During the spring of 2011, a series of symposia designed and developed by teams of MIT faculty explored issues and topics of interest to MIT’s community of scholars, students, and staff.
Each symposium focused on large, synthetic questions, crossed multiple schools and departments, and undertook to be a significant, watershed moment in the intellectual history of its subject. The six symposia in no way covered the full range of research and activity on campus. Rather, as select examples, they epitomized the crossdisciplinary nature of MIT: economics and finance; integrative cancer research; women’s leadership in science and engineering; the age of computation; exploration of earth, air, ocean, and space; and brains, minds, and machines.
We honored our past and imagined the future of MIT, its research, and its people. All symposia in the series were open to the public, taking place in Kresge Auditorium.
This symposium celebrated the role of MIT's faculty and students in advancing the fields of economics and finance, in putting the latest developments into practice, and in contributing to the design of public policy.
A series of six panels, which included Nobel laureates, policy makers, and academic and industry experts, addressed three broad questions:
As our faculty and students begin to chart the next course in cancer research, we celebrate the unique role they have played in its history and illustrated how and why MIT researchers are converging their disciplines to conquer cancer.
A series of moderated panel discussions — including top biologists, leading clinical experts, technologists, and biomedical engineers — engaged the audience in exploration of three topics:
This symposium engaged present students and postdocs, junior and senior faculty, alumni, and friends of MIT, and was woven around the landmark 1996 and 1999 reports of the Faculty Committees on Women in Science and their subsequent impact inside and beyond MIT. The symposium had plenary sessions of talks by outstanding women faculty. In addition, there were sessions giving a historical and current assessment of women in science and engineering, including the impact of the 1999 report. Two panel discussions addressed effective practices for promoting gender equity and challenges ahead.
Computation and the Transformation of Practically Everything traced the evolution of the information age and celebrate MIT's role in it. The event brought together early and recent pioneers from a variety of fields to review the role computation has played in the past and present and to explore frontiers that lie ahead.
The symposium on exploration discussed key questions for humans who embark on journeys of exploration where there is remarkable potential for discovery. When it comes to exploring earth, air, ocean and space, MIT’s contributions have shaped the 20th century. Great inventors and explorers such as MIT’s own Doolittle, Draper, and Edgerton contributed breakthrough technologies and instrumentation along with personal exploration and piloting feats. These inventors, engineers, scientists, and artists literally put us on the Moon and let us ‘see the unseen’.
This symposium was inspired by the old dream of understanding the mind and the brain, which was at the core of several new fields created at MIT during the ‘50s and ‘60s. The same dream is now the main motivation for a new Intelligence Initiative (I2). Beyond being a great intellectual mission, this research helps to develop an understanding of the origins of intelligence, build more intelligent artifacts and systems, and improve the mechanisms for collective decisions. These advances will be critical to the future prosperity, education, health, and security of our society.