A new living and learning community will open in New House in the fall to undergraduates. iHouse, a way to "bridge living and learning at MIT," according to Professor of Urban Planning Bishwapriya Sanyal, who is involved as a faculty member, will open in New House 1, which used to be the home of the now defunct Russian House. There will be 21 residents.
Sanyal said that the purpose of iHouse is to focus on international development and to "create a student at MIT who will see themselves as a citizen of the world … who cares about issues not bounded by territories."
In the dormitory, the planners are hoping to bring in faculty to discuss international issues, show movies about development, and think about how to solve problems, Sanyal said.
For current undergraduates interested in living in iHouse, a housing request must be submitted by tomorrow at http://web.mit.edu/housing/undergrad/application.html.
iHouse will be linked to the D-Lab international development course, with D-Lab lecturer Amy B. Smith residing in the house.
Because of its link to academic programs, iHouse "meets all the requirements of a cultural house without being a cultural house," Harris said.
"MIT is a very international place," Sanyal said. "International is nothing new … the goal is to create a setting of living and learning that will sustain a constant engagement with international issues."
Initially, the house was intended to be a cultural house to celebrate internationalism, "but after discussion with the housemasters we decided to focus on international development," said Raja H. R. Bobbili '07, a resident of New House 1 who said iHouse was his idea.
Bobbili said he conceived the idea in Spring 2005 when Russian House was "disengaged." According to Bobbili, the initial idea was to call the house "global village," but the house voted and chose to call it "international house." At that time, about half of the residents of New House 1 were from outside the United States, Bobbili said.
Bobbili said that implementation has taken two years because the planners were waiting on the committee on cultural houses to finish its report before going further.
Bobbili explained that iHouse will be defined as a "living and learning community," not as a "cultural house."
Bobbili said that the current students in New House 1 who are not interested in iHouse have already started moving out of the house.
Some of the assets of iHouse, according to a series of "iHouse agreements" sent out by Sally Susnowitz, director of the Public Service Center, include $40,000 in PSC funding for iHouse residents' international development projects, four research spots in D-Lab for iHouse residents, dinners and study breaks featuring international cuisine and guests, and assistance with project needs.
In return, iHouse residents are expected to complete five requirements during their residency. This includes completing at least one class related to international development, involvement in an international development project, and participating in the planning of one international development event on campus, the agreements continue.
iHouse fits into President Susan Hockfield's "vision of global leadership," Harris said. "It's the right thing to do at the right time."
Harris said that New House 1 has already begun having seminars in which students who have done international development projects speak to residents of the house.
Bobbili said he believes in the sustainability of iHouse because of the house mission. "The students will be involved in projects on international development, working in teams to accomplish something that we believe they will be passionate about," Bobbili said. "The interest that they have, combined with the resources that PSC and [the International Development Initiative] will make available to them, should sustain the mission of the house." Bobbili said that iHouse has a $50,000 grant from 484 Phi Alpha foundation.
iHouse will have space for 21 students, according to Harris. "We now have 12 of the spaces filled and we want to get three or four more upperclassmen." Harris said that there would be space for about five freshmen from the Class of 2011 and that "we have a big campaign coming up."