Image of MIT’s Mid-Century Convocation MIT’s Mid-Century Convocation
MIT’s Mid-Century Convocation, Winston Churchill, 1949

More than 13,000 people waited in the Boston Garden to hear Winston Churchill on March 31, 1949. The former and future British prime minister did not disappoint. In a keynote for MIT’s Mid-Century Convocation, Churchill gave an Olympian and well-received speech that swept across 50 years of global history into a tough but measured analysis of the Cold War, which was delivered during the Berlin Airlift. The address was seen as his most important since the Iron Curtain speech three years earlier. Wryly admitting that “I have no technical and no university education, and have just had to pick up a few things as I went along,” Churchill took an optimistic view of science’s potential to tackle key problems such as hunger. After two days of related and highly public presentations on science, technology, society, and governmental policy, the Convocation ended with the inauguration of MIT President James R. Killian.

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