Since the moment I arrived at MIT, I have been inspired by this community’s constant capacity for inventive change: the same familiar MIT spirit producing endless new wonders. In the spring of 2016, we launched a new public effort to build support for our students, staff, postdocs, and faculty as they pursued their aspirations to make a better world.
From the impacts of climate change to our national struggle over economic inequality and racial injustice, the five years since have included a range of intensifying societal challenges; the global pandemic imposed the latest painful test. And yet—in areas ranging from discovery to invention, planning to policy, management to music—to a remarkable extent the people of MIT have continued their creative exploration undeterred. Indeed, in many ways, this tumultuous time has brought new energy and purpose.
In this issue of Spectrum, you will see that MIT spirit at work in a host of ways, each inspired by our signature willingness to leap boundaries and explore the borderlands between disciplines in pursuit of new answers and positive impact.
Thanks to the uncommon talent, effort, and aspirations of our people—our core strength—MIT remains a magnificent human machine for inventing the future. It has never been more obvious that the Institute’s ability to push past the known, the conventional, the ordinary depends on the engagement, support, and encouragement of the great global family of MIT.
In the Campaign for Better World, a remarkable 112,703 MIT graduates, parents, and friends answered the call, raising $6.24 billion in support of MIT’s mission. Yet we know that vital needs persist, from building support for graduate fellowships to funding breakthrough technologies to help decarbonize the economy.
For one feature in this issue, we asked a range of students and faculty how, with the support of the Campaign, they are helping to create a more positive future for all. Their answers capture the distinctive vitality and vision of MIT. It’s a force the world needs now more than ever.
L. Rafael Reif