Department Values Statement

We believe that the process to develop our BE Community Values should be public, meaning that all community members can participate, and transparent, meaning that it is clear to all community members how the final content of the statement will be decided on. The current draft was developed by the BE Graduate Student Board and reviewed by the BE Undergraduate Executive Board, BE Postdocs Association, and BE faculty. We welcome comments and feedback from the entire BE community, including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral associates and fellows, scientific, teaching, and other staff members, and faculty. The BE Graduate Diversity Chairs and the Department Head will work together to integrate all community feedback into the final statement. The statement will then be approved by all BE faculty at a faculty meeting and posted on the BE website in its final form.

Please send your comments and feedback to the BE Graduate Diversity Chairs (Claire,, and Manu, by March 15th. If you prefer, you may also leave anonymous feedback here.

BE Community Values Statement - Feb. 2017 (DRAFT)

The MIT Biological Engineering (BE) Department’s core values are rooted in our mission to educate leaders and generate new knowledge at the interface of engineering and biology. These Community Values guide our decision making and inspire us to advance a community in which everyone can thrive. We expect all BE community members to adhere to these values and take action if they are not being upheld.

  1. We are defining, establishing, and leading the emerging discipline of biological engineering.
    1. We use engineering approaches to make, model, and manipulate biological systems.
    2. We train scientists and engineers who value societal contribution and collegiality and who work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.
    3. We uphold the principles of the scientific method through our research, actions, and communications. ​
  2. We support a diverse and inclusive community.
    1. We value and actively promote a faculty, staff, postdoctoral, and student community of diverse races, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender expressions and gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, educational backgrounds, and intellectual convictions.
    2. We take action to ensure that every community member is empowered to take full advantage of MIT’s opportunities for learning, discovery, and personal growth.
    3. We engage in open, respectful discourse and the exchange of ideas from a wide variety of perspectives.​
  3. We provide a safe environment for learning, working, and living in which everyone can thrive.
    1. We affirm that nothing takes precedence over the physical and mental health and wellness of our community members.
    2. All community members treat one another with respect and professionalism.
    3. We acknowledge that the hierarchy within academia results in power imbalances. Regardless of a community member’s status as a student, faculty member, postdoctoral associate or fellow, scientific staff member, or other staff member, we do not permit any unequal power dynamics to affect our commitment to these shared values.
    4. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment. We will comply with the letter and spirit of the law and MIT policy when responding to discrimination and harassment.

Every community member has a right to fair, legal, and ethical treatment. Members who experience or witness behavior contrary to these values should seek support. Available resources include departmental administration (e.g. the Department Head, the Undergraduate and Graduate Program Chairs), student groups (e.g. REFS, undergraduate and graduate student boards, MIT Postdoctoral Association), MIT Medical and MIT Mental Health and Counseling, the Deans’ Offices, the Office for Student Citizenship, Human Resources, the MIT Work-Life Center, the Ombuds Office, and the Institute Title IX Office.

Resources for drafting this statement include MIT’s code and mission, codes from other institutions (Caltech and UC Berkeley), the 2015 MIT ICEO report, MIT faculty’s affirmation of our shared values (, and the 2015 Black Students’ Union Recommendations.