of the Division of Humanities and the
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
|Deborah K. Fitzgerald
||Acting Dean, 2006; Dean, 2007-
the administration of President Karl Taylor Compton (1930-1949)
work was done to improve the status of humanities and social sciences
at MIT. On 9 March 1932 the MIT Corporation adopted a new plan of
administration, creating three schools (Engineering, Science, and
Architecture) and two divisions including the Division of Humanities.
The Division of Humanities differed from the schools in that it
offered no programs leading to degrees. Aside from academic instruction
in the fields of English, history, economics, and language, the
division was also "...responsible for instruction in such fields
as sociology, labor relations, government, international relations,
law, philosophy, psychology, literature, music, and fine arts for
both undergraduate and graduate students." The Department of Economics
and Statistics, the Department of English and History, and the Department
of Modern Languages were brought into the Division of Humanities
in 1932. The division also had supervisory responsibilities for
some extracurricular activities, such as drama, music, and museum
exhibits. The administrative head of the division, originally to
be called the director, but actually called the dean, reported to
the vice president and the president.
the first dean, Edwin S. Burdell, was appointed in 1937, the duties
of the director were divided among the deans of the three schools.
Dean Robert Granville Caldwell was appointed in 1938, and in 1944
a four-year program of required courses in the humanities and social
sciences for undergraduates was adopted by the faculty.
Committee on Educational Survey, also
known as the Lewis Committee, whose report was published in 1949,
called for the establishment of a School of Humanities which could
grant degrees. The School of Humanities and Social Studies was established
in December 1950 with John Ely Burchard as the first dean. The Center
for International Studies was founded and placed within the School
in  as an extra-departmental organization.
psychology and political science sections were established in the
Department of Economics and Social Science in 1951 and 1956 respectively.
In 1954 a Department of Humanities was created within the school.
The new department incorporated the Department of English and History
and other areas of related academic interest.
1955, Course XXI was begun so that students could major in humanities
or social sciences in combination with science or engineering. The
students received the degree of bachelor of science without specification
of a science or engineering department.
1959 the name of the school was changed to School of Humanities
and Social Science (SHSS). Graduate programs in political science
(1958), philosophy (1963), psychology (1960), and linguistics (1961)
were developed in addition to the well-established graduate program
in economics. The early 1960s saw the establishment of philosophy
(1961), music (1961), history (1960), and literature (1962) sections
within the Department of Humanities.
Robert Lyle Bishop was appointed in 1964. The same year, the psychology
section became a department. In 1965 the Department of Economics
and Social Science (Course XIV) was terminated, and economics and
political science achieved separate departmental status. Economics
remained Course XIV while political science became Course XVII.
Also in 1965 the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics
superseded the Department of Modern Languages, and was in turn superseded
in 1969 by the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics.
In 1967 the undergraduate major in humanities was added. By 1968
the SHSS consisted of five departments (Humanities, Economics, Political
Science, Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Psychology) and one
research center (the Center for International Studies).
1971 the Commission on MIT Education began reevaluation of both
the general structure and the specific content of the General Institute
Requirements in the humanities and social sciences. In October 1971
Dean Bishop appointed a subcommittee of the School Council to examine
various plans for revision of the core curriculum in humanities
and social science.
Harold John Hanham was appointed in 1973. During his tenure the
SHSS stated its mission as comprising three elements: to provide
highly developed graduate programs in economics, linguistics, philosophy,
political science, and psychology; to enable students to satisfy
MIT's humanities requirement (viewed by the SHSS as a general education
requirement); and to maintain undergraduate subject majors in economics,
philosophy, political science, humanities, and science and engineering.
In 1973 the Technology Studies Program was developed to relate the
humanities more directly to science and engineering.
1974 the freshman and sophomore core program was abolished,and a
new form of the Institute requirement was approved, now titled the
Institute Requirement in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
(HASS), designed to specify the distribution and concentration of
subjects taken in the humanities. Under the HASS requirement students
had to take at least three subjects in three separate fields from
a list of humanistically oriented distribution subjects, at least
three of which would be taken in a given field in order to achieve
some degree of depth in that field. The requirement was administered
by a faculty committee composed of members from all schools at the
Institute (previously the humanities requirements had been administered
solely by humanities faculty). The new Institute Requirement, which
came into full operation in academic year 1975-1976, led to a greater
range of choice for freshmen and sophomores.
1975 the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics was discontinued
as a separate course (Course XXIII), and the subjects of foreign
languages and literatures and linguistics became part of the humanities
department. In 1976 the Department of Philosophy was combined with
linguistics to form the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
(Course XXIV). A new undergraduate program called Language and Mind
was established within Course XXIV. That same year, cross-registration
and cross-teaching between the SHSS and Wellesley College language
1977 the Technology Studies Program joined forces with the newly
founded Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Ann Fetter
Friedlaender was appointed dean in 1984. During her tenure, the
Women's Studies Program was founded (1984), the Department of Psychology
formally left the SHSS (1985) to become a part of Brain and Cognitive
Sciences, and the Statistics Center moved to the SHSS from the School
of Science (1986).
1985-1986 an Institute-wide committee chaired by Professor Pauline
Maier (history) recommended a new HASS-D (distribution) requirement
and the restructuring of the current Hum-D requirement. The new
HASS-D requirement, approved by the MIT faculty in 1987 and implemented
over three years beginning in 1988-1989, was developed to ensure
that students receive a broad and cohesive exposure to the humanities,
arts, and social sciences. These goals were to be accomplished by
imposing more structure on the distribution component of the HASS
requirement and substantially reducing the number of subjects offered.
Shukry Khoury became acting dean as of 1 July 1990 and was appointed
dean in 1991, in which capacity he continued until 1 July 2006, when he became associate provost.
1 July 2000 the name of the school changed from the School of Humanities
and Social Science to the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social
Sciences to recognize more fully the breadth and contributions of
the arts at the Institute.
Deborah K. Fitzgerald, associate dean of the school, became interim dean as of 1 July 2006, and was named dean in January 2007.
by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries
December 1995; updated September 2000, August 2006, January 2007