CMU School of Drama

Friday, March 24, 2017

It’s A Time For Disobedience: MIT Media Lab Will Pay $250,000 To Support It

Fast Company: “You don’t change the world by doing what you’re told.” So says Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab, on the nomination form for a new type of award: a prize for disobedience.

The award–a $250,000, no-strings-attached cash prize, funded by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman–will go to a person or group responsible for an “extraordinary” example of disobedience for the good of society. While that might take the form of traditional civil disobedience, Ito defines disobedience broadly.


Emma Reichard said...

Academia is strange environment to exist in as an activist. Because inherently academics are rule followers. I’m constantly amazed by the number of times I’ve seen professors and faculty do things ‘because that’s just what we’re supposed to do’ and ‘we’ve always done it this way’. So I’m glad an academic institution like MIT (or at least one part of MIT) is encouraging dissent. This ‘do what your told’ mentality permeates through most parts of our society. It doesn’t allow for questioning or critical thinking. It’s a great way to maintain status quo. Which is why it’s so important to question the way things are done. And if you disagree with a ‘rule’ morally, I see no reason not to break it. I know specifically this comes up in term of protest. There’s always complaints when protests block roads or disrupt pedestrian or traffic flow, but that’s how protests get noticed. There’s no point in protesting is people who want to are able to ignore it.

Katherine Sharpless said...

Unfortunately, this article reminds me of my less than engaging Interp class last semester, where our primary topic of discussion was on civil disobedience. Fortunately, while I see there are some kinks and dilemmas surrounding this award for disobedience, I think it is a good idea to educate on activism and civil disobedience. Rarely is anyone ever taught the ways to be an activist, to practice civil disobedience, and truly be effective with non violent change. Instead it seems like something that just happens because of one leader or circumstance- or you just write a term paper about activist theatre and call it a day. The disobedience award, if anything, highlights examples of noteworthy citizens and can work to educate how you can be involved with civil disobedience, or how to integrate what you care about socially and politically in your art. However, the MIT controversy makes me doubt the sincerity of the fund and if the university will play a hand in the winner, based on covering their image.