The establishment of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI) and the appointment of Professor Suzanne Berger, a leading scholar of comparative politics and political economy, to direct it have been announced by Provost Mark S. Wrighton.
Provost Wrighton also announced that Dr. Berger, a member of the Department of Political Science, has been selected as the first holder of a new professorship established by the Raphael Dorman and Helen Starbuck Memorial Fund. The professorship has been designated for a distinguished faculty member working in the area of international relations.
"In connection with her current role as leader of MIT's International Science and Technology Initiative, and based on her distinguished record of academic achievement, it is most fitting that Dr. Berger be the inaugural holder of the Raphael Dorman and Helen Starbuck Professorship," the provost said.
The establishment of MISTI reflects the broad consensus at MIT that it is important for education and research to reflect a global view, Professor Wrighton said. MISTI's programs will be coordinated administratively within MIT's Center for International Studies (CIS), which is headed by Professor Kenneth A. Oye.
"The rationale for this internationalization of education and research was in part laid out in two major MIT studies and in President Vest's inaugural address," Professor Wrighton said. Made in America, the report of the MIT Commission on Industrial Productivity, emphasized our country's need to learn to live in the world economy and underscored MIT's obligation to provide the kind of education in cultures, practices and languages that would enable this.
The other study, the provost continued, was that of the Committee on International Relationships of MIT in a Technologically Competitive World, which stated in 1991: "MIT's responsibility to the nation in which it was founded and nurtured is served first and foremost by maintenance of its position as a premier institution in education and research in science and technology. The commitment to maintain preeminence requires that MIT be thoroughly engaged in international activities in science and technology and that its faculty, students and research staff be able to interact fully and openly with, and stay abreast of, research wherever it is carried out."
The committee, headed by MIT Professor Eugene Skolnikoff of political science, a former director of the CIS, said that "to prepare MIT's graduates better for the realities of today's global society and marketplace, the faculty and administration should take steps to strengthen the international dimensions of the undergraduate curriculum."
Under Professor Berger's leadership, MISTI is setting up programs and opportunities for research, study and work abroad. The goal is to give life to the recommendations of the 1991 committee and to the inaugural address call of President Vest to make "the matter of international context and opportunity an integral part of an MIT education."
At present, MIT provides many opportunities for foreign students, scholars and companies to learn how to operate in an American research environment, Professor Berger said. "Through MISTI, we seek to secure the same opportunities for our own students abroad," she said.
The new international programs will develop over a period of years. In the first phase, Professor Berger said, a set of programs for China is being developed with four objectives:
- Encourage and facilitate faculty-driven and faculty-desired research projects in China.
- Deepen on-campus educational programs in Chinese language, history and politics.
- Seek collaborations with research and educational institutions in China.
- Develop the MISTI/China link as a collaboration in which other institutions elsewhere in the world might participate.
Dr. Berger is best known for her contributions to the study of Western Europe. Much of her research has analyzed the persistence of differences among advanced industrial societies. In 1986 she founded Seminar XXI, an MIT program on international politics that is taught in Washington, DC, for members of government and business. She was a co-author of Made in America: Regaining the Productive Edge (MIT Press, 1989). She is a member of the operating committee of the Industrial Performance Center at MIT and of the Center for International Studies.
Dr. Berger received the BA degree from the University of Chicago in 1960 and the PhD from Harvard University in 1967. She joined MIT in 1968. She continues as a senior research associate at Harvard's Center for European Studies.
Her honors include the French-American Foundation Chair in American Civilization at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris, Guggenheim and Woodrow Wilson fellowships, and grants from the Ford Foundation and the American Philosophical Society. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the German American Academic Council.
Dr. Berger headed the Department of Political Science from 1989 to 1992. She has been Ford International Professor of Political Science since 1985.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 25, 1995.