The Friday Seminar

Fridays 12:00-2:00 PM (16-128) 

The Concourse Seminar is dedicated to the critical epistemological question of how we can know those things that we think we know.  We will consider what knowledge consists of, how we acquire it, and how we can feel certain enough in it to provide us with a direction forward.  These broad concerns are not all addressed in the same way across the disciplines, as the standard(s) for truth claims can vary considerably depending on the object of one’s inquiry.

Over the course of the year we will hear from a variety of MIT faculty from a range of science, humanities, and social science disciplines, both about foundational questions and about aspects of their own work.  You will have the opportunity to see how different disciplines think: how they frame questions, how they gather evidence, and how they use that evidence to answer their questions.

Spring 2024 seminar schedule

Date Topic
February 9 (Week 1) Discovery, Explanation, Evidence, and Rhetoric
February 16 (Week 2) Handel/Haydn Society
February 23 (Week 3) Prof. Will Broadhead (History): When is a republic no longer a republic?:
On the fall of the Roman Empire
March 1 (Week 4) Debate
March 8 (Week 5) Prof. Tristan Brown (History)
March 17 (Week 6) Hayley Ford (Chemical Engineering) and Blake Lash (Biological Engineering), on CRISPR
March 22 (Week 7) Seminar cancelled; students attend evening debate on April 4.
April 5 (Week 8) Prof. Eric Driscoll (Ancient and Medieval Studies)
April 16 (Week 9) Debate
April 19 (Week 10) MIT Distinctive Collections
April 26 (Week 11) Prof. Per Urlaub (Global Languages)
May 3 (Week 12) Prof. Mike Short (Nuclear Science and Engineering)
May 12 (Week 13) End of year reflections

Past Friday Seminar Schedules

Fall 2023 (Canvas site [requires MIT login]; Fall 2023 seminar schedule)

Spring 2023 (Canvas site; requires MIT login)

Fall 2022 (Canvas site; requires MIT login)

Spring 2022 (Canvas site; requires MIT login)

Fall 2021 (Canvas site; requires MIT login)

Spring 2021 (Canvas site; requires MIT login)

Fall 2020 (Canvas site; requires MIT login)

Spring 2019

Spring 2017

Fall 2016

Spring 2016

Fall 2015

Fall 2014

Fall 2013

Spring 2013