Each year, Terrascope students take on a new Mission – a challenge that asks freshmen to solve a real-world, environmental problem.

This year’s “Mission 2021,” asks Class of 2021 first-year students to prepare the world for climate change:

Starting fall 2017, students enrolled in Terrascope confront the challenge of adapting to the impacts of climate change over the next 50 years. Class of 2021 first-year students in Terrascope will chart a path forward for two coastal communities – MIT and our host city Cambridge, and southern Bangladesh.

Mission 2021 Academic Year:

In the fall term (Subject 12.000 “Solving Complex Problems”), Terrascope students will work in teams to develop ways in which communities around the world can prepare themselves for the impacts of climate change. They will then propose real solutions that could be put in place in Cambridge, Massachusetts (MIT’s home) and in other coastal communities worldwide, thus gaining perspective on the varying threats that different locations face. At the end of the fall semester they will present these solutions to a panel of decision-makers and experts. In the spring term, students will have the chance to design and prototype specific technologies that address problems they have identified in Subject 2.00C/1.016/EC.746 (“Design for Complex Environmental Issues”). In a separate class (Subject SP.360, “Terrascope Radio”), students create a radio program that communicates their ideas to the wider public. A spring-break trip will enable students to travel to a site to see efforts to prepare for climate change first-hand.

Each Year’s Mission is Made of:

Solving Complex Problems

In the program’s cornerstone fall subject, 12.000, freshmen work as an interdisciplinary team to design a viable solution for the year’s Mission.


In the fall, students present their final design before a panel of experts and develop a website to provide a detailed description of their plan. Final projects for spring classes are presented at a Bazaar of Ideas and a public radio broadcast.

Spring Classes + Field Trip

Terrascope offers optional spring classes: SP.360 – Terrascope Radio, and 2.00C/1.016/EC.746 – Design for Complex Environmental Issues; and a week-long field trip over spring break.


Terrascope offers weekly lunches and study sessions during the semester, other year-round outings and activities, and 24-hour access to the Terrascope lounge (located in the center of campus).

Missions and Spring Break Destinations: