An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Better World Tour Gathers 700 Bay Area Alums and Friends to Talk Education

  • Nicole Estvanik Taylor
  • Slice of MIT

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“Learning is not something you do for four years. Learning is something you do forever.” Sanjay E. Sarma, MIT’s vice president for open learning, delivered these words earlier this month to crowds in San Francisco and Palo Alto who had gathered not only to celebrate the strength of MIT’s community during the MIT Campaign for a Better World, but—fittingly—to share knowledge. Both events, which were attended by more than 700 alumni and guests, showcased Institute leaders, faculty, alumni, and students who are advancing the science of teaching and learning in areas ranging from neuroscience to online education.

“I graduated from MIT more than 40 years ago, and I’ve seen it continually invent and discover and then shower the world with gifts,” Mark Gorenberg ’76 said in his welcoming remarks in San Francisco. Many of these gifts have come in the form of new approaches to teaching and learning, even though, as faculty speaker Eric Klopfer noted, the Institute does not have a school of education. “We also don’t have a cancer school or an energy school,” pointed out Klopfer, who is a leader of several cross-Institute groups, including the Scheller Teacher Education Program, the Education Arcade, the pK-12 Initiative, and the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab. “We see problems such as these as interdisciplinary challenges that require diverse expertise.”

Other speakers at the two evenings represented the range of that expertise, including chancellor for academic advancement Eric Grimson PhD ’80, whose intro computer science course on MITx has enrolled 1.2 million online learners; Shuja Keen ’99, president of the MIT Club of Northern California, who in addition to his professional pursuits is founding board member of the educational nonprofit Spark Academy; and Jenna Hong ’19, an undergraduate doing research at the intersection of computing and cognitive science.

On March 19 and 21, similar gatherings in San Diego and Los Angeles will bring together alumni further south in California to explore another topic central to the Better World campaign: how the MIT community is working to address global challenges in the areas of environment, energy, and sustainability. Learn more and get involved at betterworld.mit.edu/engage.

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