The following courses have been selected to help you explore Social Sciences at MIT.
Description:This course provides an introduction to the study of human behavior, with topics ranging from how we see to why we fall in love, using a complete series of entertaining audio lectures and lecture notes. Topics covered include nature vs. nurture, free will, human differences, self and society, and exposure to biological, evolutionary, cognitive, and psychoanalytic perspectives of psychology.
Description:Fundamentals of Public Policy is an introductory course that explores policy-making as both a problem-solving process and a political process. It looks at policy-making from the perspective of different focal actors and institutions. Students examine the interplay between policy development and institutions, and review normative and empirical models of policy-making. They address questions including: How and why does something come to be seen as a "public problem" requiring a governmental response, while others fail to get attention? Why do we need public policies? What determines the content and nature of public policies?
Description:This course introduces students to the work of the Supreme Court and to the main outlines of American constitutional law, with an emphasis on the development of American ideas about civil rights. The goal of the course is to provide students with a framework for understanding the major constitutional controversies of the present day through a reading of landmark Supreme Court cases and the public debates they have generated. The principal topics are civil liberties in wartime, race relations, privacy rights, and the law of criminal procedure.
Description:This course is an introduction to the cross-cultural study of bio-medical ethics. It examines moral foundations of the science and practice of western bio-medicine through case studies of abortion, contraception, cloning, organ transplantation, and other issues. It also evaluates challenges that new medical technologies pose to the practice and availability of medical services around the globe, and to cross-cultural ideas of kinship and personhood. It discusses critiques of the bio-medical tradition from anthropological, feminist, legal, religious, and cross-cultural theorists.
Description:This course introduces the history of Islamic cultures through their most vibrant material signs: the religious architecture that spans fourteen centuries and three continents — Asia, Africa, and Europe. Islamic architecture is presented both as a historical tradition and as a cultural catalyst that influenced and was influenced by the civilizations with which it came in contact.
Description:This class introduces students to the methods and perspectives of cultural anthropology. Readings emphasize case studies in very different settings (a nuclear weapons laboratory, a cattle-herding society of the Sudan, and a Jewish elder center in Los Angeles). Although some of the results and conclusions of anthropology will be discussed, emphasis will be on appreciating cultural difference and its implications, studying cultures and societies through long-term fieldwork, and most of all, learning to think analytically about other people's lives and our own.
Description:The course has two main goals: First, to give you a sense of what philosophers think about and why. This will be done through consideration of some perennial philosophical problems, e.g., the existence of God, reason and faith, personal identity and immortality, freewill, moral responsibility, and standards for moral conduct. The course draws on readings by important figures in the history of philosophy as well as contemporary authors. The second goal is to develop your philosophical skills, and your critical and argumentative skills more generally.
Description:This course will focus on issues that arise in contemporary public debate concerning matters of social justice. Topics will likely include: euthanasia, gay marriage, racism and racial profiling, free speech, hunger and global inequality. Students will be exposed to multiple points of view on the topics and will be given guidance in analyzing the moral frameworks informing opposing positions. The goal will be to provide the basis for respectful and informed discussion of matters of common moral concern.
Description:The causes and prevention of interstate war are the central topics of this course. The course goal is to discover and assess the means to prevent or control war. The topics covered include 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. The historical cases covered include World War I, World War II, Korea, Indochina, and the Peloponnesian, Crimean and Seven Years wars.
Description:This seminar is designed to help students develop the writing, speaking, teamwork, and interpersonal communication skills necessary for managers. Students learn communication principles, strategies, and methods through discussions, exercises, examples, and cases. Assignments include writing memos and business letters, and giving oral presentations in labs outside of class. A major project is the production of a team report and presentation on a topic of interest to a managerial audience.