Dear members of the CSSH community,
I hope that this newsletter finds you well and that you are having a good end of the semester. For me, serving in the role of interim dean of CSSH this semester has been an absolute privilege. The best part has been gaining a broader perspective on the incredible research and learning that occur throughout our college every single day and to which you all contribute. There is so much creativity, generosity, effort, expertise, and collaboration that goes into realizing the Experiential Liberal Arts, I regret that in this newsletter we are only able to represent a fraction of what you all have done and accomplished this semester.
I have also been enormously impressed with how our CSSH community has responded to events in the world. The Israel-Hamas war has deeply affected many members of our community and has generated robust political and academic discourse on campus. In this context (as in all contexts!), it is crucial that we reaffirm our commitment to the equal worth of all people and the value of human experience in all its forms. In this context (as in all contexts!), we must also reaffirm our commitment to free inquiry and collaborative discourse. We aim to understand the world—that is our academic mission—which is why we open ourselves to considering perspectives other than our own and recognize that we all always have more to learn.
In this newsletter, we look back on some of the accomplishments and triumphs of these past months. However, on a more somber note, we also mourn the recent loss of our CSSH colleague, Ángel David Nieves, Dean’s Professor of Public and Digital Humanities, Professor of Africana Studies and History, and Director of the Humanities Center. Ángel’s dedication and contributions to our community were immense. He was an innovative researcher, an administrative leader, a selfless mentor, an advocate for justice and equity, and a fierce ally for his students and colleagues. He will be deeply missed. There will be opportunities to gather and celebrate Ángel’s life and legacy when we come back together in the new year.
Fall Event Reflections
This fall, our college convened events on significant cultural and societal topics, such as “The Peril and Promise of AI in World Politics,” an expert panel on AI’s impact on global governance and the launch for the Center for International Affairs and World Cultures; the East Coast premiere of and panel discussion on The Oath of the Sword, a newly discovered and restored early twentieth-century Asian-American film; “50 Years of Africana Studies to Build a Better World,” a guest lecture celebrating the 50th anniversary of Africana Studies at Northeastern University; and “Remember! Asian Americans and the Archive,” a symposium hosted by the Asian American Studies program, which brought together scholars, student activists, and community organizers to think about the politics of the archive.
Two new year-long cultural studies event series premiered began this semester. The speaker series Latinxs & Comedy hosted its first three discussions. Upcoming conversations will feature Latinx scholar Frances Negrón-Muntaner in February and actress/comedian Xazmin Garza in March. Rethinking Korea: New Perspectives on a Critical Region also hosted its first three speaker events. Additional conversations will take place in the spring semester, exploring de/militarized ecologies, security and economy, and geopolitical tensions.
There are many more exciting CSSH events to look forward to in the spring. The bell hooks Symposium, a continuation of the conversation that began in 2022 from the Africana Studies program, will be offered in two locations in our campus network. The first event, “Black Feminist Worldmaking,” will take place in February in Boston. A second symposium, “Education as the Practice of Freedom: The Black Feminist Classroom” will be held in March in Oakland.
In response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, the Center for International Affairs and World Cultures, as part of its Crisis Conversations Series, hosted a series of moderated discussions with Northeastern faculty experts to provide context, foster learning, and promote dialogue. Conversation topics included: “Issues of International Law and Human Rights for Palestinians and Israelis,” featuring Law and International Affairs Professor Zinaida Miller; “Jewish History, Jewish Responses,” featuring History Professor Simon Rabinovitch and Jewish Studies Director Lori Lefkovitz; and “Gaza in Historical Context,” featuring History Professor Ilham Khuri-Makdisi.
Our faculty, staff, and graduate students continue to advance knowledge through innovative research. Here are just a few notable examples:
Mapping Black London, co-led by English and Africana Studies Professor Nicole Aljoe, was recently profiled in NGN Magazine. The project continues to unearth and showcase the lives of Black Londoners from 1560 to 1840, discovering over 3,000 records of people of color in the region. A few dozen of these figures are currently featured in “Forgotten Lives,” a London Metropolitan Archives exhibit on display until March 2024.
Professor Alicia Sasser Modestino, Research Director for the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, spoke to Northeastern Global News on her new policy brief exploring the effectiveness and equity of the Boston Youth Summer Jobs Program, which connects low-income marginalized youth with job opportunities and career skills.
David Lazer’s research on political news algorithms was also featured in a Northeastern Global News story about his collaborative research on the spread of misinformation during the 2020 election season. His findings revealed how content was tailored on social media platforms based on political party affiliation, pointing to implications for the 2024 election cycle.
You can find more information on some of the major research grants awarded this semester to CSSH scholars in our Endnotes.
Student and Faculty Recognition
Our students and faculty continue to be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to knowledge.
Maria Ivanova, Professor and Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, received the Green Global Mentor award at Climate Week NYC. Provided through the Green Mentors program, this award celebrates Professor Ivanova’s leadership in global environmental governance.
Sterns Trustee Professor of History and Global Studies Kris Manjapara’s new book, Black Ghost of Empire: the Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation, was featured on the 2023 British Academy Book Prize shortlist.
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, received an James Russell Lowell Prize honorable mention from the Modern Language Association of America for her book Looking for Other Worlds: Black Feminism and Haitian Fiction.
Mary Raines Alexander (BA International Affairs ’26) and Jenia Browne (BA International Affairs ’24) were the inaugural “Flemister Fellow” recipients of the Zandra I. Flemister ’73 Trailblazer Fund. The two were recognized for their accomplishments as leading students in international affairs.
Isabel Geisler, who successfully defended her Sociology dissertation this semester, received a Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF). The PMF Program is the federal government’s flagship leadership development program for advanced degree holders across all academic disciplines. It was established 45 years ago by executive order and has gone through changes over the years, but the essential mission remains the same: to recruit and develop a cadre of future government leaders drawn from all segments of society.
My role as Interim Dean will be coming to an end next spring, with the exciting arrival of incoming Dean Kellee Tsai. Until then, I look forward to continuing our collective work to advance CSSH’s Experiential Liberal Arts mission and on strengthening our community through inclusion and belonging.
I wish you all a restorative and relaxing winter break.
Interim Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities