Our_aims - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The concept of an educational "commons" recalls an earlier time in New England's history, when land that was jointly owned or used by the residents of a community, such as a village green, was known as the commons.
At MIT, the educational commons is the shared knowledge, resources, aspirations, and values that constitute the core of an MIT education. As graduates discover, it also is the foundation of a lifetime of learning.
But what does it mean to be an educated person in the 21st century, in a world increasingly shaped by scientific and technological advances and the global currents they have set in motion?
The outline of MIT's answer began to emerge in October 2006, when the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons, a committee composed of two dozen faculty members and undergraduates, completed its three-year review of MIT's undergraduate educational program.
Addressing the core requirements that each undergraduate must fulfill, the task force called for the most far-reaching changes to MIT's undergraduate curriculum in the past half-century. One key recommendation was for a new and more flexible science, math, and engineering requirement. Another was for a more clearly articulated grounding in the study of culture and society.
A defining feature of the report is the attention given to tapping students' creativity during their first year at MIT. If the recommendations are adopted, incoming students will have more opportunities to engage in active and project-based learning. New science and engineering classes will focus on creative design projects that motivate the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge, the integration of multiple modes of inquiry, and team building. In the humanities, arts, and social sciences, a similar approach will animate first-year courses exploring critical human issues such as democracy, the nature of the self, wealth and poverty, and war and revolution.
Equally exciting is the recognition of international experience as an essential component of undergraduate education. The task force urged that MIT make it possible, within five years, for all undergraduates to undertake a meaningful period of study, work, or internship abroad without financial or academic penalty.
Further refinement of these recommendations by the faculty is expected in 2007, with final approval and implementation to extend over the next few years.
Long the leader in science and technology-centered education, MIT's directions in curriculum renewal and reform will continue to be watched and emulated by colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.
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