Many applicants and incoming freshman have concerns about whether MIT will provide them with a well-rounded education. Will they graduate from MIT knowing about math and science and nothing else? Would attending a liberal arts college provide more opportunities for learning about the humanities? My response is if they want to spend four years studying 18th century English literature exclusively, then the Institvte is probably not a good fit for them. But, if they would like to take classes in Major English Novels (21L.471 ), Eighteenth-Century Literature (21L.470), and The Legacy of England (21L.420), then they are available!
Another traditional duty of universities is to expose their students to world events and ensure that their graduates are well-informed citizens. Along these lines, I attended an event called: “A Conversation with Noam Chomsky- No More Victims.” I bet you have heard of Noam Chomsky before, seeing as how he is an MIT professor and an expert in both linguistics and politics. I first heard about him in high school, and then learned about his contributions to the field of linguistics in my Intro to Linguistics class (24.900). He’s absolutely brilliant, and I have tried to attend his talks whenever possible (though honestly I’ve found some of them hard to follow…)
This particular talk was sponsored by NoMoreVictims.org, which “works to obtain medical sponsorships for war-injured Iraqi children and to forge ties between the children, their families and communities in the United States. We believe one of the most effective means of combating militarism is to focus on direct relief to its victims.” Present at the lecture was a boy named Omar and his father. You can click on the link to watch videos about his story. It’s really tragic, and the fact that we don’t hear about stories like his in the mainstream media is a lesson in itself.
Chomsky spoke about the current situation in Iraq, the Imperialist mindset that still prevails, the world’s perception of the U.S., and the consequences of U.S. intervention. He also answered the audience’s questions, including his thoughts on the current presidential candidates (to negotiate or not to negotiate?), whether the 9/11 conspiracy theories have any clout (he didn’t think so), and whether the “You break it, you buy it” principle holds for the U.S. intervention in Iraq (he responded by asking whether the Nazis should have stayed in Britain.) Finally, he frequently referred to this article which is in the current issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. It discusses the consequences of the surge in Iraq, and is very interesting.
Whether or not you agree with Chomksy and NoMoreVictims.org, events like this demonstrate that there is more to MIT than just math and science.