DUE Strategic Themes Budget Helps Students Turn Ideas into Reality

By Amy Clark, Administrative Assistant, DUE

The core philosophy of DUE can be found in the six strategic themes of global education, diversity, innovative teaching and learning, holistic experiences in education, information technology and areas associated with the MIT Undergraduate Task Force on education. But these are just words until they are put into action. The DUE has budgeted funds with the intent of helping undergraduates pursue their dreams in ways that turn those words in real experiences.

Sr. Associate Dean Elizabeth Reed is in charge of a small discretionary fund that has been allocated for this purpose. Students can request funding for their projects through her or her assistant, Amy Clark. Once an application is made, Dean Reed considers the merits of the project in terms of how well it meets one or more goals of the strategic themes, how many students will benefit from the experience, and how broadly the project will reach the MIT community and/or the world at large.

In 2007-2008, fourteen student-related projects were supported. These ranged from on-campus events to global research and development projects. Here are some examples:

With help from DUE, nine students attended the World Model UN convention in Mexico City. Through the Model UN society at MIT, student members research, discuss and debate global issues and as well as develop solutions to global problems. The goal of the MIT Model UN is to foster interest in international affairs across the campus and broader community through an annual lecture series, participation in the Boston Model UN with local high school students, and by serving as delegates to the World Model UN.

Two students at MIT formed the Massachusetts Academic Games League of America and trained local high school students for the national competition. MAGLOA is an organization dedicated to developing the character, integrity and intellectual acumen of high school students through preparation for statewide and national competitions. Bao Tran, a sophomore in Urban Studies and Planning, and Renaldo Webb, a sophomore in Physics, coached students from a Boston area high school and joined them for the Olympics-like 2008 national competition in Orlando, FL.

Anne Liu, a senior Biology major, and others organized The Global Poverty Initiative conference at MIT with John Edwards as the keynote speaker. This all-day event brought together members of the MIT and the broader community to explore health, education, economic, technological and public policy issues relating to global poverty. Through speakers, educational sessions, and a multimedia awareness campaign, the organizers helped students and others learn about ways they can fight global poverty.

With lower respiratory infections from cooking smoke being a major cause of mortality in the developing world, a team of MIT students is developing a smokeless stove unit. One member will travel to India to field test the stove and gather information on the stove’s viability.

Tish Scolnik is developing a project in Tanzania to enable wheelchair users to run small-businesses from their chairs that she has custom-designed for this purpose. This endeavor is a follow up to the Leveraged Freedom Chair project she participated in and which won an IDEAS prize in 2008.

Please refer interested students to The Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education at (617) 253-6056 for an application.