ELO Funding Eligible Workshop: Venice: a case study in sustainability
A workshop led by professors Paola Rizzoli ( EAPS) Andrew Whittle ( Course One) and Mary Anne Ocampo (DUSP) that serves as a prequel to the June 2021 Research Camp in Pellestrina.
The last 12 months have brought about radical changes, perhaps no more so than in Venice which has long-faced existential crises associated with frequent flooding, mass tourism and a declining population. After Venice experienced the worst storm surge flooding (and damage) in more than 50 years, the long-delayed Mose mobile flood barrier system is now effectively completed, but many question its effectiveness and environmental impact in the face of climate change. Meanwhile, the Veneto region has also been hard-hit by the covid-19 pandemic which has halted the tourism industry on which the local economy depends, but has coincidentally brought environmental benefits.
This is a historic moment to ask what can be done to achieve a more sustainable future for Venice: 1) to develop a more diverse economy and regrow the urban population; 2) to renovate the city and protect the fragile lagoon environment; and 3) to mitigate the impacts of mass tourism. MISTI-Italy invites MIT Freshmen & sophomores to learn more about the unique history and culture of Venice, and to contribute ideas to help the city evolve and thrive. Participants in this program will conduct independent research with faculty in the Fall and generate ideas for projects that will be carried out in collaboration with students and faculty from IUAV during a residential research camp in Venice next summer (June 2021). The workshop will meet weekly—beginning in mid- October-- with project proposals due over IAP and collaborative sessions with partner IUAV in the Spring. Juniors and Seniors will be welcome to join in the Spring.
Understanding the ongoing global AIDS epidemic and the drivers of new infections is best understood in context, which is the rationale for a course now being taught by Dr. Bruce Walker, Director of the Ragon Institute, together with Dr. Howard Heller from MIT. The course, sponsored through Health Sciences and Technology (HST.434) is taught each January to between 20 and 25 MIT undergraduates, who travel to the heart of the epidemic in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The course examines the medical, scientific, public health policy and advocacy responses to a new disease, by focusing on the evolution of the AIDS epidemic. It begins with a review of how this new disease was first detected in the US, followed by the scientific basis as to how HIV causes profound dysfunction of the body’s immune defense mechanisms, the rational development of drugs, the challenge of an HIV vaccine, and how patient advocacy and public health policy decisions have influenced the course of the global epidemic. Below, a video about the course provides more details regarding the focus and impact of the class on the students who participate.
Dr. Kyle Keane, Lecturer and Research Scientist in DMSE, has partnered with LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in Hyderabad, India to collaborate on a project to create new technologies that serve people with visual impairments.
Through MIT-India and the MISTI Global Seed Fund, Dr. Keane was able to travel to India with an entire class of students to produce prototypes that could be field tested, receive design feedback, and — for successful products — potentially enter the manufacturing and distribution pipelines. The credit-bearing course brought a mix of MIT undergraduate and graduate students to Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad. In addition to LVPEI, MIT-India introduced the group to the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi), where MIT students worked with the Assistech Lab, as well as doctors and physical therapists in other facilities.