New Programs Expand Global Footprint

New offerings launched on sustainability and innovation in Taiwan, India, and the United Arab Emirates.


As the global population continues its rapid growth with a projected population of 9.5 billion people living on the planet by 2050, nearly 86% of that population will live in urban areas. These 21st century cities will account for nearly 90% of global population growth, 80% of wealth creation, and 60% of total energy consumption.

On January 11–12, 2016, MIT Professional Education hosted the Short Programs course, Beyond Smart Cities, led by Dr. Kent Larson, director of the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group, and Dr. Ryan C.C. Chin. The course focused on improving the livability of cities while dramatically reducing resource consumption.

This first foray into the greater China area followed an urban mobility project announcement where Taiwan Premier Mao Chi-kuo PhD ’82, along with Larson, inaugurated the autonomous tricycle—coined Persuasive Electric Vehicle (PEV)—testing project in Taipei, the country’s capital.

“We were lucky to have had the opportunity to launch our very first professional education program in Taiwan in conjunction with such a high profile MIT research project,” says Bhaskar Pant, executive director of MIT Professional Education. “Our course, already very popular at MIT and featuring the same faculty involved with the PEV project, addressed not only innovations in transportation but other aspects of living more intelligently in the cities of the future. A very important element in the course also was to include local guest lecturers who brought to light local challenges confronting Taiwan specifically.”

Participants in the course not only had the chance to hear faculty speak about the latest trends on the topic, they also had the opportunity to actively work in cross-generational groups to tackle real problems facing urban cities. “This was an experience that’s unheard of in Taiwan. The hands-on group exercises were excellent,” a class participant noted. “Groups discussed issues they cared about passionately. MIT should definitely continue its tradition of the ‘mind-and-hand’ learning model here in Taiwan.”

MIT Professional Education is preparing several new international program offerings during the coming months, including a Beyond Smart Cities course in Hong Kong on June 6, 2016.


In October 2015, the International Programs team brought the Radical Innovation course to Dubai and Bangalore. For the second year in a row, course director Professor Sanjay Sarma explored the impact of innovation across the world and shared tools, procedures, and incentives that can be used to drive progress. A total of over 60 participants attended “Radical Innovation” across the two locations.

“As the business hub of the Middle East and the Silicon Valley of India, Dubai and Bangalore are the ideal locations for courses on innovation,” says Professor Sarma. “In addition to imparting my own expertise, our guest lecturers shared their unique perspectives on the extraordinary pace of innovation in the region.”

To ensure relevant educational experiences, the International Programs team works with on-the-ground collaborators who know the market and regional trends. Lily Fu, associate director of international marketing for MIT Professional Education, says, “For example, the Beyond Smart Cities course in Taiwan featured MIT faculty members as well as three local guest lecturers—experts who discussed the implications of the region’s expanded urbanization.”

Over the course of the next several years, MIT Professional Education plans to expand into new countries and regions, including South Africa, Singapore, and South America.