Solving Complex Problems – Subject 12.000 (Fall)

Subject Description:

Subject 12.000, “Solving Complex Problems,” is the cornerstone of the Terrascope program and a powerful way to begin your MIT experience.  At the start of 12.000, students are given an important, complex, real-world problem to solve as a group.  Throughout the fall semester, students work together on a plan for solving the problem, ultimately publishing their solution on a comprehensive website.  The culmination of the experience is a public presentation, in which students present and defend their ideas for a panel of global experts.


In 12.000, as in all Terrascope classes, first-years are in charge of the classroom experience.  Faculty and guest experts lead a few class sessions during the semester, but fundamentally it’s up to the students to decide, collectively, how to tackle the year’s problem: how to divide into teams, what approach to take, how to get any necessary information, and how to manage the entire problem-solving process.  Faculty, staff, Undergraduate Teaching Fellows, Alumni Mentors and librarians are all available for support, but the types and methods of support given are guided by the first-years.  The Terrascope program is founded on the belief that first-years are ready to start taking on the world’s biggest problems, and 12.000 offers them that chance as soon as they arrive at MIT.


The topic for this year’s incoming first-years is described here, along with details for joining Terrascope.




1-2-6 (3 of these are counted as Discovery units, so Subject 12.000 and four 12-unit classes will fit under the first-year credit limit)


Fall, TR 2:30-4


Limited to first-year students, no cap


David McGee and Ari Epstein