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Dean’s Newsletter: Winter 2018

Dear Members of the CSSH Community

As this fall semester comes to a close, I wish you a happy and restful winter break. I hope you will take a few moments to reflect on the many ways in which students, faculty and staff are moving our college forward. Local and global engagement beyond the university is crucial to our Experiential Liberal Arts mission and to the contributions we make to Northeastern’s mission in Humanics, defined as the integration of technological, data and human literacies. It’s a pleasure to highlight a few key developments in these areas as part of this letter.

New College of the Humanities Partnership and Humanics Semester in London

CSSH and Northeastern are excited to debut the first Northeastern/New College of the Humanities (NCH) Semester in London in spring 2019, with an innovative program of study in “Data, Ethics, and Culture.” A cohort of eight Northeastern undergraduates will take up residence at NCH in January and take classes taught by NCH and Northeastern faculty, including Cultures of London, Technology and Human Values, and Programming with Data in the Social Sciences and Humanities, our innovative collaboration with the College of Computer and Information Science. Throughout their time in London, students will integrate computational skills with the ethical reasoning and intercultural competence fostered by study in the humanities. CJ graduate student Ieke DeVries will spend the semester teaching with the program at NCH. Ron Sandler, Director of the Northeastern Ethics Institute, and other CSSH colleagues are collaborating with Naomi Goulder and NCH colleagues on curriculum in Technology and Human Values and associated events.

This program is part of a new strategic partnership, recently announced to the university community by President Aoun, between Northeastern and NCH. Located in the historic intellectual hub of Bloomsbury, around the corner from the British Museum, NCH offers a liberal arts curriculum enhanced by a unique diploma in Applied Ethics, Critical Reasoning, and Science Literacy as well as an innovative LAUNCH program preparing students for engagement beyond the university.  We look forward to featuring the London adventures of our pioneering students in a future newsletter and to building this exciting partnership.


The highly contested mid-term elections in November were the occasion for the university’s first “pop-up” class, “Midterm Mayhem: Making Sense of the 2018 Elections,” a collaboration between CSSH and the College of Arts, Media, and Design. Pop-ups are offered in an immersive, interdisciplinary, short-course format to address time-sensitive trends, topics, and events as they unfold, giving students the opportunity to learn about and respond to current issues. With leadership from political science professor Costas Panagopoulos, a member of NBC’s “Decision Desk” team, and Aleszu Bajak, in the School of Journalism, “Midterm Mayhem” students practiced using data to analyze and visualize elections and produced their own data-supported opinion pieces.  You can read two of these op-eds—Sarah Whiteman (COS/CSSH) on voter suppression and Connor Holmes (Bouvé) on MA Ballot Question 1. We are delighted that political science professor Mai’a Cross will run another politics-focused pop-up this spring semester, on “Brexit,” in collaboration with our NCH colleagues. Stay tuned for details.

Plus-One Degrees

Increasing numbers of CSSH undergraduates pursue a PlusOne degree program.  PlusOne students begin Master’s-level work in the final semesters of the Bachelor’s degree, accelerating completion of the Master’s. This fall, twenty-one students in CSSH are enrolled in PlusOne programs from a range of majors: Criminal Justice, Economics, English, History, Human Services, International Affairs, Political Science, and Sociology/Anthropology. Many students deepen their studies in their undergraduate major, while others cross disciplines in their PlusOne programs. For example, Macarena Flores is working on her Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies while completing her B.A. in History. Macarena is bringing her Humanities training to a policy oriented master’s program. PlusOne programs are an exciting option for students to get a head start on advanced knowledge and professional readiness.

CSSH Faculty as Conveners

Our colleagues act as conveners for important academic conferences as well as symposia designed to bring together the public and private sectors on significant questions of our day. These gatherings model the integrative thinking on technology, data and cultural and policy questions that the 21stcentury demands. Over the summer, Elika Ortega Guzman co-chaired the program committee for the international Digital Humanities meeting held for the first time in Latin America. Under theme of “Puentes/Bridges,” the Mexico City conference organizers introduced innovative modes of translation and featured bilingual and trilingual panels, where DH2018 presenters from various regions interacted.

In October, Ted Landsmark, Director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, hosted “Closing the Gaps in a Just City.”Researchers, policy-makers, and community-based stake-holders shared initiatives designed to address economic and racial inequalities in transportation in Greater Boston. In late November, the director of CSSH programs at Northeastern University-Seattle, Ann Lesperance, brought together public and private sector leaders from the Pacific Northwest to discuss technology and policy opportunities and challenges facing the smart city evolution. For March 2019, the Global Resilience Institute (GRI) at Northeastern University and Social Finance US are organizing the first major summit to inform how the OpZone program, which provides tax incentives to funnel investments into 8,761 Opportunity Zones nationwide, should be leveraged to advance a national-scale effort to improve community and infrastructure resiliencePlease check our events page to see this and many other events that our colleagues are organizing for the Spring Semester.

External Grants and Research

It is an exciting time for research within the College. Our faculty and graduate students continue to receive many highly competitive and innovative grants and fellowships, and I am delighted to share a few of the recent awards. Liz Bucar, Philosophy and Religion, has received a four-year grant from the Luce Foundation; the Sacred Writes project will support training and partnerships among scholars of religion and media outlets to translate the importance of religious scholarship to a broader audience. New research projects have been funded this Fall to examine Transportation Use in Greater Boston (Dan O’Brien, SPPUA and SCCJ /BARI); Gender Equity Interventions in US Universities (Kathrin Zippel, Sociology); and Examining Probation and Parole (Shytierra Gaston, SCCJ) to name but a few. We are thrilled with the successes of our doctoral students including two NSF Awards (Yingchan Zhang and Tibrine Da Fonseca), a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship (Stephanie Clark-Reyna) and an NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship (Ieke DeVries). Finally, we continue to expand the ways that undergraduate students engage in research with faculty and research centers in the college through our Undergraduate Research Initiative and Northeastern University’s Undergraduate Office of Research and Fellowships.

We have much to celebrate in CSSH as we flip the calendar from 2018 to 2019. I hope that you have an energizing break and return to campus inspired to tackle challenges, effect change, and move CSSH and the Experiential Liberal Arts forward in the New Year!


Uta Poiger
Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities

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