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Dean’s Newsletter: June 2023

Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, and Friends of CSSH:

At the end of every academic year, we take joy in the accomplishments of the students, faculty, and staff who personify our Experiential Liberal Arts mission. I write this newsletter with much optimism, as I reach the end of my astonishing and fulfilling years as Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH). I know that CSSH will be in excellent hands with Interim Dean Ron Sandler and all of you!

Last month, it was wonderful to celebrate the CSSH Classes of 2023 with families, friends, colleagues, Provost Madigan, and the Dean’s Strategy Council at Matthews Arena—the eleventh graduating class graduating under my tenure. Our student speakers—Victor Hugo Mendevil (English ’23), Adam Scanlon (MPA ’23), Drefnie Limprevil (Political Science ’23), and Bianca Yeager (History, Culture, and Law ’23)—served as a powerful reminder of the accomplishments of our graduating student body and their capacity to lead change as they go out into the world.

Professors Streets-Salter and Bosso lead the student procession.
Megha Prasad, Political Science & Business Administration ’23
Mohamad Abnoor, Criminal Justice ’23

We were inspired by the poetry reading from Jesica Bak (Political Science and English ’23) and electrified by the remarks of our 2023 Celebration Speaker, Jodi Rosenbaum, Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit More Than Words. Since 2004, she has grown More than Words into a major social enterprise that has helped hundreds of system-involved youth to take charge of their lives through skills and leadership building. Many thanks to the staff from CSSH and the university who supported the event. It was indeed a most auspicious occasion!

CSSH Dean Uta Poiger; Celebration Speaker Jodi Rosenbaum of More Than Words; Provost David Madigan
Alice Chinebuah, member of the CSSH Dean’s Strategy Council, presents the diploma to her daughter Crystal Keziah Chinebuah, Criminal Justice and Psychology ‘23

CSSH at 13

Earlier in April, we had the chance to not only celebrate the accomplishments of our faculty and staff, but those of our college’s history at our CSSH at 13 event. We welcomed and applauded winners of our Outstanding Teaching Awards and inaugural Excellence in Work to Foster Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Awards. Our staff, without whom many of these accomplishments would not be possible, were recognized with Outstanding Staff Awards, including Jennifer Akula, Director of College Research Administration; Sarah Connell, Associate Director of NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks and the Women Writers Project; Janet-Louise Joseph, Administrative Officer in Political Science; Jennifer Lobisser, Administrative Specialist for English; and Sally Solomon, Senior Coordinator of Student Support.

With a display of posters and remarks from members of the college and the university, we also looked back on the first 13 years of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, for the majority of which I’ve had the pleasure of serving as dean. We of course look forward to many bright years ahead for this college and its members.

School of Law Dean James Hackney speaks at CSSH at 13!

Our Impressive Students and Community

There is so much be proud of in the scholarly and creative achievements of our community. For example, Emerson Johnston (Politics, Philosophy, Economics and History, Culture and Law ’23) received a Knight-Hennessy Scholars fellowship, which will allow her to pursue a master’s degree at Stanford University this fall. Additionally, Emerson received the Hodgkinson Award, one of Northeastern’s highest honors for graduating seniors. (As it happens, the two interdisciplinary bachelor’s degrees that Emerson completed were introduced during my time as dean.) Equally impressive, Amara Ifeji (Political Science ’24) was named a 2023 Harry S. Truman Scholar for her work as a conservationist and social activist. Andrew Small (Asian Studies ’23) was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to continue his work researching disaster preparedness and resilience in Japan. He is joined by two other CSSH majors and alumni who received Fulbright awards this Spring: Saoirse McNally (Human Services and Criminal Justice ’23) and Zaneta Sulley (Criminal Justice and Sociology ’22). In the entertainment world, Taylor Valley (PhD Political Science) shone on YouTube, earning a nomination for best supporting actress in a comedy at the Indie Series Awards, which highlights web-based content.

CSSH students continue to make an impact around the world on their co-op assignments. Paris Graff (International Affairs ’25) is currently on co-op with the Landmine Relief Fund, which supports the removal of landmines and unexploded ordnance and raises awareness of the persistent issues caused by these weapons on the people of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Zachary Greenwald (Politics, Philosophy and Economics ’24) went to Serbia in January for a co-op at the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies in Belgrade to advocate for the use of nonviolent resistance in the promotion of human rights and democracy worldwide.

Please read more about our long list of student accomplishments in this issue’s Endnotes.

A Vision for Civic Sustainability and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in CSSH

Just this past week, we introduced our new Strategic Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging to all CSSH communities. The ambitious plan commits the CSSH community to important action steps as well as accountability on these steps. It is the result of a two-semester process of consultations in our community and a doubling down on our efforts at civic sustainability. It will succeed if each of us engages with courage and collaboratively in the work that the plan outlines.  

Earlier this year, CSSH launched our Excellence in Work to Foster Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Award. Our inaugural winners, Megha Prasad (Political Science & Business Administration ’23); Kelliann Henry, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Student Engagement; and 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, all exemplify the work necessary to make commitments to DEIB a tangible reality for our community.

Winners of the Outstanding Teaching Awards, Outstanding Staff Awards, and inaugural CSSH DEIB awards (names listed above)
CSSH faculty Silvia Prina, Nishith Prakash, and Aleksandra Jakubowski
CSSH faculty Rebecca Riccio, Régine Jean-Charles, and Maria Ivanova

Our Accomplished Faculty

CSSH faculty members lead in their fields by intertwining research, education, and partnering beyond the university. As we do every spring, we have collected faculty accomplishments in one place, including published books, major articles, and fellowships, awards, and honors, and significant research grants. Our growing CSSH research includes interdisciplinary, community-partnered and student-involved efforts in digital health and humanities, climate change and participatory environmental monitoring, social and racial justice, the ethics of computing and artificial intelligence, just to name a few areas of excellence.

Mai’a Cross became a lifetime member on the Council on Foreign Relations, Carlos Cuevas was elected President of the Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association, and Natasha Frost was elected Vice President of the American Society of Criminology. Following Elizabeth Dillon and Philip Thai, who were Radcliffe Fellows this past year, Jennie Stephens will start a fellowship at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute to work on a book that will reimagine the role of universities in reducing climate injustice and accelerating the global fossil fuel phaseout. Sina Fazelpour was named an Early Career Fellow by Schmidt Futures, which comes with funding to pursue an “Integrated Prescriptive Framework for Human-AI Collaboration.”

The Northeastern community has also recognized the accomplishments of our faculty. For example, Laura Kuhl was one of two recipients of the University Excellence in Teaching Award. Alicia Sasser Modestino was one of two recipients of the university’s inaugural Global Network Accelerator Award. On behalf  of Black Artists of Boston, a collaboration between artists, students, faculty, and staff, Ángel NievesDoreen Lee, and Reckonings Community Liaison Dzidzor Azaglo, recently accepted Northeastern’s Community Collaboration Award.

Our faculty and students continue to contribute to important dialogues. Ted Landsmark and his defiance of white supremacy captured in an iconic photograph from 1976 was featured on CBS Sunday Morning under the headline “Weaponizing the American flag as a tool of hate.”  Jeffrey Lamson’s op-ed “Police Cars are a Form of PR—and the Message is Always the Same” was published in the Washington Post earlier this spring.

Our faculty create important frameworks for intellectual exchange both on campus and for the broader public. Now in its second year, the Asia America and the World series (also known as After Area Studies) brought a new round of conversations with distinguished scholars on transpacific history, media, race, critical refugee studies and visual culture led by Doreen Lee and Denise Khor. The annual Women’s History Month Symposium, led by Suzanna Danuta Walters, looked at the climate crisis, censorship, and abortion rights through feminist lenses. The Center on Crime, Race, and Justice, led by Carlos Cuevas and Natasha Frost, organized with its community advisory board a conversation to reflect on the impact of police violence on community mental health following the murder of Tyre Nichols.

CSSH in Northeastern’s Global Network

Northeastern’s global footprint continues to expand, providing CSSH’s faculty, students, and staff new opportunities for partnerships across the country and beyond.

Alicia Sasser Modestino (Boston campus) and Carrie Maultsby-Lute (Mills College, Northeastern Oakland) recently launched Community to Community (C2C), a program which uses research to confront difficult problems and develop long-term solutions based on the needs of the community. Supported by Northeastern’s inaugural Network Accelerator Award, Community to Community will engage scholars in research on racial and economic disparities across a wide variety of areas including racial reparations, criminal justice, climate justice, gentrification, immigrant legal services, healthcare and workforce development.

The new Arlington campus enables us to engage graduate students seeking to build their skills in a number of different fields. The Master of Public Policy emphasizes the analysis of data and other relevant information and enables students to assess public problems, develop appropriate policy responses, and evaluate program effectiveness. Similarly, the Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies provides skills in data analysis, leadership, and systemic thinking to help the next generation of leaders build organizations, communities, and societies that can withstand forthcoming challenges.

Meanwhile, our Seattle campus features our Master of Economics + Data Science program, which provides a solid foundation in economic theory and quantitative methods.

In March, we held a cross-campus (and cross-Atlantic!) virtual event that brought together faculty from the Boston campus and Northeastern University – London on best practices in community and partner-engaged teaching. Featuring Mark Martin and his new book My Teaching Routine, it was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our pedagogy and its theoretical and practical applications.

That same month Tim Brown led a collaboration with our colleagues in California at the Mills College campus. Carlos Alvarez Pereira, Vice President of the Club of Rome and co-editor of the 50th Anniversary reappraisal of the Club of Rome’s original report—Limits and Beyond: 50 Years on from The Limits to Growth, what Did We Learn and What’s Next?—offered a lecture followed by a half-day workshop to discuss questions related to the lecture’s guiding provocation: “How to learn what we already know.”

We have reached the end of another successful academic year filled with accomplishments from our students, faculty, and staff, and thought-provoking, engaging events. I urge you to visit our Recent Events playlist on YouTube to watch recordings from many of our events during the past year.

Next Steps

I will very much draw on my experiences as your dean as I take on my new role as Special Advisor for Humanics to Provost Madigan. In this position, I look forward to collaborating with colleagues, students, and partners across the Northeastern global network to build curricular innovations that integrate human, data, and technological capacities with community engagement. I will also continue to participate in the Reckonings project, which seeks to empower BIPOC communities and citizens in the preservation, creation, and curation of community histories. This week, we are running our first Reckonings Summer Institute on Social Justice and Community Archiving. Led by Ángel Nieves and Dorothy Kim, it brings over thirty community members and college teachers for five days of co-creation to the Boston campus. Further, with School of Law Dean James Hackney, I will continue to co-chair Northeastern’s Presidential Council on Diversity and Inclusion. All this is to say, I look forward to interacting with you in familiar and new contexts.

History PhD students and Reckonings co-creators Victoria Dey and Hunter Moskowitz

It is a bit bittersweet to reach the end of my final dean’s newsletter and my time as your dean. However, I look with fondness and pride at all we have accomplished together. And I look forward to supporting the social sciences, policy work, and the humanities—and their collaborations with others—in new ways. Congratulations to all of us in CSSH on a successful academic year 2022/23, and a successful 13 years as a college!

And many thanks for all the contributions you have made and will continue to make to our Experiential Liberal Art mission!


Uta Poiger
Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities

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Dean’s Newsletter: Fall 2023

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Dean’s Newsletter: Winter 2023