Faculty Panel on Social Group Processes

In Fall 2018, the Office of the Chancellor, Division of Student Life, and student leaders in undergraduate residence halls discussed organizing a faculty panel conversation to help the MIT community better understand what is known about how social groups, organizations, and communities welcome or exclude members, and how sub-groups emerge and interact within and between groups. On Thursday, February 7 at 4:30 p.m. in 10-250, the below faculty will share insights from their scholarship and experiences, and will take audience questions. You can submit questions for panelists, or suggest topics you would like them to cover, using this form.

Susan Silbey (Moderator)
Susan S. Silbey is Chair of the Faculty and the Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Sociology, and Anthropology and Professor of Behavioral and Policy Sciences at MIT Sloan School of Management. She has written about the social organization of law in diverse institutional and informal settings including attorney general's offices, courts, schools, private homes, businesses and scientific laboratories; she has also studied alternative forms of dispute resolution including negotiation and mediation. Silbey’s current research looks at the roles and conceptions of law in scientific laboratories, comparing the place of law in expert communities and popular culture, with special attention to the ways in which complex technological organizations observe and govern themselves.

John Essigmann (Panelist)
John Essigmann is the William R. and Betsy P. Leitch Professor in Chemistry in the MIT Department of Chemistry and Toxicology and Biological Engineering. He is also the Director of the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences. Professor Essigmann’s research focuses on the relationships between the structures of lesions formed in the genome by DNA damaging agents and the specific biological endpoints of mutation, cancer, and cell death. At the panel, he will focus on what he has learned in his role as Head of House for 20 years, in New House and more recently in Simmons Hall.

John E. Fernandez (Panelist)
John E. Fernandez is a Professor and Director of the Building Technology Program in the Department of Architecture and is Director of the Urban Metabolism Group, a highly multidisciplinary research group focused on the resource intensity of cities and design and technology pathways for future urbanization. He is also Director of MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative and Head of House in Baker House. Professor Fernandez will bring insights from his research and experiences in MIT’s residential system to the panel discussion.

Parag Pathak (Panelist)
Parag Pathak is the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics at MIT, and co-director of the NBER Working Group on Market Design as well as MIT’s School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII). Professor Pathak’s work focuses on the relationships between education and human capital (or measurable skills) and income. His work has been used by school systems in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Newark, New York City, New Orleans, and Washington, DC for student placements, in attempts to make it easier for participants to navigate the systems and create a more level playing field of school opportunitites. 

Ray Reagans (Panelist)
Ray Reagans is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Management and Professor of Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He studies the origins and influence of what sociologists call social capital - how one’s networks and relations with others and the ways in which those networks are configured or organized influence various outcomes, such as circulating information, learning rates, and overall team performance. He also examines how demographic characteristics such as race, age, and gender affect the development of network relations, and how particular network structures affect performance and productivity.