Concourse History

Concourse began in 1970 as an experimental project initiated by Professors Louis Bucciarelli and David Oliver of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and sponsored by the Commission on MIT Education. The original purpose of the program, reflected in the name, was to establish a program where the humanities and sciences could flow in ‘concourse’, and to create a new opportunity for faculty in the humanities, sciences and engineering to work together and establish a cooperative curriculum.  The founding staff members came from a variety of academic disciplines. From science and engineering were Ronald Bruno, Louis Bucciarelli, Duncan Foley, Martin Horowitz, Daniel Kemp, David Oliver, and Brian Schwartz. The Humanities were represented by Nancy Dworsky and Travis Merritt.  In 1971, Concourse received academic and budgetary approval, and enrolled its first class of 35 freshmen (i.e., class of 1975). Jeffrey Hankoff, Adrian Houtsma, Karl Linn, and Robert Silbey joined the staff.

Past directors include David Adler, Jerome “Jerry” Lettvin, and Robert M. Rose. Cheryl Butters was the program administrator from 1975 until her retirement from MIT at the end of January 2011.

Since 2009, new leadership at Concourse has been gradually returning its curriculum to its interdisciplinary roots. The humanities component has been reinvigorated with a foundational Fall course which addresses the “fundamental questions”: CC.110 Becoming Human: Ancient Greek Perspectives on the Best Life. Almost all first year students in Concourse take this CI-H HASS course. The courses are linked by a Friday lunch and seminar series that is also required of all first year Concourse students.

In 2011 Concourse was awarded the Irwin Sizer Award for the most significant contribution to MIT education.