Tariq Ramadan, Susannah Heschel, and Katharine Jefferts Schori will each address the theme from conference headquarters at Trinity Wall Street, and on-site small group discussion will allow for reflection, deepened learning, and relationship building. Technology and Culture Forum will be hosting the Boston gathering, which will be at MIT. Continuing education credits are available for professional clergy and lay leaders who participate. The event is free, but registration is required.

January 21-23, 2008
32-144 (Stata Center)

Co-sponsored with the Addir Interfaith Fellowship and the Chaplain to the Institute

Massachusetts Global Warming Action

(MCAN) Conference
Sunday, November 18

Please go to: http://www.massclimateaction.org/meetings.htm for updated conference information.

Advancements in Underwater Vehicles: Responding to Current Environmental Issues

Wednesday, November 14
6:00pm at the MIT Museum

MIT Sea Grant Research Engineer Jim Morash talks about recent advances in underwater vehicles, and how new technologies are aiding research in areas such as the health of coral reefs and post storm event water quality. This program is part of the MIT Museum's Soapbox Series. Co-sponsored with the MIT Museum.

Free Screening of SICKO: A film by Michael Moore

Friday, November 9
7:00pm and 10:00pm

The November 9th showings of this film are free.  Join us after the 7pm show for a special talk by PROFESSOR DAVID JONES

Co-sponsored with the MIT Lecture Series Committee and the Large Events Fund.

Making Health Policy in Massachusetts: An Insider's Perspective

JONATHAN GRUBER, Professor of Economics, MIT
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
MIT Museum

Lebanon's Political Gridlock

Professor of Anthropology and International Relations
Boston University

Tuesday, October 30
4:30-6:30 p.m.
E51-095 (70 Memorial Drive)

Professor Norton is a faculty member of both International Relations and Anthropology. His current research interests focus on strategies of reform in authoritarian regimes of the Middle-East. 

Co-sponsored by the Bustani Middle East Seminar and the Center for International Studies

Doctors Without Borders Week @ MIT and Harvard

Monday, October 29-Sunday, November 4
A series of events featuring the work of the international humanitarian group, Doctors without Borders. The week's programs are being organized by Doctors without Borders Week @ MIT and Harvard .

Please visit their website for a complete listing of events. On Monday and Tuesday, October 29 and 30th, please visit the information booth in Lobby 10 from 10am-3:30pm.

Doctors without Borders presents Dr. Hansel Otero.
Tuesday, October 30 from 6:00-7:30
Location 32-123 (Stata Kirsch Auditorium)

Dr. Otero is a 2002 Venezuelan graduated physician. After working in rural Venezuela for one year, he volunteered with the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders for 18 months. There he became interested in health economics after being part of the implementation team for several health programs in Africa. He came to the USA in 2005 to pursue management training at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliated hospital of Harvard Medical School.

This program is co-sponsored with the MIT Public Service Program.


Wednesday, October 17
Location 10-250 from 7:00-9:00pm

>> Listen to this program


Ben Mezrich, Independent Journalist - author of the New York Times bestseller Bringing Down The House: The True Story of Six M.I.T. Kids Who Took Vegas for Millions (soon to be a major motion picture, 21, starring Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne), and the upcoming Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil

Dr. Natasha Schüll, MIT - Associate Professor, Program on Science, Technology, and Society, MIT; author of Machine Life: Control and Compulsion in Las Vegas (published by Princeton University Press in 2008)

Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack, founder and coordinator of the Computer Addiction Service, McLean Hospital; faculty, Harvard Medical School


Dr. Christopher M. Kelty, Visiting Assistant Professor of The History of Science, Harvard University

How do casino gamblers devise systems for beating the odds, and how do gambling industry designers engineer chance to make the odds unbeatable? How does a technological interface change the experience of gambling? Is screen-based gambling about risk or escape?

Come hear Ben Mezrich describe how MIT students “brought down the house” playing live blackjack in Las Vegas. Natasha Schüll will show how gamblers are brought down by the house through the design of electronic gambling machines. Maressa Hecht Orzack will talk about her experience treating online gaming and gambling addiction. Join us for this engaging discussion on the culture of gambling in America and the ways that new technologies are changing it.

The Dignity of Difference

Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth
Tuesday, October 16
Wong Auditorium 4:30pm-6:00

Co-sponsored by the Chaplain to the Institute, Addir Fellows: MIT Interfaith Dialogue and MIT Hillel

Jonathan Sacks is widely recognised as one of the world's leading contemporary exponents of Judaism. In his talk, Sir Jonathan Sacks will discuss how the tragedy of 9/11 intensified the danger caused by religious differences around the world. As the politics of identity begin to replace the politics of ideology, can religion, Sacks asks, become a force for peace? His is a radical proposal for reconciling hatreds. Sacks argues that we must do more than search for values common to all faiths; we must also reframe the way we see our differences.

>> Watch this talk on MITWorld

6th Annual International Development Fair

Friday, October 5
1:00-3:00pm in Lobby 13
Please check this site during the summer for updated information.

A Genius For Change, and The Passion to Do It: MIT Students and International Development

Wednesday October 10,
6:00pm at the MIT Museum

Join us for a fascinating and inspirational evening of discussion and presentations by MIT students engaged in international work. Hosted by MIT's own MacArthur Genius, Amy Smith,  and MIT Museum Director, John Durant, as part of the MIT Museum's Soapbox Series. Co-sponsored with the MIT Museum Please check this website in the Fall for additional details.

Financing Islamic Terrorism

Tuesday, September 18
E51-345 4:30-6:00

Dr. Ibrahim Warde, Contributor, Le Monde Diplomatique in Paris; author of The Price of Fear: The Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror; and Visiting Professor, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

Co-sponsored with the Emile Bustani Middle East Seminar and the Center for International Studies

Where Morals Come From (and why it matters)

Watch it on MITWorld

September 20
Time: 5:30 - 7:00pm - Reception to follow
Wong Auditorium

Beatriz Luna, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dept. of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh

John Mikhail, Associate Professor, Law Center and Philosophy Department,  Georgetown University

Patrick Byrne, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College

Christopher Moore, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Whitehead Institute