Program Overview

Terrascope is a learning community for first-year students to solve complex, real-world problems starting in their first semester at MIT.

At the core of the Terrascope program is one basic but important idea: MIT students, even as first-year students, are ready to take control of their own education and to tackle big, important problems.  With each new class of first-year students, Terrascope explores a different global issue – and it’s the students who take command.  Our students work in teams to develop solutions, drawing on diverse perspectives, interdisciplinary research, and a supportive Terrascope community.


Terrascope also offers the advantages of a small, vibrant community, plus academic advising, a unique curriculum, and extracurricular activities.


Each academic year, Terrascope hosts three events that are free and open to the public and showcase the final product of our students’ endeavors in the Terrascope classes. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these events and give feedback to our students. Additionally, the 12.000 Final Presentation is broadcast on our Facebook Page and the Radio Broadcast is broadcast on 88.1 WMBR, MIT’s radio station.

What makes Terrascope different from other first-year learning experiences?

Our Focus

Our curriculum changes each year, with each class of first-year students focusing on a different issue related to sustainability and Earth systems.

Our Approach

First-year students take the lead in our project-based classes where teams work together to solve problems.

Our Community

The Terrascope community comes together throughout the year, connecting first-year students with a support network of upperclassmen, MIT alumni, faculty, and staff.

Our Reach

Students raise awareness of the importance of each year’s Mission via public presentations, a website, radio broadcast, and other outreach.

Our Classes

Terrascope first-year students enroll in one fall subject (12.000 – Solving Complex Problems), as well as optional design and radio production classes in the spring.

Our Spring Break

Over spring break, first-year students can go on a field trip to a site related to the year’s Mission.