The History of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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The history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can be traced back to the 1861 incorporation of the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Society of Natural History” led primarily by William Barton Rogers. As early as 1859, the Massachusetts State Legislature was given a proposal for use of newly opened lands in Back Bay in Boston for a museum and Conservatory of Art and Science. On April 10, 1861, the governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts signed a charter for the incorporation of the “Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Society of Natural History” which had been submitted by William Barton Rogers, a natural scientist. Rogers sought to establish a new form of higher education to address the challenges posed by rapid advances in science and technology in the mid-19th century, that he believed classic institutions were ill-prepared to deal with. With the charter approved, Rogers began raising funds, developing a curriculum and looking for a suitable location. The Rogers Plan, as it came to be known, was rooted in three principles: the educational value of useful knowledge, the necessity of “learning by doing”, and integrating a professional and liberal arts education at the undergraduate level. MIT was a pioneer in the use of laboratory instruction. Its founding philosophy is “the teaching, not of the manipulations and minute details of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of all the scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them”.

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