Leaders bring forth change in society, and MIT students and faculty long have been leaders in engineering, science, architecture, and business. Members of the MIT faculty synthesized penicillin, revolutionized the fields of linguistics and economics, affected the course of molecular biology, set the pace on the information highway, and helped lay the groundwork for the development of high-strength materials.
MIT students today are the leaders of tomorrow, the extraordinary young men and women who know the world is a place they have the power not only to influence but to change, and who will move into the next century creating a better nation and world for us all.
With leadership comes responsibility. A leader must set the standard. And in our nation and world, strong, wise, ethical leadership is essential. MIT is now doing much to give young people–who will live and work in a global environment–the values, skills and confidence to become leaders with the highest ethical standards.
In doing so, faculty in the sciences, social sciences, engineering, and the humanities are working together to develop programs that address the cultural, socioeconomic, and political contexts in which science and technology take place, and that assess the human significance of scientific and technological change.
The Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) is one such MIT program that is designed to do just that. STS faculty and students explore how practical, political, artistic, and ethical thought shapes scientific and technological activity, and vice versa.
Another example is the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, which was launched at MIT during this decade and since has moved to Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. The Center exists only in cyberspace, and the purpose of it is to provide engineers, scientists, and science and engineering students with the resources to understand and address ethically significant problems that arise in their work lives.
In addition, MIT’s Technology and Culture Forum is a lecture series that examines the moral and ethical implications of science and technology. For the past 35 years, the forum has been an ongoing, Institute-wide arena for ethical issues to be discussed.
Professor Hal Abelson of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has recently developed a new subject at MIT called Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier. And Literature Professor Alvin Kibel developed the subject Literature, Ethics, and Authority, which he has taught at the Sloan School since 1992. The focus is the ethics of leadership.
And since 1994, hundreds of MIT students have participated in LeaderShape, a leadership program where students set goals, build teams, and solve problems, and where young people learn to clarify their values and make decisions involving tough ethical dilemmas.
MIT’s grounding in the issues and challenges of the practical world requires that we seek not only how to do a thing, but whether and why. We are dedicated to providing our students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse campus community. In so doing, we hope to develop in each of them the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.