Concourse Exploration Pilot

Concourse Requirements for Fall 2019/2020

All Concourse students will

  1. register for a Concourse Humanities subject, CC.110 or 21L.010, and at least one additional Concourse class: CC.801, CC.1802, and/or CC.5111,
  2. participate in the weekly Concourse lunch seminars from 12-2 pm on Friday afternoons. Each seminar has a short reading assignment and pre-seminar response due on Thursday evening.
  3. complete the Concourse Exploration Requirement, described below.**

***

**First Year Exploration and Reflection

A core part of the Concourse mission is intellectual exploration and reflection. This year, we have carved out additional space in the Concourse curriculum for each student to take advantage of exploration opportunities across campus and beyond.

MIT offers a range of opportunities that allow you to sample different disciplines at their most inspiring and cutting edge, including departmental seminars, visiting lectures, and arts and theater events. These kinds of events take place every day at and around MIT, but many students do not discover them until late in their undergraduate careers, if at all.
By taking advantage of these rich opportunities in your first semester, we hope you will establish a habit of supplementing what you learn in the classroom with what you find outside of it. We look forward to hearing about what you discover on those occasions when you set homework aside temporarily to engage in a different type of learning.

Logistical Details

Each student will select and attend at least four (4) exploration events over the course of the Fall semester, including:

  • one on-campus event,
  • one off-campus event,
  • one departmental seminar, and
  • one additional event of your choice.

Recording and sharing your experiences

Within a day or so of each event, you should fill out a short form providing information and brief feedback on the experience. This will only take a few minutes, and the form can be found here.

In addition, two of our Friday seminars will be dedicated to sharing exploration experiences. This first of these will be on Friday, November 8th. That seminar will begin with a “lightning round” of sharing, in which each of you will have one minute to reflect on one of your exploration events by addressing a reflection question provided on page 2. Lunch will be moved to the second half of seminar to provide an opportunity to follow up with peers on topics that interest you. Another sharing opportunity will happen during seminar on Friday, December 6th, and we will communicate the format for that seminar at a later date.

***

Guidelines for a meaningful experience at MIT and off-campus events

There are a few guidelines you can follow to get the most from a seminar or performance. Most importantly, you should do a little research before the event. This could simply mean looking at a lab website or at a Wikipedia page for a speaker. For an art exhibit, you could a read an article or information from the museum or a curator’s website. Having a little context as you go into a lecture or performance can profoundly impact what you learn from the experience.

Some people find it useful to have a notebook dedicated to seminars and lectures. During a seminar, you may find it helpful to jot down notes and questions. Many speakers particularly appreciate questions from students, and we encourage you to participate in question-answer sessions. In some disciplines, it is common to preface your question by first thanking the speaker for their talk. Feel free to spread this practice to other disciplines by your example!

For any event, on- or off-campus, we trust you will be outstanding representatives of Concourse. This includes being respectful by arriving on time and by keeping your phones silent and out of sight. If you are taking notes on a laptop or tablet, please make sure that email and all other applications are closed at all times. We also encourage you to experience the different mental process engendered by taking notes longhand if you have rarely done it!

Reflection Questions

Questions to consider as and after you attend a seminar or performance:

  • What did you expect going into this event? How does that compare to what you experienced?
  • What new questions do you have?
  • If the event was in a discipline related to one of your classes, how did the content or approach differ from or reinforce what you are learning in class?
  • Was the event inspiring? depressing? confusing? What made it so?
  • What is something about the experience that was meaningful for you?
  • Are you hoping to attend more seminars, performances, etc. in this field? Why or why not?

***

Finding events
MIT has a (non-comprehensive) events calendar (https://calendar.mit.edu), and most departments maintain their own calendars with seminars and events. A partial list of links to selected departmental calendars is provided here. In addition, we have compiled a list of events recommended by the Concourse Staff. Throughout the fall semester, staff will announce opportunities for coffee outings or meals before or after certain events.

Scheduling note
For each Concourse class, we have removed the equivalent of one week of out-of-class work over the course of the semester. In addition, we have adjusted assignment schedules so that the week of Nov. 4th is assignment free for all CC classes (meaning no papers, exams, or psets are due, but pre-class reading and reviewing notes are still expected). We hope that providing this extra time will make it easier for you to get to events, and that once you get in the habit of attending seminars and events, you will make time to do the same in future semesters!