MIT Day of Action

At grass-roots Day of Action event, MIT students, faculty, and others tackle political, economic, and social challenges with civic engagement.

More than 1,000 participants came together at MIT on Tuesday, April 18, to discuss approaches to and solutions for a broad range of political, economic, and social challenges. The Day of Action/Day of Engagement—organized by a network of faculty and students from across the campus—covered a diverse range of topics including: the possibility of nuclear war; the ambiguous fate of truth in modern media; climate change; growing wealth disparity; polarization of political discourse; inequalities in education and economic opportunity; criminal justice reform; immigration; and many more. 

“Now, more than at any time in my memory, people are asking, ‘What can I do?’” says Roger Levy, an associate professor of brain and cognition sciences and one of the lead organizers. “For so many MIT students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and local community members to devote a day of their lives to address the political, social, and economic challenges of today, provides a visceral answer.  It shows what we can do, together.”

The day featured a diverse range of organizers from across MIT, from student groups to academic powerhouses from the faculty. The goal for the nearly 80 separate sessions, organizers say, was to offer participants the opportunity to deepen knowledge, gaining greater insight into pressing issues of the times as well as reflecting and learning from their own daily behavior, build skills to engage with difficult topics and situations effectively, and take action—doing what MIT does best, innovating to solve problems in the moment. 

The day built upon the successful Princeton University Day of Action held on March 6, 2017, and the historic leadership demonstrated in MIT’s March 4 Movement of 1969.  MIT’s March 4 Movement was championed by MIT graduate students, challenging and opening a discussion about the normative view of science and the role of a scientist in society at the time; that of science in an academic vacuum, without accountability for the real-world applications of innovations and research. The Day of Action represented the diversity of the campus and wider community, driven by commitment to open, respectful dialogue and the exchange of ideas from the widest variety of intellectual, religious, class, cultural, and political perspectives.


Photo Credits:

1.  Photo by: Thais De Marco. Core team of volunteers who worked to make MIT’s Day of Action a reality (pictured, from left to right) Roger Levy, Sally Haslanger, Ceasar McDowell, Sherene Aram, Julio Oyola, Stephanie Toews Moeling, Tse Yang Lim, Patrick Brown, (not pictured) Elise Bickford 

2. Photo by: Thais De Marco. A discussion by MIT faculty, exploring and building upon Noam Chomsky’s essay, The Responsibility of Intellectuals (pictured, from left to right) Junot Díaz, Saida Grundy, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Oreskes, J. Phillip Thompson

3. Photo by: Thais De Marco.  Jessica Myers (DUSP MCP candidate and a leader in the DUSP Students of Color) joins a round table conversation on gentrification and who it disproportionately effects (pictured) Jessica Myers, Sonny Oram

4. Photo by: Thais De Marco. Former dean of Kenan Sahin School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) leads faculty, staff, and students in performing protest songs, both old and contemporary

4. Photo by: Takeo Kuwabara. Amber Houghstow (Harvard Extension School) Adam Hasz (DUSP MCP Candidate and lead organizer for Fossil Free MIT) Quinton Zondervan (Green Cambridge) and Becky Wasserman (Resonant Energy) lead a discussion on how to mobilize the greater Boston area for climate justice and energy democracy (pictured) Amber Houghstow

5. Photo by: Roger Levy. A playful illustration of risk posed by exclusionary immigration policies (pictured, from left to right) Kathryn Grossman, Heather Lechtman, Ceasar McDowell