Terrascope is a student-run class offered to MIT freshmen that focuses on solving complex world problems through the collaboration of students, faculty, and alumni. In the class, freshmen gain insight on how scientists and engineers employ multidisciplinary approaches when faced with seemingly impossible problems, while also learning about the different systems of their earth and their relative impacts upon the human population. Terrascope teaches students to become more adept in researching methods and raises their awareness about the vast resources available at MIT.
This year, the mission for the class of 2014 (Mission 2014) is to determine “How Do We Feed the Planet?” Although the human race currently produces enough food to feed everyone on the planet (Leathers & Foster, 2009, p.133), approximately 925 million people worldwide remain acutely or chronically undernourished (Sibrain, 2010). Our task involves identifying the reasons behind this paradox and diagnosing the root causes of world hunger.
This semester we have worked to create a solution, which we have presented here on this website, that addresses the current global food security problem within a timeline of 100 years. Through our research, we have gained insight into the reality of the complexity of the world’s current situation and a respective understanding of the fragile nature of the world’s food system.
We would like to thank all the alumni mentors, undergraduate teaching fellows (UTFs), Terrascope faculty and staff for their dedication to the project and for their constant support and constructive criticism throughout the past few months. Through your guidance, we have obtained a true appreciation for what it takes to perform quality research and present a qualified, innovative solution.
As Atul Gawande states in Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance:
“Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.”
We know that we cannot definitively prove that our solution is the best solution, or even that it's a viable solution. We can only attest that we spent two months developing this solution and immersing ourselves in research. We've learned a lot about group dynamics and solving complex problems. However, most importantly, we learned that in order to solve a complex problem, one has to start. Some of us now intend to learn more about the problem through our trip to India this spring, the Terrascope classes in the spring, or pursuing a major related to this subject matter.
We hope you enjoy our website!
To learn more about Terrascope, please check out the website: http://web.mit.edu/terrascope/www/index.html
Mission 2014 Class
Minh Tue Vo Thanh
Undergraduate Teaching Fellows
Sheldon W. Buck
Paul D. Jacobson
Gawande, Atul. (2007). Better: A Surgeon's Note on Performance. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Leathers, H., & Foster, P. (2009). The world food problem: toward ending undernutrition in the third world. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc.
Sibrain, R. (2010). Millenium Development Goals Indicators: Series Metadata. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx?IndicatorId=0&SeriesId=566