ESD Summer Reading Lists 2003–2014
Author(s)Sussman, Joseph M.
Back in 2003, when ESD was a toddler of about 4 1⁄2, we were preparing for our spring semester offsite traditionally held at the end of the academic year in late May or early June. I had the idea of preparing a short list of books with relevance to the ESD mission-the study of complex sociotechnical systems-and presented that idea to the then (and founding) ESD director Prof. Daniel Roos. He agreed it would be worthwhile as an experiment, and so I did create the first ESD Summer Faculty Reading List. A “summer” reading list carries the suggestion of books you can take to “the beach”. So no “text books” were included. The books were treatments of critical contemporary issues that the world faces, important methods and perspectives germane to these issues and the complex sociotechnical systems in general, and relevant history. In retrospect, the beach would likely be too distracting a venue for many of these books! I got some “attaboys” on the 2003 list. A number of my colleagues said it was nice to take a look at my ideas about what books might be interesting reading. So with that positive feedback, I began to do this ESD Faculty Summer Reading List each year. When I did it the second year, I noted that this had now become a “tradition” and with an organization as young as ESD, we needed all the traditions we could get. You can see where it has gone from here. The tradition has continued to the present day, with now twelve years of history for this reading list. In the early days, the commentary on the books was largely my own. As years wore on we would include materials that others-the publisher or book reviewers-had prepared with some supplementary comments from me. And in later years my comments became less and less prevalent and even non-existent. Another thing we did regularly was to include books that had been published during that current academic year by ESD faculty/teaching staff, so this served as a mechanism for highlighting the scholarly work of my ESD colleagues and in 2013, two books published by MIT Press and Penguin Press book were included. In any case, we have these reading lists encompassing books over this twelve-year period and thought it would be helpful to publish it as an ESD working paper to give our colleagues at MIT and outside the Institute access in one document to this eclectic potpourri of books. You may even find something you want to read that you missed the first time around. We hope the reader finds this compendium to be useful and we look forward to any feedback that you may have including suggestions for 2015 and forward.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
ESD Working Papers;ESD-WP-2014-17