MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Integrated Studies Program (ISP) offers a curriculum for first-year students built around the study of a variety of technologies practiced in different cultures and historical periods. ISP promotes a form of education that seeks to show students the connections among ideas and processes in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Hands-on learning is emphasized as a complement to the theoretical work that is a typical component of the first-year curriculum. ISP strives to provide students the academic and social foundation for success at MIT and beyond by creating a community devoted to team approaches to design and problem solving, inquiry, enhanced communication skills, and life-long learning.

The fall and spring HASS-D subjects that form the core of the ISP curriculum focused on technologies ranging from time keeping devices, food production and preparation, and blacksmithing (fall) to weaving, textile dyeing, and engine design (spring) within a variety of cultural contexts. Professor Arthur Steinberg and Dr. Peter Dourmashkin held primary responsibility for these subjects during the past year, with Frederica Steinberg coordinating the integrated writing component. ISP continued to modify approaches within existing modules to improve students' competencies in all modes of communication, and in working as part of a team to develop and promote an idea. In fall, students analyzed how common objects work in a new unit focused on design. In spring, student teams wrote and presented business plans for construction of textile mills in the mid-nineteenth century Merrimack Valley.

Workshops connected to the humanities subjects allowed students the opportunity to practice all the technologies studied. Guest presenters included Toby Bashaw, blacksmith, Debbie Watson, weaver and dyer, and Dr. Ed Franquemont, anthropologist and specialist on Incan weaving.

ISP continues to focus attention on developing a strong writing curriculum under the leadership of Ms. Steinberg. Beginning with spring semester, ISP has received provisional approval to offer credit for Phase I of the Writing Requirement to students earning an acceptable grade in the written component of the humanities subjects.

ISP hosted a weekly luncheon for freshmen with speakers from MIT and the greater community speaking about their work.

Students attended lectures in math and science subjects with the rest of the freshman class, but were able to choose ISP-sponsored recitations in some subjects.

A highlight of the year was ISP's move from building 20 to refurbished quarters on the first floor of building 16. Students returned from spring break to new facilities that included faculty and staff offices, classroom, kitchen, computer lab, and lounge.

ISP welcomed the return of Marshall Hughes as part-time support for the program.

33 students (20 male; 13 female) enrolled in fall. 37 students (26 male; 11 female) enrolled in spring.

ISP is overseen by Arthur Steinberg, Director, and Debra Aczel, Program Administrator.

More information about the Integrated Studies Program can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Arthur Steinberg

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98