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Dean’s Newsletter: Fall 2022

At the end of this eventful second week of the fall semester, I write to extend a warm welcome to new and returning members of our College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) community!

Together, our students, faculty, and staff create and curate knowledge, addressing deep historical as well as pressing current issues ranging from climate change to race and social justice to public health. Collaboration is at the center of our Experiential Liberal Arts mission. 


A Full Summer: Summer Bridge Scholars Program, Dialogues of Civilizations, Mills at Northeastern, and NEH Summer Institute 

After a busy summer, we are delighted to welcome all our first-year and transfer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students this fall. We had the opportunity to begin meeting many of our new students over the summer during orientation sessions. In July, the Summer Bridge Scholars Program, a key part of Northeastern’s diversity and inclusion mission, gathered about 260 incoming first-year students for an energetic week of academic and social events to acclimate them to the next phase of their educational journeys. The program included students from many different backgrounds. 

As part of the Summer Bridge programming, Régine Jean-Charles, Director of Africana Studies, Dean’s Professor of Culture and Social Justice, and Professor of Africana Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, taught a sample class, “A History of Saying #metoo in Black Women’s Activism and Writing.” Amy Farrell, Director and Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Co-Director of the Violence and Justice Research Lab, led a panel exploring professional pathways. Photos from these events can be found on Facebook

Peer mentors also played a significant role, acting as guides throughout the program. Of the seven CSSH peer mentors, six are first-generation college students and three are alumni of the 2021 Summer Bridge. These peer mentors are committed to supporting their mentees throughout their first year of college life. 

Many colleagues taught over the summer in Boston or led Dialogues of Civilization. CSSH faculty led a over twenty Dialogues, in locations from Nairobi to Palermo to London to Geneva to Delhi and on topics ranging from the 21st-Century City to the United Nations to food and culture in Vietnam and Cambodia. Two popular, returning Dialogues included The Twenty-First Century City (led by Tom Vicino and Lori Gardinier), which successfully pivoted from Japan to London this year; and The United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, which was again led by Denise Garcia. Many current CSSH students and recent CSSH graduates supported the programs as assistants. They Include Paula Domit (PPE ‘21), Daniela Lacal (Political Science and International Affairs ‘20), Michael Tormey (Civil Engineering and Economics ‘20), and Alexandra Jacobs (Human Services ‘22). 

Also this summer, many CSSH colleagues collaborated with faculty and staff at Northeastern’s newest campus, Mills College at Northeastern in Oakland to ensure learning continuity for students, to prepare courses and experiences for the N.U.in and NUBound programs there, and to start research collaborations. One such collaboration has resulted in an impact accelerator, City to City: Finding Equitable Solutions to Local Policy Problems (C2C), awarded to Alicia Sasser Modestino (SPPUA/Economics) and Carrie Maultsby-Lute (Oakland) through Northeastern’s Impact Engine Initiative. 

And in June, the National Endowment for the Humanities funded the Humanities Center’s three-week Summer Institute, “Engaging Geography in the Humanities.” Led by Liza Weinstein, Serena Parekh, and Ángel David Nieves, the Institute brought together humanities scholars from across disciplines and a broad range of institutions across the country. Participants used the city of Boston as a laboratory to explore how to integrate ideas of space and a range of digital tools into teaching and research. 


Welcoming New Faculty 

We are excited to welcome many new faculty faces to CSSH this year. Of this impressive group of instructors and researchers, whom you can see here, let me highlight two. 

Denise Khor joins us as Associate Professor of Asian American Studies and Visual Studies. Jointly appointed in the Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies (CSSH) and Department of Art + Design (CAMD), Dr. Khor is a preeminent media historian, working in the areas of early cinema, nontheatrical film, and Asian American film and media culture. She is the author of Transpacific Convergences: Race, Migration and Japanese American Film Culture before World War II (University of North Carolina Press, 2022), which explores the historical experiences of Japanese Americans at the cinema and traces an alternative network of film production, circulation, and exhibition, and she is working on her next book project, The Invisible Hand: A History of Asian Americans in the Animation Industry

Eric Piza joins CSSH as Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Director of Crime Analysis Initiatives. The author of more than 50 journal articles and three books, Dr. Piza has been a featured speaker at conferences and seminars organized by government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, Carabineros De Chile (The National Police Force of Chile), and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. His research focuses on the spatial analysis of crime patterns, evidence-based policing, crime control technology, and the integration of academic research and police practice.  


Faculty Research, Recognition, and Press 

Since I last wrote in May, CSSH faculty have continued to earn impressive recognitions and grants. We congratulate our colleagues who were promoted as of July 1. 

Led by Dan O’Brien, with Moira Zellner, Amy Mueller (COE), and Michelle LaBoy (CAMD), the Common SENSES (Standards for Enacting Sensor Networks for an Equitable Society) project received substantial funding from the National Science Foundation and won The American Institute of Architects’ prestigious Latrobe Prize. The interdisciplinary project, centered in Chelsea, MA, seeks a new process for developing community-led, science-driven climate resilience. The Henry Luce Foundation provided major grants to two CSSH faculty: to Elizabeth Bucar for “Race, Social Justice, and Public Scholarship: A Series of Workshops on the What, Why, and How” and to Ellen Cushman for “Expanding and Assessing DAILP (Digital Archive of Indigenous Language Persistence)”. Laura Kuhl received support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for “Energy Justice Transformation after Crisis: Lessons from Puerto Rico for the Mainland United States.” Supported by the National Science Foundation, Ron Sandler (with co-PIs John Basl, Sina Fazelpour, Chad Lee-Stronach, and Kathleen Creel) will develop an intensive 10-week summer AI and data ethics training and mentoring program for doctoral students.  

We are also thrilled to celebrate recent faculty awards. K.J. Rawson, Associate Professor of English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and director and founder of the Digital Transgender Archive, is The History Project’s 2022 Lavender Rhino Award honoree. And Heather Streets-Salter, Professor of History, received the Pioneers in World History Award (the organization’s highest honor) at the June 2022 annual meeting of the World History Association.  

CSSH faculty continue to shape public discourse in new and interesting ways. On the topic of climate change, the new Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Maria Ivanova, is featured by News@Northeastern for the role she’s playing in a treaty to end global plastic pollution. Associate Teaching Professor of History Malcolm Purinton has also garnered attention for his unusual role as a “beer scholar.” We encourage you to explore more of our faculty stories and op-eds on the CSSH website. 


Upcoming Events 

As the fall semester gets underway, we are looking forward to hosting many important conversations at in-person and hybrid events. Sponsored by the Office of the Dean and the Humanities Center, the CSSH Faculty Works-in-Progress series returns beginning September 19 with a conversation with Moira Zellner and Dan O’Brien on “Pursuing Community-Led, Science-Driven Climate Resilience and Wellbeing: A New Frontier for the Boston Area Research Initiative.”  

On September 29, the Africana Studies Program will sponsor a screening of the Haitian film FREDA, which follows the life of a young woman challenged with the difficult choice to either leave her home or seek change within it. After the film, Africana Studies Director Régine Jean-Charles will talk with the film’s director Gessica Généus. As part of SPPUA’s fall Myra Kraft Open Classroom on “Environment and Justice in the Human Landscape,” the Dukakis Center will co-host a two-day conference on November 4 and 5. The course and conference are connected with an exhibition on the same theme at the Leventhal Map & Education Center. As always, please visit our Events page to discover more about upcoming speakers, film screenings, and other conversations taking place within CSSH. 


Mai’a Cross, Jim Rollins, the CSSH Advisory Council on Civic Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion, and I look forward to engaging the college community on a new strategic plan for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging during the course of this academic year. You can see reports on much of the ongoing work of the college and its units on this page

I wish all of us a successful fall semester, and I look forward to what we will learn and accomplish together! 

With best wishes, 

Uta Poiger 
Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities 

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