How did MIT become MIT? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology marks the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2011. Over the years, MIT has lived by its motto, “Mens et Manus” (“Mind and Hand”), dedicating itself to the pursuit of knowledge and its application to real-world problems. MIT has produced leading scholars in fields ranging from aeronautics to economics, invented entire academic disciplines, and transformed ideas into market-ready devices. This book examines a series of turning points, crucial decisions that helped define MIT. Many of these issues have relevance today: the moral implications of defense contracts, the optimal balance between government funding and private investment, and the right combination of basic science, engineering, and humanistic scholarship in the curriculum.
Chapters describe the educational vison and fund-raising acumen of founder William Barton Rogers (MIT was among the earliest recipients of land grant funding); MIT’s relationship with Harvard--its rival, doppelgänger, and, for a brief moment, degree-conferring partner; the battle between pure science and industrial sponsorship in the early twentieth century; MIT’s rapid expansion during World War II because of defense work and military training courses; the conflict between Cold War gadgetry and the humanities; protests over defense contracts at the height of the Vietnam War; the uproar in the local community over the perceived riskiness of recombinant DNA research; and the measures taken to reverse years of institutionalized discrimination against women scientists.
Rooted in the British apprenticeship system, the French Beaux-Arts, and the German polytechnical schools, architecture education in North America has had a unique history spanning almost three hundred years. Although architects in the United States and Canada began to identify themselves as professionals by the late eighteenth century, it was not until nearly a century later that North American universities began to offer formal architectural training; the first program was established at MIT in 1865. Today most architects receive their training within an academic setting that draws on the humanities, fine arts, applied science, and public service for its philosophy and methodology. This book, published in conjunction with the centennial of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), provides the first comprehensive history of North American architecture education.
Architecture School opens with six chronological essays, each devoted to a major period of development: before 1860; 1860–1920; 1920–1940; 1940–1968; 1968–1990; and 1990 to the present. This overview is followed by a “lexicon” containing shorter articles on more than two dozen topics that have figured centrally in architecture education’s history, from competitions and design pedagogy to research, structures, studio culture, and travel.
Today, computers are part of kids’ everyday lives, used both for play and for learning. We envy children’s natural affinity for computers, the ease with which they click in and out of digital worlds. Thirty years ago, however, the computer belonged almost exclusively to business, the military, and academia. In Engineering Play, Mizuko Ito describes the transformation of the computer from a tool associated with adults and work to one linked to children, learning, and play. Ito gives an account of a pivotal period in the 1980s and 1990s, which saw the rise of a new category of consumer software designed specifically for elementary school–aged children. “Edutainment” software sought to blend various educational philosophies with interactive gaming and entertainment, and included such titles as Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, KidPix, and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?.
The children’s software boom (and the bust that followed), says Ito, can be seen as a microcosm of the negotiations surrounding new technology, children, and education. The story she tells is both a testimonial to the transformative power of innovation and a cautionary tale about its limitations.
When two or more languages are part of a child's world, we are presented with a rich opportunity to learn something about language in general and about how the mind works. In this book, Norbert Francis examines the development of bilingual proficiency and the different kinds of competence that come together in making up its component parts. In particular, he explores problems of language ability when children use two languages for tasks related to schooling, especially in learning how to read and write. He considers both broader research issues and findings from an ongoing investigation of child bilingualism in an indigenous language–speaking community in Mexico. This special sociolinguistic context allows for a unique perspective on some of the central themes of bilingualism research today, including the distinction between competence and proficiency, modularity, and the Poverty of Stimulus problem.
Francis proposes that competence (knowledge) should be considered as an integral component of proficiency (ability) rather than something separate and apart, arguing that this approach allows for a more inclusive assessment of research findings from diverse fields of study. The bilingual indigenous language project illustrates how the concepts of modularity and the competence-proficiency distinction in particular might be applied to problems of language learning and literacy.
Few investigations of indigenous language and culture approach bilingual research problems from a cognitive science perspective. By suggesting connections to broader cognitive and linguistic issues, Francis points the way to further research along these lines.
In his fourteen years as president of MIT, Charles Vest worked continuously to realize his vision of rebuilding America's trust in science and technology. In a time when the federal government dramatically reduced its funding of academic research programs and industry shifted its R&D resources into the short-term product-development process, Vest called for new partnerships with business and government. He called for universities to meet the intellectual challenges posed by the innovation-driven, globally connected needs of industry even as he reaffirmed basic academic values and the continuing need for longer-term scientific inquiry.
In Pursuing the Endless Frontier, Vest addresses these and other issues in a series of essays written during his tenure as president of MIT. He discusses the research university's need to shift to a broader, more international outlook, the value of diversity in the academic community, the greater leadership role for faculty outside the classroom, and the boundless opportunity of new scientific and technological developments even when coupled with financial constraints. In the provocative essay "What We Don't Know," Vest reminds us of what he calls "the most critical point of all," that science is driven by a deep human need to understand nature, to answer the "big questions"—that what we don't know is more important than what we do. In another essay, on the future of MIT, he celebrates MIT's strengths as being extraordinarily well-suited to the needs of an era of unprecedented change in science and technology. In "Disturbing the Educational Universe: Universities in the Digital Age—Dinosaurs or Prometheans," he describes MIT's innovative OpenCourseWare initiative, which builds on the fundamental nature of the Internet as an enabling and liberating technology.
Vest, who is stepping down from MIT's presidency in the fall of 2004, writes with clarity and insight about the issues facing academic institutions in the twenty-first century. His essays in Pursuing the Endless Frontier offer inspiration to educators and researchers seeking the way forward.
New technology has brought with it new tools for learning, and research has shown that the educational potential of video games resonates with scholars, teachers, and students alike. In Augmented Learning, Eric Klopfer describes the largely untapped potential of mobile learning games--games played on such handheld devices as cell phones, Game Boys, and Sony PSPs--to make a substantial impact on learning. Examining mobile games from both educational and gaming perspectives, Klopfer argues that the strengths of the mobile platform--its portability, context sensitivity, connectivity, and ubiquity--make it ideal for learning games in elementary, secondary, university, and lifelong education. Klopfer begins by exploring the past and present of education, educational technology, “edutainment,” and mobile games, and then offers a series of case studies of mobile educational games that have been developed and implemented in recent years. These games--either participatory (which require interaction with other players) or augmented reality (which augment the real world with virtual information)--can be produced at lower cost than PC or full-size console games. They use social dynamics and real-world context to enhance game play, they can be integrated into the natural flow of instruction more easily than their big-screen counterparts, and they can create compelling educational and engaging environments for learners. They are especially well-suited for helping learners at every level develop twenty-first century skills--including the ability to tackle complex problems and acquire information in “just-in-time” fashion. All of this, Klopfer argues, puts mobile learning games in a unique and powerful position within educational technology. Eric Klopfer is Associate Professor of Education at MIT, Director of MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program (TEP), with a joint appointment at the MIT Media Lab. [title from author 7/25/07]
When Jay Keyser arrived at MIT in 1977 to head the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, he writes, he "felt like a fish that had been introduced to water for the first time." At MIT, a colleague grabbed him by the lapels to discuss dark matter; Noam Chomsky called him "boss" (double SOB spelled backward?); and engaging in conflict resolution made him feel like "a marriage counselor trying to reconcile a union between a Jehovah’s witness and a vampire." In Mens et Mania, Keyser recounts his academic and administrative adventures during a career of more than thirty years. Keyser describes the administrative side of his MIT life, not only as department head but also as Associate Provost and Special Assistant to the Chancellor. Keyser had to run a department ("budgets were like horoscopes") andn egotiate student grievances—from the legality of showing Deep Throat in a dormitory to the uproar caused by the arrests of students for antiapartheid demonstrations. Keyser also describes a visiting Japanese delegation horrified by the disrepair of the linguistics department offices (Chomsky tells them "Our motto is: Physically shabby. Intellectually first class."); convincing a student not to jump off the roof of the Green Building; and recent attempts to look at MIT through a corporate lens. And he explains the special faculty-student bond at MIT: the faculty sees the students as themselves thirty years earlier. Keyser observes that MIT is hard to get into and even harder to leave, for faculty as well as for students. Writing about retirement, Keyser quotes the song Groucho Marx sang in Animal Crackers as he was leaving a party—"Hello, I must be going." Students famously say "Tech is hell." Keyser says,"It’s been a helluva party." This entertaining and thought-provoking memoir will make readers glad that Keyser hasn’t quite left.
Allen Ginsberg once declared that “the best teaching is done in bed,” but most university administrators would presumably disagree. Many universities prohibit romantic relationships between faculty members and students, and professors who transgress are usually out of a job. In Romance in the Ivory Tower, Paul Abramson takes aim at university policies that forbid relationships between faculty members and students. He argues provocatively that the issue of faculty-student romances transcends the seemingly trivial matter of who sleeps with whom and engages our fundamental constitutional rights. By what authority, Abramson asks, did the university become the arbiter of romantic etiquette among consenting adults? Do we, as consenting adults, have a constitutional right to make intimate choices as long as they do not cause harm? Abramson contends that we do, and bases this claim on two arguments. He suggests that the Ninth Amendment (which states that the Constitution’s enumeration of certain rights should not be construed to deny others) protects the “right to romance.” And, more provocatively, he argues that the “right to romance” is a fundamental right of conscience--as are freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Campus romances happen. The important question is not whether they should be encouraged or prohibited but whether the choice to engage in such a relationship should be protected or precluded. Abramson argues ringingly that our freedom to make choices--to worship, make a political speech, or fall in love--is fundamental. Rules forbidding faculty-student romances are not only unconstitutional but set dangerous precedents for further intrusion into rights of privacy and conscience.Paul R. Abramson is Professor of Psychology at UCLA. He is the author or coauthor of many books, including Sarah: A Sexual Biography, With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality (with Steve Pinkerton), and Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness (with Steve Pinkerton and Mark Huppin).
MIT was founded in 1861 as a polytechnic institute in Boston's Back Bay, overshadowed by its neighbor across the Charles River, Harvard University. Harvard offered a classical education to young men ofAmerica's ruling class; the early MIT trained men (and a few women) from all parts of society as engineers for the nation's burgeoning industries. Over theyears, MIT expanded its mission and ventured into other fields—pure science, social science, the humanities—and established itself in Cambridge as Harvard's enduring rival. In A Widening Sphere, Philip Alexander traces MIT's evolution from polytechnic to major research institution through the lives of its first nine presidents, exploring how the ideas, outlook, approach, and personality of each shaped the school’s intellectual and social cultures. Alexander describes, among otherthings, the political skill and entrepreneurial spirit of founder and first president, William Rogers; institutional growing pains under John Runkle; Francis Walker's campaign to broaden the curriculum, especially in the social sciences, and to recruit first-rate faculty; James Crafts, whose heart lay in research, not administration; Henry Pritchett's thwarted effort to merge with Harvard (after which he decamped to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching); Richard Maclaurin's successful strategy to move the institute to Cambridge, after considering other sites (including a golfclub in Brighton); the brilliant, progressive Ernest Nichols, who succumbed to chronic illness and barely held office; Samuel Stratton's push towards a global perspective; and Karl Compton’s vision for a new kind of Institute—a university polarized around science and technology. Through these interlocking yet independent portraits, Alexander reveals the inner workings of a complex and dynamic community of innovators.
Much attention has been paid to the increasing proportion of non-tenure-track faculty--adjuncts, lecturers, and others--in American higher education. Critics charge that universities exploit “contingent faculty” and graduate students, engaging in a type of bait and switch to attract applicants (advertising institutional standing based on distinguished faculty who seldom teach undergraduates), and as a result provide undergraduates with an inadequate educational experience. This book, by two experienced academic administrators, investigates the expanding role of part-time and non-tenure-track instructors in ten elite research universities and the consequences of this trend for the quality of the educational experience, the functioning of the university, and the excellence of the academic environment. The authors discover, to their surprise, that the existing data on the workforce in higher education is ambiguous (different institutions use different terms for non-tenure track instructors; some even omit them from faculty data reports), making comparisons suspect. Many academic administrators are unaware of the tenured/nontenured breakdown of their own faculties and the hiring practices of their own universities. The authors look closely at the teaching workforce at Berkeley, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Washington, Cornell, Duke, MIT, Northwestern, and Washington University, believing that these outstanding universities provide a strong test case of resistance to pressures on the traditional tenure system. They describe hiring trends and what drives them, explain why they matter if we want to improve undergraduate education, support collegiality on campus, trust in academic governance, prevent the erosion of tenure, and preserve America’s global leadership in higher education.