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Dean’s Newsletter: Winter 2021

Dear CSSH faculty, staff, students, and friends:

As this fall semester comes to a close, I write to wish you a reenergizing and restorative winter break. I hope you will take a few moments to reflect on the many ways in which students, faculty, and staff – through our shared resilience and commitment – continue to push forward our Experiential Liberal Arts mission. Despite continued pandemic challenges, we have worked together in classrooms and with communities in Boston and around the world and celebrated many accomplishments along the way. 

Student Recognitions

Students and alumni from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) have been well represented in nominations for prestigious fellowships and awards. The university supported 15 CSSH applicants to the Fulbright programs, whose names you can view in our Endnotes. Drew Baldwin (International Affairs `21) and Nicole Naquin (Political Science `22) were nominated for the Schwarzman Scholarship, which funds a yearlong master’s course at Tsinghua University, one of China’s most highly regarded institutions of higher education.

Paula Soumaya Domit (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major, minor in international security studies `22) was nominated for the Marshall Scholarship and the Rhodes Scholarship for her research focused on human security and new technologies. She served as a major contributor to the Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP)’s 2020 “Artificial Intelligence and Democratic Values” report, an assessment of thirty countries’ policies related to artificial intelligence.

A winner of the George J. Mitchell Scholarship this year is CSSH alum Sarah Bernt (Political Science `19). The scholarship, sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance, will send Bernt for a year of study to Northern Ireland, where she will explore conflict resolution and reconciliation at Trinity College Dublin’s Belfast campus.

Many of our students and alumni were featured in News@Northeastern this semester for their groundbreaking work on and off campus. Ademidun Ajibade, an international affairs master’s student, sees human migration through a different lens after her co-op in the office of the ombudsman in Greece. Mohamed Abanoor, a criminal justice student, is planning to change what are often fraught interactions between police and deaf people by becoming an officer himself. Shannon Murphy, who studies international affairs and environmental studies, does important work on co-op as an outreach associate at the non-profit WorldBoston. Corey Bober (Criminal Justice `12) and his partner Zack Smith launched Jobble, an app that consolidates short-term contract work opportunities into one easy-to-use database in 2016. Today, Jobble has 45 employees, over 5 million users across the United States and over 14,000 partnerships with businesses that advertise job openings on the app.

Research Updates

Our faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students have continued to engage in important research projects and have received many highly competitive grants. I am delighted to share two examples.

David Lazer, university distinguished professor of political science and computer sciences, and co-director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks is leading a new effort, together with Christo Wilson, associate professor of computer sciences, David Choffnes, associate professor of computer sciences and executive director of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute, and Michelle Meyer, a bioethicist at Geisinger Health System, to build a research infrastructure that will provide scientists around the world and across disciplines with open, ethical, analytic information about how people behave online. This effort is supported by a $15.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation, and includes other Northeastern researchers such as John Basl, associate professor of philosophy.

The Northeastern University Library’s Digital Scholarship Group and the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks received a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the NEH’s American Rescue Plan program. The grant will help fund a series of digital projects currently underway through the DSG and NULab that were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will support efforts to conduct collaborative research, digitize and process archival materials, create metadata, increase web accessibility, and more, while supporting many graduate and undergraduate students’ research positions.

The projects that will benefit from this grant all involve collaborative engagement with communities outside of Northeastern, many focused on underrepresented groups and social justice efforts. These include:

You can view more recent grants and awards in our Endnotes.

Engaging the Public

CSSH faculty continue to engage with the public on important social challenges. Patricia Williams published the op-ed “How Not to Talk About Race” in The Nation. Jennie Stephens and Alaina Boyle wrote on “Michelle Wu’s Victory heralds a new age of climate politics” for The Hill. John Kwoka, Neal F. Finnegan Distinguished Professor of Economics, has been named Chief Economist to Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He will be working with competition economists and attorneys on an updated approach to merger review policies. 

Our faculty and students continued working during the fall semester toward social improvement around the globe. Laura Kuhl, assistant professor of public policy and urban affairs and international affairs, led a one-credit pop-up course through which students were official observers at the two-week UN climate summit, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. Students from Intermediate German II, led by Carolin Fuchs, participated in a virtual intergenerational exchange program with elders in Hamburg, Germany. K.J. Rawson, Associate Professor of English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Coordinator of the Digital Integration Teaching Initiative (DITI), works closely with students in building Homosaurus, an international linked data vocabulary of LGBTQ+ terms that is backed by a Tier 1 grant from Northeastern, and the Digital Transgender Archive (DTA), housed at Northeastern, that makes historical materials about the trans experience available.

Events Past and Future

Colleagues and students from CSSH are organizing events and series for reflections on past, present and future for Northeastern’s global campus. The Asia America and the World series, which throughout the fall semester has addressed critical issues confronting Asian American communities from a global or transnational perspective, continues with events in February and March 2022. The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs’s Open Classroom will return in the spring semester with the theme “Power to the People: Community Voices in Urban Decision-Making.”

Northeastern’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week begins April 4 with a presentation by Gideon Klein Scholar Zach Richmond on “Syncopating Freedom: How the Third Reich Used Jazz to Delude a Free Experience”, which will include a musical performance. The 29th Robert Salomon Morton Lecture will feature University of Ottawa historian Jan Grabowski, who specializes In Jewish-Polish relations and the Holocaust in Poland during World War II.

The next event in the series Conflict, Civility, Respect, Peace will take place on February 3 and will feature Northeastern scholars as well as distinguished alumni, including Joseph Murray, World Federation of the Deaf ( President, and Opeoluwa Sotonwa, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in a conversation about Deaf culture, race, and ability.

Look here for regular updates on CSSH events planned for the Spring semester.

I thank each of you for your hard work, collaboration, and creativity. I hope that you are able to take a real break, and return inspired to tackle challenges, effect change, and move CSSH and the Experiential Liberal Arts forward in the new year! Be safe!


Uta Poiger
Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities

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