MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXII No. 1
September / October 2009
Altering the Culture of MIT
Turmoil at Student Support Services
Communicating Across the Curriculum
Testing our Capacity to Govern, Change,
and Be True to our Values
Student Support Services: The Way Forward
MISTI Matches Students with International Work and Research Opportunities
iHouse: An International
Living-Learning Community
OpenCourseWare: Working Through
Financial Challenges
Balancing the Equities
MIT Fourth in Latest U.S. News Poll
New CUP Subcommittee to Implement
HASS Distribution Reform
New Course Catalog for 2009-2010
A Realistic Way to Deal with Global Warming
What Goes Around Comes Around: H1N1 and Extended Outage Planning Viewed Through the Lens of the Blizzard of ’78
Death of UCLA Researcher
Heightens Lab Safety Awareness
Tech Talk Ceases Publication: MIT News Office Launches New Website
UPOP Positions Students
for Professional Success
Teachng this fall? You should know . . .
Undergraduate College Rankings
Printable Version

New CUP Subcommittee to Implement
HASS Distribution Reform

Jeffrey S. Ravel

At its meeting on May 20, the Institute faculty voted to simplify the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement, one of the General Institute Requirements (GIRs) for all MIT undergraduates. The faculty motion mandates a change in the distribution component of the Requirement from the current five-category distribution to one that consists of one subject each from three categories – humanities, arts, and social sciences. The faculty vote specifies that the change to the Distribution Requirement must be implemented no later than fall 2011, and preferably by Fall 2010.

Important aspects of the HASS Requirement remain the same: students must complete eight HASS subjects, three to four of which must form a concentration in a HASS discipline. The HASS Requirement will continue to overlap with another GIR, the Communication Requirement, because all MIT undergraduates must complete two CI-H subjects that also count towards the eight-subject HASS requirement prior to graduation.

In the same vote, the faculty approved the creation of a new subcommittee of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) to oversee the HASS Requirement. The subcommittee will focus this year on the reform of the HASS Distribution Requirement. It will also monitor the ongoing efforts to create a program focused on first-year undergraduates, known as the First Year Focus Program. The May 20 faculty motion calls for the CUP to recommend to the faculty no later than AY 2014-2015 whether all students should be required to take one First Year Focus subject in partial fulfillment of the HASS Requirement.

The newly formed CUP subcommittee will work closely with groups across MIT to consider the implications of the new HASS Distribution Requirement. The fall 2010 implementation goal imposes a strict timeline on these efforts.

To facilitate its work, the subcommittee has asked all departments and sections that teach subjects with HASS-D and HASS-E designations to provide a preliminary classification of these subjects into the three new distribution categories. The departments have also been asked to submit a rationale for their classification schemes. The subcommittee will determine the official distribution designation of each HASS subject after carefully reviewing department and section input.

In addition to classification, the subcommittee will also recommend which students should be subject to the new HASS distribution categories beginning in fall 2010. The subcommittee is considering whether to make the new HASS Distribution Requirement retroactive for undergraduates who entered MIT prior to fall 2010. If students who entered the Institute prior to fall 2010 are not subject to the new rules, the Institute will need to keep a robust roster of current HASS-D subjects on offer for several more years.

More information on the subcommittee’s work will be available by the end of the fall semester. All comments and questions can be directed to me as the subcommittee chair.

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