Centers and Joint Programs

Center for Civic Media

Directed by: 
Ethan Zuckerman
Directed by: 
Sasha Costanza-Chock
Lorrie LeJeune
Communities need information to make decisions and take action: to provide aid to neighbors in need, to purchase an environmentally sustainable product and shun a wasteful one, to choose leaders on local and global scales. Communities are also rich repositories of information and knowledge, and often develop their own innovative tools and practices for information sharing. Existing systems to inform communities are changing rapidly, and new ecosystems are emerging where old distinctions like writer/audience and journalist/amateur have collapsed. The Civic Media group is a partnership between the MIT Media Lab and Comparative Media Studies at MIT. Together, we work to understand these new ecosystems and to build tools and systems that help communities collect and share information and connect that information to action. We work closely with communities to understand their needs and strengths, and to develop useful tools together using collaborative design principles. We particularly focus on tools that can help amplify the voices of communities often excluded from the digital public sphere and connect them with new audiences, as well as on systems that help us understand media ecologies, augment civic participation, and foster digital inclusion.

Center for Mobile Learning

Directed by: 
Mitchel Resnick
Directed by: 
Hal Abelson
Directed by: 
Eric Klopfer

The Center for Mobile Learning invents and studies new mobile technologies to promote learning anywhere anytime for anyone. The Center focuses on mobile tools that empower learners to think creatively, collaborate broadly, and develop applications that are useful to themselves and others around them. The Center's work covers location-aware learning applications, mobile sensing and data collection, augmented reality gaming, and other educational uses of mobile technologies. The Center’s first major activity will focus on App Inventor, a programming system that makes it easy for learners to create mobile apps by fitting together puzzle piece-shaped “blocks” in a web browser.

Center for Terrestrial Sensing


The mission of the Media Lab's new Center for Terrestrial Sensing is to explore unconventional ways to sense and visualize inaccessible natural environments–places where it is impossible for humans to go physically, such as underground, undersea oil fields, and the atmosphere. How people connect with, navigate, and interact with large amounts of geoscience information is an area with both world-changing potential and deep challenges. The Center for Terrestrial Sensing aims to connect the People to the Planet.

Research Vision


The Center’s themes will address the fundamental challenges and opportunities presented by global sensing and user interfaces of volumetric data visualization. We will also explore remote collaboration to address connection and interaction challenges among people located at different spaces and times.

We aim to redesign, develop, and build new visualization tools that reveal the unseen and relay information that lies beyond human perception. To this end, the Center explores new ways to create novel 3D user-interface interaction models for instrumented global environments by focusing on three main research pivots: sensing, visualisation, and remote collaboration.

We will tackle these challenges by addressing the following questions:

--How to represent and interact with multi-dimensional (>=3D) information and models?
--How to seamlessly integrate inter-personal and 3D shared workspaces for geographically distributed collaboration?
--How to create efficient novel mobile devices and tools for field access to 3D data and simulations as well as collaboration?

Communications Futures Program

Directed by: 
Andrew Lippman
Deborah Widener
The Communications Futures Program conducts research on industry dynamics, technology opportunities, and regulatory issues that form the basis for communications endeavors of all kinds, from telephony to RFID tags. The program operates through a series of working groups led jointly by MIT researchers and industry collaborators. It is highly participatory, and its agenda reflects the interests of member companies that include both traditional stakeholders and innovators. It is jointly directed by Dave Clark (CSAIL), Charles Fine (Sloan School of Management), and Andrew Lippman (Media Lab).