Growing CUHF Community at MIT

Will the future be humane and livable? What knowledge and values will guide and sustain us? For nearly two years, the faculty and staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been convening in small circles to build and deepen collective reflection on the planetary environmental crisis, as an Affiliate of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future.

Their story has been profiled in a recently published article by MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS). Laur Hesse Fisher, the Program Director of MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative speaks to her experience:

“It’s my full-time job to direct projects that help the public and key constituents relate and incorporate climate science, impacts, and solutions. But through the Council process, I saw how infrequently I emotionally or existentially connect to the reality of climate change and what’s physically and psychologically changing in our world. And as I inquired into why this is so for me, I saw the safeguards I myself put in place in order to ‘keep calm and carry on.’ Can we — human beings — really be present to these colossal changes that are occurring? And if so, what then? The CUHF gave me time to do something I normally wouldn’t—be still, reflect on this moment in time, and inquire into my beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors about the world that’s shifting around me, with me.”

First launched in the summer of 2020, the Council on the Uncertain Human Future was offered to an initial group of twenty-three MIT faculty members with environmental commitments and interests. Held virtually over five weeks, the two circles were convened by Sarah Buie and Melissa Hoffer, of the CUHF’s Core Team.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants—and the inclusion in MIT’s 2021 Climate Action Plan—the CUHF has grown, welcoming new community members into the process and deepening its work through the formation of Steady Councils. Roughly 60 faculty and staff from across MIT have participated so far in Council circles convened by CUHF Core Team members Sarah Buie, Kevin Gallagher, and Diana Chapman Walsh, as well as MIT’s Curt Newton.

“The Council gives the MIT community the kind of deep discourse that is so necessary to face climate change and a rapidly changing world,” says ESI director and professor of architecture John Fernández ’85.

The CUHF at MIT is co-sponsored by the Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI), directed by Professor John Fernandez, and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), under the Office of the Dean. It’s work is documented on the MIT Climate Portal.


The full article is available, here.