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Letters to the Editor

HASS Expands Imagination


My thanks to Peter A. Shulman G for taking the time to write his profoundly interesting essay on education at MIT (Sept. 22, in response to the opinion piece by Justin Wong, Sept. 19) and to The Tech for being willing to print it.

As one who teaches in SHASS, I hope that by the time each student graduates, he will have learned things undreamed of when applying to MIT. I also hope that every MIT student constructs and continually reconstructs his own temple of learning, in the Killian Courtyard of his mind’s eye, complete with a list of names to be inscribed along the perimeter. Whether or not the list includes, say, poets, composers, filmmakers, historians, sociologists, linguists, or economists is secondary. What is primary is the ability to “model” great lives, works, and imaginations. And the truth is, such imaginative and evaluative acts (reaching for the stars) are what the world of SHASS can teach, best of all the schools at MIT.

The rest is trying to figure out how to do this while satisfying the GIRs! A nifty feat, for those who manage it. In that regard, we should all take hard looks at the current set of requirements, to see how well they help students toward such goals.

Martin Marks

Senior Lecturer in Musical and Theater Arts

Yet Another Interdepartmental Lab?


I was pleased to read Friday that the Institute is finally planning to move on energy (again). However, I must admit to being consternated by the call for the creation of Yet Another Interdepartmental Laboratory. The Insitute is already home to the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, itself finally an established name which was only recently created through the merger of the Energy Laboratory and the Center for Environmental Initiatives. I don’t presume to be privy to all of the details the committee was, but it is not at all clear why this initiative should require the establishment of another lab when there is an extant, respected alternative.

The only reasoning given in the report is, “The desire for a clear focus on energy coupled with the need for a number of attributes not found in LFEE, e.g., control of core central space, leads us to conclude that a new organization is needed at MIT.” (p.38) Nothing is said about the feasibility of additional support of LFEE to address the non-specific perceived shortcomings.

Jerrad D. Pierce ’05