Dialogues Across Difference

Building Community at MIT

To offer a meaningful public forum and focal point for the disparate campus initiatives related to MIT’s sense of community, in 2023 the Institute launched “Dialogues Across Difference”—a series of guest lectures and campus conversations to encourage community members to speak openly and honestly about freedom of expression, race, meritocracy, and the intersections and potential conflicts among these issues.

Dialogues Across Difference focuses on modeling disagreement by elevating and encouraging dialogue. The series invites internal and external speakers whose expertise can help cultivate civil discourse, critical thinking, and empathy among members of our community, and it serves as a platform for public discussions related to Standing Together Against Hate, the MIT Values Statement; the Strategic Action Plan for Belonging, Achievement, and Composition; the Faculty Statement on Free Expression; and other ongoing campus initiatives or debates.

Dialogues Across Difference is sponsored by the offices of the President, Provost, and Chancellor. Advance registration and an MIT ID are required for entry at each event; for accessibility accommodations, please contact iceo@mit.edu. To stay informed about future events, sign up for the ICEO newsletter.

Malick Ghachem and Tracie Jones-Barrett
Professor History Malick W. Ghachem and Interim Deputy ICEO Tracie Jones-Barrett at the October 26, 2023, Dialogues Across Difference event. Photo courtesy of Institute Events

Spring 2024

February 12, 4-5 pm

Understanding Antisemitism: Enduring Hatred

  • Speaker: Pamela Nadell is the director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University. Her research focuses on American Jewish history and antisemitism in the United States.
  • Moderator: Richard Lester, Japan Steel Industry Professor in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Vice Provost for International Activities
  • Watch the recording

February 26, 4-5 pm

Campus Freedom of Expression:  Antisemitism and the Current Controversies

  • Speaker: Erwin Chemerinsky is the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law. A free speech scholar who has recently written about antisemitism on college campuses, he specializes in constitutional law, criminal procedure, and federal jurisdiction.
  • Moderator: Edward Schiappa, John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at MIT and former head of Comparative Media Studies/Writing
  • Watch the recording

March 18, 4-5 pm

Islamophobia: A Threat to All

  • Speaker: Dalia Mogahed is the former director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. She is a Muslim studies scholar, specializing in issues of gender, identity, and Islamophobia in America.
  • Moderator: Lily Tsai, Ford Professor of Political Science and past Chair of the MIT Faculty
  • Watch the recording

April 18, 4-5 pm

What Hinges on Anti-Palestinian Racism?

  • Speaker: Murad Idris is an associate professor of political theory in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Global Islamic Studies Center. His research and teaching explores political theory, the history of political thought, and political theology.
  • Moderator: Fotini Christia is the Ford International Professor of the Social Sciences at MIT, the director of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center, and the director of Graduate Studies at MIT.
  • In agreement with the speaker, this lecture was not recorded. Murad Idris is currently completing a book project that explores all the ideas discussed in greater length.

May 9, 4-5 pm

A Model for Discussing Conflict and War in the Middle East

  • Speakers: Susannah Heschel is the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor and chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on the history of Jewish and Protestant religious thought in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and she has brought post-colonial theory and feminist theory to her analyses. Ezzedine Fishere is a senior lecturer at Dartmouth where he teaches courses on Middle East politics; he is also a novelist and a contributing columnist for the Washington Post.
  • Moderator: Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Karl Reid.
  • Watch the recording

Fall 2023

October 26, 2023

“Neutrality, Diversity, and the University: The Making of the 1967 Kalven Report

  • Speaker: Malick W. Ghachem, Professor of History at MIT
  • Moderator: Tracie Jones-Barrett, Interim Deputy Institute Community and Equity Officer
  • Watch the recording
  • Read the coverage

Spring 2023

March 22, 2023

“Humility, Community, and the Search for Truth at MIT”