You can change the world!

Submit your idea to MIT Solve

Maybe it’s an idea that’s been rattling around your head or maybe you’re about to have an epiphany that can dramatically improve the lives of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.

Now is your chance to make your idea become a reality.

Solve, an initiative of MIT, has launched three new challenges on its open innovation platform and is seeking submissions which could be pitched at the United Nations on March 7th.

Aimed at developing and implementing solutions to major global issues, the current Solve challenges seek innovative solutions that address: 

  • Refugee Education: How can we improve learning outcomes for refugee and displaced young people under 24? Click here to view the challenge.
  • Carbon Contributions: How can individuals and corporations manage and reduce their carbon contributions? Click here to view the challenge.
  • Chronic Diseases: How can we help people prevent, detect and manage chronic diseases, especially in resources-limited settings? Click here to view the challenge.

Challenges are active and open for applications until January 20, 2017. Anyone with innovative ideas and a passion for finding affordable, far-reaching, and implementable solutions is encouraged to apply.

You can find out more information about MIT Solve at http://solve.mit.edu/

Understanding What’s Happened and Is Happening in The Middle East

In 2012, hundreds of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo to protest the verdicts in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. (Image courtesy of Lorenz Khazaleh on Flickr. Available CC BY-NC-SA.)

In 2012, hundreds of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo to protest the verdicts in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. (Image courtesy of Lorenz Khazaleh on Flickr. Available CC BY-NC-SA.)

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

The region known as the Middle East has been in upheaval for decades now, and trying to gain understanding and perspective on its complexities can be both difficult and daunting. The region includes many countries, with long histories, rich cultures, and varied interests.  There are many different points of view on what’s been happening there and why. How do you make sense of it all?

A great way to start is by reading. But what should you read? There are countless books and articles on the Middle East, not all of them accurate, and many of them tendentious. How can you know what you’re getting into?

There is no better place to start than a reading list curated by an MIT instructor who has spent years studying and assessing key publications. Each one of the many OCW courses on the Middle East has a reading list, sorted into different topics.

Here is a sampler of courses with reading lists that might pique your interest:

 

“. . . a historical introduction to the Middle East in the late Ottoman period and the eve of imperialism at the beginning of the Twentieth century after World War I . . . the establishment of nation-states in the Middle East . . . the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict  . . .  the rise of political Islam and the Iranian Revolution . . . the debates regarding Islam and democracy, and Islam post 9/11 . . . the 2011 revolts in the Arab world . . . today’s realities in the Middle East.”

 

“The first half discusses the Ottoman Empire by exploring how this multiethnic, polyglot empire survived for several relatively peaceful centuries and what happened when its formula for existence was challenged by politics based on mono-ethnic states. The second half of the course focuses on post-Ottoman nation-states, such as Turkey and Egypt, and Western-mandated Arab states, such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Finally, the course concludes with a case analysis of Israel.”

 

“ . . . The sixth section applies the course theories and methods to the Arab Spring and current conflict in Mali.”

 

“ . . . the dilemmas, misperceptions, crimes and blunders that caused wars of the past; the origins of these and other war-causes; the possible causes of wars of the future; and possible means to prevent such wars, including short-term policy steps and more utopian schemes.” Sessions 22 – 23 discuss the Israel-Arab conflict and the 2003 US-Iraq war.

 

“. . . ideational, institutional and material foundations of the state of Israel; Israeli national identity, Israeli society, economy, and foreign and security policies.”

 

“How do Islam and media technologies relate? What kinds of practices of inscription and transmission characterize Islam in all its varieties across time and place? How might Islamic thought and practice be understood in light of databases, networks, and audiovisual sensation?“

 

“[This course’s] aim is to examine why non-state actors (such as warlords, terrorists, militias, etc.) resort to violence, what means and tactics they use, and what can be done to counter that violence.”

Traveling 65mph on the world’s tallest water slide

a87178bf-ec24-4b18-8d01-4bca7d1ad756

View from the top of Verrückt, the world’s tallest waterslide. (Image courtesy of Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts. Used with permission.)

By Cheryl Siegel

You’ve climbed 246 stairs, and now you’re strapped to a raft 168 feet above the ground. You are about to begin your ride on the tallest, steepest, and fastest waterslide in the world. Verrückt—which means “insane” in German–opened to the public July 2014 at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City. The initial descent is essentially a free-fall—almost a straight drop from 15 stories, in which the raft then accelerates to 65 mph.

The course takes advantage of the relationship between gravity and friction to ensure the rafts remain on the slide. By conducting extensive tests with both sandbags and humans, the ride’s engineers were able to ensure that Verrückt would be safe for all, though they do impose a weight limit of 550 pounds per raft.

To learn more about gravity, friction, velocity and acceleration, please visit OCW’s introductory physics course, 8.01L Physics I: Classical Mechanics. The unit called “Kinematics: Describing 1D Motion, Relative Velocity,” explains the concepts of position, velocity, and acceleration.

Making sense of the violence in the US

March from the White House to the Capitol. Image by Susan Melkisethian

March from the White House to the Capitol. Image by Susan Melkisethian

Our hearts ache from the violence that has taken place this month. The shooting deaths of Alton SterlingPhilando Castilefive police officers in Dallas and three police officers in Baton Rouge fill families, friends, communities, and a country with deep sorrow.

It’s almost impossible to make sense of this violence but in these tragedies, it’s clear that fear, racism against Black Americans, the police, and guns played important roles.

However, any understanding or solution begins with education. Education can profoundly change belief systems, shift perceptions, and reduce ignorance and hate.

With the hope of gaining knowledge to enact positive change, here are some resources that offer some understanding of underlying causes surrounding these horrific events, and perhaps ways we can better communicate and connect with each other for the better.

Understanding current events

21H.319 Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law – The readings of this course offer insight into the key issues in the historical development and current state of modern American criminal justice, with an emphasis on its relationship to citizenship, nationhood, and race/ethnicity.

24.236 Topics in Social Theory and Practice: Race and Racism – lecture notes delve into the questions “How should we understand racial injustice? Does racial injustice continue to exist? If so, what steps might legitimately be taken to end it?”

24.02 Moral Problems and the Good Life – the Racism, sexism and speech section surface questions about the the cultural and economic structures that may reinforce sexism and racism.

17.922 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. IAP Design Seminar – students develop in-depth understanding of the history of US racial issues as well as past and present domestic and international political struggles.

21M.630J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies – explores the experiences of people of African descent through the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing. The course also has a good reading list.

Other resources

Black Lives Matter –  an online forum intended to build connections between Black people and Black allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue among Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement.

I, Racist – text from a sermon that John Metta, a Black writer and poet, gave as a congregational reflection to an all White audience.

Changing the world and yourself for the better

CMS.615 Games for Social Change – workshop to design and prototype games for social change and civic engagement.

Letter from President Reif to the MIT community – reflecting on the importance of “leading civic institutions have a responsibility to speak clearly against these corrosive forces and to act practically to inspire and create positive change.”

17.905 Forms of Political Participation: Old and New – examines the associations and networks that connect us to one another and structure our social and political interactions.

CMS.361 Networked Social Movements: Media & Mobilization – a seminar that examines the relationship between social movements and the media and how resources and awareness can be mobilized.

11.948 Power of Place: Media Technology, Youth, and City Design and Development – workshop that explores the potential of information technology and the Internet to transform public education, city design, and community development in inner-city neighborhoods.

21G.019 Communicating Across Cultures – course that helps you become more sensitive to intercultural communication differences, and to provide you with the knowledge and skills that will help you interact successfully with people from cultures other than your own.

Other resources

The Science of Happiness – an edX course that focuses on how happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social connections and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good.

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change – an edX course that helps you learn the values, techniques, and themes social workers use to help others as well as strategies for addressing social justice challenges.

[Updated July 20 after police officers killed in Baton Rouge LA]

When the Student Becomes the Teacher

Image courtesy of uoeducation on Flickr. License: CC: BY-NC

Image courtesy of uoeducation on Flickr. License: CC: BY-NC

By Cheryl Siegel

When you think of students at a university, you might imagine them taking classes, doing homework, participating in sports or maybe working at the school newspaper.  But did you know that at MIT, students can also teach their own classes?

Through the Educational Studies Program at MIT, students have the opportunity to teach courses to high schoolers and middle schoolers on a wide variety of topics – some serious, some not so much –  including the history of heavy metal, probability, and medical device design.

On Highlights for High School, we have captured a few of these student-run classes.

Biology

Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience

Humanities and Social Science

Gödel, Escher, Bach

Europe in Crisis

Leadership Training Institute

Mathematics

Combinatorics: The Fine Art of Counting

Probability: Random Isn’t So Random

Physics

The Big Questions

Excitatory Topics in Physics

Another 7 reasons to donate to OCW now!

Here are another seven reasons you should donate to OCW.

 

1. There are more than 2,300 FREE courses on OCW.

 

khart  via GIPHY

 

2. You never have to find something new to learn – it’s all on OCW.

 

iknowright.gif  via GIPHY

 

3. You used OCW when you took an edX/MOOC/distance learning course.

 

computer  via GIPHY

 

4. You’ve been meaning to, but haven’t found the time (so PLEASE do it now).

 

notallday   via GIPHY

 

5. You can brag to your friends, you’re an MIT donor!

 

awesome  via GIPHY

 

6. Your brother donated and you want to give more than he did.

 

brother   via GIPHY

 

7. You are a believer in STEAM education for all (remember, it’s FREE).

 

minion  via GIPHY

 

So please support OCW and donate now. We truly appreciate it!

7 more reasons to donate to OCW now

Here are seven more reasons you should donate to OCW (if you haven’t already).

1. You can learn ANYTHING you want, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. (You can’t register even if you wanted to.)

 

anytime  via GIPHY

2. Did we mention you NEVER have to pay a cent to use OCW??

 

bigbangno  via GIPHY

 

3. You are one of the 60,000 people who visit OCW every day.

 

ryan  via GIPHY

 

4. You, too, believe that OCW can help reverse inequality.

 

reverse  via GIPHY

 

5. It’s easy!  Click here and find out!

 

easy  via GIPHY

 

6. You always wanted to be one of the ‘cool’ kids.

 

cool  via GIPHY

 

7. You join MIT in its own philanthropy of sharing education with the world.

 

heart  via GIPHY

 

So go on ahead, donate now. (Thanks! )