Evaluating the Relationship Between MIT and the Saudi Monarchy

Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 5:15pm


Nicolas Dumas

PhD Candidate, Political Science, MIT

Sheldon Krimsky

Lenore Stern Professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Tufts University

Sarah Leah Whitson

Executive Director, Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Division

Watch this program. 

A public letter addressed to the MIT Corporation questioning the relationship between MIT and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was created and signed by more than 300 MIT signatories in 2019. The letter begins by stating:  We are members of the MIT community concerned about MIT’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its state-controlled subsidiaries. Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian state with one of the worst human-rights records in the world. Its shameful record is by now familiar from international press coverage: thousands of deaths and millions on the brink of famine in the Yemeni Civil War since 2015; the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul; and the list goes onAn archive of the letter and the signatories is here.

This program explored ethical questions and potential conflicts of interest generated by the recent agreements between the Saudi monarchy and the MIT Administration. This panel was moderated by Professor Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Associate Professor, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. 

The assassination of journalist Jamal Kashoggi and the military  role of the Saudi Monarchy in Yemen call for a thorough examination of this relationship. The forum will include an authority on the Saudi monarchy, Sarah Leah Whiston of Human Rights Watch, and MIT faculty and graduate student panelists addressing questions of whether such relationships conform to MIT's mission and principles. A representative from the Administration has been invited to report on the Administration's examination of the relationships. 

Read Provost Lester's "report" to President Reif on the MIT/Saudi relationship dated December 6, 2018.

Read an editorial by Professor Rajogopal in the most recent edition of the MIT Faculty Newsletter

Read the lead editorial in the most recent edition of the MIT Faculty Newsletter

Read a recent guest editorial/open letter to President Reif  in THE TECH by MIT Graduate Students.

Read the response by President Reif.

Read Associate Provost Richard Lester's letter to the MIT faculty.    

This program is co-sponsored with the MIT Faculty Newsletter.

Read this recent article in The Guardian.