Following the success of the MISTI Career Conversations: Energy lecture series in 2020, MISTI launched a 3-credit course—SP.257 MISTI Career Connections Energy—for the fall 2021 semester. The course was taught by MISTI program staff Nureen Das (MIT-India, South Asia) and Madeline Smith (MIT-Denmark). It was designed to give students interested in the energy sector an opportunity to engage with leaders and mentors from the field and explore related career paths. In addition to company representatives from MISTI’s global network, students also heard from MIT alumni about the importance of an international mindset when considering the future energy landscape. Lourdes Melgar Palacios, PhD ’92, and a 2016 Robert E Wilhelm Fellow at CIS, was among the alumni who spoke. She offered advice for working in the renewable energy sector and encouraged the students to persevere in their studies. She also shared about her own struggles while studying for her PhD at MIT. Melgar’s concluding advice was for the students to pursue their passions and to lean into the alumni network and MISTI.
This year’s SSP Military Fellows presented multiple talks on technical, doctrinal, and strategic developments from within the US Armed Forces during MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP). The fellows program represents a unique opportunity for both scholars and practitioners of international security to produce policy-relevant research and academic programming. With representation from the four largest military service branches, the fellows serve as an essential resource for the SSP community and beyond.
The Center's Human Rights and Technology Fellowship program is thrilled to announce that seven students, including one two-person team, were awarded fellowships. The program supports students’ research, participation in a working group, and other activities. It is intended to produce new knowledge about the relationship (both good and bad) between human rights and technology. This year’s awardees include: Neil Gaikwad, PhD student in the Media Lab, will work on equitable design framework of humanitarian AI for sustainability and global inclusion; Eyal Hanfling, PhD student in Political Science, will work on social media as a tool for witnessing and documenting discrimination in South Asia. Anisha Gade and Wonyoung So, both PhD students in DUSP, will work on tenant screening in public housing and housing vouching programs; Ambar Reyes-Lopez, graduate student in the Media Lab, will explore live streaming and crowded-source media production concerning how Latina-American migrants document, produce and distribute information in times of crisis in NYC; Agrawal Surbhi, graduate student in DUSP, will work on a value-based approach for urban digitization; and Mona Vijaykumar, graduate student in DUSP, will explore technology as a double edged sword.
Each semester the Center, together with the MIT Security Studies Program, and the MISTI MIT-Russia Program, presents the Focus on Russia speaker series. The talks explore a number of current issues in Russian domestic and foreign policies. Recent events, which were co-branded as Starr Forums, included, “The Russian-Ukrainian conflict,” with Dmitry Gorenburg (Harvard University) Olga Oliker (International Crisis Group) Serhii Plokhii (Harvard) Carol Saivetz (MIT) Elizabeth Wood (MIT); “The future of US-Russian relations,” with Barry Posen (MIT) and Dmitri Trenin (Carnegie Moscow Center); and “Navalny: Putin’s nemesis, Russia’s future?” with Morvan Lallouet (University of Kent) and Ben Noble (University College London). Focus on Russia is co-chaired by MIT's Carol Saivetz and Elizabeth Wood. The Starr Forum series also included multiple other talks on pressing global issues.
The Center, along with Brown’s Watson Institute; and Harvard’s Weatherhead Center and its South Asia Institute offers the South Asian Politics seminars each semester. Recent talks include: “How do gender quotas impact accountability?” with Zuheir Desai (EI University); “Vaccinating India against Covid: Lessons from history,” with Harish Naraindas (Jawaharlal Nehru University); “The past and future of India-China relations,” featuring Vijay Gokhale (Carnegie India), Shivshankar Menon (Ashoka University), Kanti Prasad Bajpai (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), and Vipin Narang (MIT); and “Political misinformation in India: Evidence from experimental solutions,” with Sumitra Badrinathan (University of Oxford).
Each semester the Bustani Seminar invites scholars, journalists, consultants, and other experts from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States to present recent research findings on contemporary politics, society, and culture, and economic and technological development in the Middle East. Recent talks included: “The US and Middle East: What went wrong?” with Steven Simon (MIT); “Gaza: Reflections on decades of research,” with Sara Roy (Harvard); and “Greed, graft and gridlock: The political economy of Lebanon's financial collapse,” with Christophe Abi-Nassif (Middle East Institute).
SSP Wednesday Seminars
The Security Studies Program seminar series featured weekly talks on campus for the MIT community and virtually on YouTube for the public, including: "Strategies of restraint and US foreign policy, " with Emma Ashford (Atlantic Council); "Then what? Assessing the strategic implications of Chinese control of Taiwan," with Arturo C Sotomayor (George Washington University); "US military innovation for the digital age," with Carla Norrlöf (University of Toronto); "The drivers of Chinese foreign policy," with Erica De Bruin (Hamilton College); and "The United States’ dangerous lead nation obsession," with Paul Musgrave (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).