Learning Communities News - 2013

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  • Concourse: A Community

    As one of the four freshman learning communities at MIT, Concourse provides a guiding environment for first year students: highly sought after one-on-one guidance, small classroom sizes, and a strong sense of community. It is often referred to as a “school within a school,” built on a foundation of peers, advisors, and professors.

    The 40-year old program focuses on the integration of humanities into MIT’s traditional science- and technology-based curriculum, teaching students that most technical courses have a mutually beneficial interaction with the humanities and social sciences. While still fulfilling their MIT core requirements, students have the opportunity to reflect and search for deeper meanings as they shape their futures. Anne McCants, Director of Concourse, emphasizes the importance of this approach, “I think that to be truly educated, and to fulfill our real potential as scholars, it is not enough to know many things, or to be able to do many things, valuable as that may be.  We actually have to know what those things are good for (how they nourish life and well-being), and it is the humanistic disciplines that school us for those questions.”

    Why do students choose Concourse?

    Concourse Friday SeminarEach year, Concourse selects 40-50 students to participate in the program. “With limited space it is important to select freshman who will thrive in the learning community’s environment,” says Concourse advisor Paula Cogliano. Students are incoming freshman with an interest in incorporating a humanities framework to their MIT education. They are also students who prefer the benefits of smaller class sizes and building relationships with others in the Concourse community.

  • Editor's note: Bennett Cyphers is a freshman from Plattsburgh, N.Y. who has taken two Terrascope classes, 12.000 and 1.016. He is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and enjoys ruminating on the problems of the world.

    Sixty people sit in a room. They come from a variety of backgrounds, and few of them know each other. As they watch in silence, a professor in the front of the room lays out their task for the next three months: it will require intense research, a myriad of disciplines, creativity, effective teamwork — and if they are to be successful — a staggering amount of effort. This is no strategic meeting of industry experts, nor is it a graduate or post-graduate seminar. This is 12.000, Solving Complex Problems, and every student seated in the auditorium is a first-semester freshman at MIT.