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Jennie C. Stephens

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For Jennie Stephens, new director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, expanding communication about the diversity of the School’s impactful educational and research efforts is a priority.

Stephens, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, was appointed director of the School effective May 1, 2018. Her research, teaching, and community engagement focus on social and political aspects of the renewable energy transition and responses to climate change.

Here, Stephens shares her vision for the School and explains her plan to enhance SPPUA’s role in partnerships with the public and private sectors, as well as academia.


Q: What is your vision for the School, and what would you like it to look like in five years?

A: I envision multiple opportunities for harnessing the strengths of the School to expand our reach and impact locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. In five years, I would like to see growth in SPPUA’s existing and new degree programs — at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I would also like SPPUA to have a more diverse and international set of educational offerings including short courses, certificates, executive education, and other professional development experiences. I am excited about the opportunities for expanding SPPUA’s innovative applied research through partnerships, collaborations, and our growing networks of alumni.


Q: How will you enhance the School’s role in partnerships with the public and private sectors, and academia?

A: Given the breadth and depth of SPPUA expertise and programs, there are many exciting opportunities for enhancing our partnerships with the public and private sectors. For example, we are exploring new fellowships to support students conducting research for partnering organizations, and new innovative ways for faculty to partner and collaborate. I am also looking forward to working closely with the SPPUA Advisory Committee, and I plan to expand and diversify the Advisory Committee to create new and broader connections and partnerships. Within SPPUA, I will build on my experience facilitating partnerships and collaborations within Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute.


Q: What makes the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs unique?

A: The School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs is a unique school within Northeastern because it has opportunities to connect and collaborate across the university. Through our research centers—including the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, the Boston Area Research Initiative, the Resilient Cities Lab, and the Social Impact Lab—our faculty engage in cutting-edge, applied research that crosses disciplinary boundaries and shapes the world. Our students feel part of a community that challenges them to undertake rigorous research projects and create innovative new approaches to local and global issues. We have a growing set of international exchange opportunities. And our staff are committed to providing exceptional services to students, alumni, and faculty. I look forward to engaging with our networks, continuing to make new and valuable connections among our alumni and public, private, and nonprofit organizations. From our innovative master’s programs, to our unique PhD program, to our multiple undergraduate offerings, SPPUA continues to expand its reach.

Stephens is director of strategic research collaborations at Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute. Click here to learn more about her research interests


Published On: May 8, 2018