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Dean’s Newsletter: Fall 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff

As we begin the academic year, I write to extend a warm welcome to new and returning members of our College of Social Sciences and Humanities community and share some college news.

Global Experiences

Throughout the summer, CSSH students and faculty took part in learning experiences across the globe. CSSH faculty led 30 Dialogue of Civilizations programs in locations ranging from Buenos Aires and Cairo to Riga and Seoul. During Summer I, Patrick Mullen, Associate Professor of English, led 18 students on a cross-country tour of Ireland to explore its culture through literature and film. They traveled from Dublin to Cork and Gaeltacht, reading and viewing Irish works in the places in which they were produced, and meeting with contemporary creators, including authors Nicole Flattery and Paul Murray. During Summer II, Daniel Aldrich, Professor of Political Science, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs, led Disasters and Recovery, investigating revitalization efforts around earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear meltdowns in Japan. Students interacted with scientists, public officials, and community activists at the sites of the Kobe earthquake and the Fukushima reactor failures. CSSH students also studied abroad at institutions such as the London School of Economics, Cambridge University, the University of Hong Kong, and Sciences Po in Paris. Some of our first-year students are starting their studies at the New College of the Humanities in London as part of the new Global Engagement Program, and CSSH majors will be studying at over 30 partner universities from Cape Town to Berlin this fall.

Faculty Awards and Recognitions

Since I last wrote in April, CSSH faculty and students have continued to earn impressive recognitions. For example, Tiffany Joseph, Associate Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, received a Ford Foundation Senior Fellowship to pursue her research on the impact of anti-immigrant policies, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and attempts to repeal Obamacare on immigrant populations. Kathrin Zippel, Professor of Sociology, received the Humboldt Alumni Award, presented by Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in June, for her work exploring ways to mitigate gender inequality in STEM fields. English PhD candidate Cara Messina won the 2019 Kairos Teaching Award from the online journal Kairos for her teaching of writing and digital technology. 2018 Sociology PhD graduate Anjuli Fahlberg won the Best Dissertation prize from the American Sociological Association for her dissertation titled “Activism Under Fire: Violence, Poverty, and Collective Action in Rio de Janeiro.” In July, Costas Panagopoulos, Interim Chair and Professor of Political Science, was appointed by Massachusetts State Senate President Karen Spilka to the Citizens Commission on corporate financial contributions and political campaigns. Rod Brunson, who joined us on July 1 as Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Chair of Public Life, with a joint appointment in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Political Science, and as Director of Graduate Mentoring and Diversity Initiatives, has been elected a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology.

Liza Weinstein, Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Serena Parekh, Director of the PPE Program and Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Cameron Blevins, Assistant Professor of History, have received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct a 2020 Summer Institute for college and university teachers through the Northeastern Humanities Center. Using the city of Boston as touchstone and laboratory, the Institute will equip participants for research and teaching at the intersection of geography and the humanities, with particular attention to digital humanities approaches.

Information and Data Ethics

As contemporary societies grapple with the complex ethical issues raised by new digital and computational technologies, our college continues to show leadership in the field of information and data ethics. This is one component of our work in Humanics, the effort to integrate human, technological, and data literacies in educational and research efforts. Under the auspices of the Ethics Institute, Ronald Sandler, Chair and Professor and of Philosophy and Religion, and John Basl, Associate Professor of Philosophy, have just released a groundbreaking report in collaboration with Accenture on ethical data collection, sharing, and usage in the age of Artificial Intelligence. The report, first publicized in articles in the Wall Street Journal and News@Northeastern, serves as a first-of-its-kind resource for the development of ethics committees within businesses, government agencies, and non-profits. Ron is also scheduled to be a featured speaker at an October workshop on the Seattle campus, which will convene business leaders from the Cascadia Region to help them form ethics committees within their companies.

Undergraduate Research and Co-op

The university and the college are putting a strong emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities. The Office Undergraduate Research & Fellowships recently launched PEAK with and impressive array of opportunities for students and faculty, and we also encourage you to look at the college’s revamped website for undergraduate research paths. On September 25, from 6 to 7:30 pm, Northeastern will host a university-wide undergraduate research fair, SOURCE, where students can learn from faculty and students about opportunities in CSSH research and engagement centers, as well as interdisciplinary opportunities in other colleges. And just a day later, on September 26, from  3 to 5 pm, we encourage everyone to attend our third CSSH Co-op Poster Expo  in Renaissance Park, where 60 students who have recently returned from co-op in Boston, as well as around the nation and the globe, will share their research and work experiences, and how they have impacted their pathways in the Experiential Liberal Arts.

Events and Fall Welcome

As the fall semester gets underway, I hope you will join the CSSH community at our many lectures and events. Beginning September 11, the Myra Kraft Open Classroom organized by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs will return each Wednesday, discussing topics related to the media’s influence on election primaries. The Center for International Affairs and World Cultures and Humanities Center will again host a speaker series on Contemporary Issues in Security and Resilience.

On September 19, as part of the Civility Series, Northeastern experts will discuss with the campus audience the question of Responding to Hate in an age of severe ideological divides and mass shootings. On September 26, Northeastern will host the Falling Walls Lab for the New England region, in partnership with the German Consulate in Boston; 20 entrepreneurs and academics will portray their groundbreaking project or idea in three-minute presentations to the audience and a distinguished jury.

The college will also host a number of notable speakers this fall. For example, author Michael Pollan will speak about his book on psychedelics, the mind, and spiritual experience on September 24 in this year’s Ruderman Lecture. On October 2, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich will ask “Saving Capitalism: Should We Even Try?” as part of the Fall Economic Policy Forum. Please check our events page for many exciting opportunities for intellectual exchange.

Finally, I hope to see you at our annual fall welcome receptions. Students, faculty, and staff will be able to vote for the winners of the CSSH Experiential Liberal Arts Photo Contest at a reception hosted by CSSH Advising on September 19, 3-5 pm, at 180 Renaissance Park. And faculty and staff will welcome our newest colleagues at a reception later that day from 3:30 to 5:30 at 909 Renaissance Park.

I wish you a successful year, and look forward to what we can learn and accomplish together on the Boston campus and throughout our global network.

With best wishes,

Uta Poiger
Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities

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