The What, Who and How of DUE: Concourse
  • From left, freshmen Kira Street and Zeo Liu
    From left, freshmen Kira Street and Zeo Liu
    Jon Sachs
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

As one of the four freshman learning communities at MIT, Concourse provides a guiding environment for first year students, emphasizing one-on-one guidance, small classroom sizes and a strong sense of community. It is often referred to as a “school within a school,” built on a foundation of peers, advisors and professors.

The 40-year-old program focuses on the integration of humanities into MIT’s traditional science- and technology-based curriculum, teaching students that most technical courses have a mutually beneficial interaction with the humanities and social sciences. While still fulfilling their MIT core requirements, students have the opportunity to reflect and search for deeper meanings as they shape their futures. Anne McCants, director of Concourse, emphasizes the importance of this approach: “I think that to be truly educated, and to fulfill our real potential as scholars, it is not enough to know many things, or to be able to do many things, valuable as that may be. We actually have to know what those things are good for (how they nourish life and well-being), and it is the humanistic disciplines that school us for those questions.”

Why do students choose Concourse?

Each year, Concourse selects 40 to 50 students to participate in the program. “With limited space it is important to select freshmen who will thrive in the learning community’s environment,” says Concourse advisor Paula Cogliano. Participating students are incoming freshmen with an interest in incorporating a humanities framework to their MIT education.

“MIT students are great at finding their own support groups filled with experience and wisdom," McCants adds. "Concourse offers freshman opportunities essential for navigating MIT that they don’t have to go searching for.” By providing students with the support they need as first-year students, it gives them time to adjust to the MIT workload, and build meaningful relationships with peers, professors and advisors.

Signature Friday seminars are just one opportunity students have to bond with the community. Every Friday afternoon all members reconnect in collaborative conversation over lunch. In addition to conversing with Concourse professors and advisors, students hear from an MIT faculty guest speaker each week. This gives freshmen the advantage of engaging with professors they may take classes from in the future.

Alumni are vital to the program

Read the full story on MIT News.