Please watch the MIT Community Vigil, which expresses our community’s grief, anger, and hope in the wake of the recent, tragic killings of African Americans in the United States.

The core mission of the Global Diversity Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is to better understand the social, political, and economic causes and consequences of cultural diversity around the world. Our work aims to inform scholarship, policy and practice towards improved human wellbeing and human dignity. And we seek to train future leaders and scholars through undergraduate and graduate courses at MIT.

Increasingly diverse societies face both great challenges and opportunities: On the one hand, real and perceived differences of ethnicity, race, religion, or national origin continue to be the basis for bias, discrimination, and conflict. Ethnic minorities, immigrants, and refugees face hate speech, political exclusion, and violence.

On the other hand, some of the world’s most productive and vibrant organizations and societies identify diversity as core to their success. The mixing of people from around the world – and the sharing of art, culture, and ideas — is the lifeblood of major urban centers. Leading institutions, including MIT, require diverse talents, drawn from diverse backgrounds around the globe, in order to advance science and technology.

At MIT’s Global Diversity Lab, we intend to distill lessons about how to harness the value of diversity and to reduce violence and inequality through careful social science research, informed by work in a range of disciplines.

Woven Chronicle, By Reena Kallat
2011/2016
Circuit boards, speakers, electric wires and fittings;
single channel audio (10 min.)
127 x 570 x 12 in. l 322 x 1447 x 30 cm. 
Installation view, Museum of Modern Art, New York 

Panel 1

Research

photo by fady habib

Careful historical analysis Informs Our Research… But History is not Destiny.

Serious research on global diversity demands appreciation of historical processes, events, and institutions. Our lab is focused on wedding rigorous historical analysis to contemporary patterns and policies.

While highlighting the importance of the past, we challenge the fatalistic notion that identity-based conflicts are merely “ancient hatreds,” let alone that history is destiny. We must grapple with questions such as, how and why did particular ethnic, racial and national identities become salient? What are the political and economic conditions under which migration takes place? Are there enduring lessons to be learned about how to harness the value of diversity towards human dignity, development and sustained peace?

Looking forward, can historical and theoretical insights be applied to the design of institutions, public policies, computational algorithms, cities, and the very conception of human identities? How will emerging global trends in computing, communication, and urbanization, as well as new challenges, such as climate change and globalization, contribute to the manifestation of diversity?

Our work considers how answers to the question of “who is us?” shapes tangible outcomes, including health, economic development, security, and human rights. And we consider how democratic institutions can contribute to the building of tolerant and cohesive communities.

Panel 2

People

The MIT Global Diversity Lab is based in the Department of Political Science. Within our ranks are leading faculty with wide regional expertise; research skills in experimental, statistical, historical/case-study, machine learning, and field-based methods; and experience conducting research and teaching in related substantive and methodological courses. We span the traditional disciplinary Political Science subfields of Comparative Politics, International Relations and American Politics.

photo credit: Evan Lieberman
Long March to Freedom at the Cradle of Humankind

Associated faculty

GRADUATE FELLOWS

Panel 4 Placeholder