Collective Action

Climate Change: Ethics in Action, the large forum that Radius co-hosted on November 17th, has provided a robust launch for further action at MIT. We've received many emails following the program and the subsequent article published in The Tech on November 22.

After the event, many students commented on the depth of the discussion and were particularly impressed with Professor Susan Silbey's critique of "the university". Emma Bingham, in her Tech article, writes, "Silbey asserted that universities have “played a too-large role in creating” the climate crisis. Universities, she claimed, teach an individualistic social theory, explaining what happens “in terms of individual minds.” She argued that universities should instead teach theory of collective action."

Practicing "collective action" is not an ideal that is encouraged in our society at large but we, as a community, can encourage and develop this practice. During the forum, Kerry Emanual referenced the 2016 MIT senior survey: 24% of respondents said that "working for social and political change" was not important to them at all and 37% said that "participating in politics or community affairs" was not important to them. He also stated that MIT was falling short in educating undergraduates about climate change.

We would like to press further: MIT needs to be doing more to develop—in all students—a sense of responsibility to the greater good. MIT states that its mission is to "best serve the nation and the world". No one can do that alone. It will take all of us--working collectively.

Watch the video of the November 17th event here.

 

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