Welcome from the ESG Director

September 10, 2014

As September rolls around, I would like to welcome all of our new freshman to the ESG community, and to welcome back all of our ESG upper classmen and alumni. A special welcome goes to the MIT faculty taking part in our first-time faculty mentoring program.

Over the past year there have been many new developments at ESG. In January I formally took over as ESG director from Alex Slocum; in July we set in place a new administrative team of Graham Ramsay as Associate Director and Paola Rebusco as Academic Officer. Holly Sweet moved into a newly created position to oversee fund-raising and alumni development, building on her many years of engagement with ESG students and alumni.

This past year has seen a variety of new and ongoing educational initiatives, especially our multi-faceted plunge into video education. Graham Ramsay teamed up with documentary film maker and producer John Copeland to facilitate a student-created documentary about ESG. Snippets from the video will be posted on the ESG website and the entire video should be in final form sometime this fall. Graham and Dave Custer taught our first, highly successful, experimental video-communication course in the spring. The class was capped off by a well-received public presentation of student videos, which are currently posted on the ESG website. In addition, we continue to innovate at ESG using video in our classroom teaching. We have also incorporated video as a component of the public service projects conducted by ESGers last year in Nicaragua, Haiti and Nepal.

Among the exciting changes this year is the roll-out of a new ESG website, the product of a two-year collaboration between the Stoltze Design team, ESG staff, and James Bales and Camilla Brinkman from the Edgerton Center. The new site will host a variety of news and information items, including descriptions of ESG’s new initiatives and will be a resource for current and prospective students, parents, staff, and alumni.

Although some of the old continues to be replaced by the new at ESG (we have a new kitchen, video-enabled class rooms, a dedicated video-editing facility, and bean-bag chairs have replaced the hammock), the spirit of ESG remains very much intact. Last month, ESG figured prominently in the report to the president of MIT on the future of undergraduate education at MIT, and was cited as a program that encourages active hands-on learning, peer-teaching, small-group learning and a supportive community for students. The task force noted that “ESG has been a leader in active learning pedagogy, in which teaching is seen as a two-way process” and specifically recommended the expansion of MIT’s four freshman learning communities. Moving forward, there is an unparalleled opportunity for the lessons learned at ESG to contribute to the reshaping freshman education at MIT

As always, we remain dedicated to educational experimentation as a means of stimulating learning, and encouraging each student to find his or her academic passion. In order to ensure that educational experimentation remains an integral part of ESG into the future, we are kicking off a fundraising campaign in the fall of 2014 with the goal of $1,000,000 in ESG endowment by 2019, when ESG turns 50. We are looking forward to celebrating half a century life on the 6th floor of building 24!

Leigh Royden
Director, ESG
Professor, Geology and Geophysics, EAPS