Report from the dean
Leading scholars and teachers in the social sciences in the 21st century.
In 2005, I received an invitation to attend a meeting sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The University of California campuses had just banded together to start the first Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) in the social sciences, and the leaders of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBES) Directorate at NSF wished to gauge the interest of other institutions in forming alliances. Within a few months, the Social Sciences Division joined with counterparts at six other universities to form the Great Lakes Alliance for the Social and Behavioral Sciences (GLASS). Originally founded in 1998 to serve the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, today the AGEP program seeks to “increase the number of underrepresented minority students receiving doctorates in STEM and SBES disciplines” and “increase the number of underrepresented minorities in faculty positions in STEM and SBES departments at colleges and universities.” GLASS has pursued these objectives with joint events serving all seven schools—UChicago plus Northwestern, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, and Temple—and specific programs on each campus. In one of our first alliance events, the Social Sciences Division organized a one-day academic publishing workshop featuring the Temple University Press director, a University of Chicago Press editor, the American Journal of Sociology editor (from UChicago), the Personality and Social Psychology Review editor (from Northwestern), and faculty authors. Our students and faculty also participated in annual GLASS conferences focused on research presentations and professional development. On our campus, since 2005, an AGEP grant has supported multiple activities for underrepresented minority students (and others), including opportunities to pursue research collaborations with faculty, a preterm mathematics review course (which I teach), and an innovative seminar devised by the professional writing program, the Little Red Schoolhouse, to train students to revise papers for publication. Its heart and soul, however, has been our SBE Task Force, a dedicated group of a half dozen senior underrepresented minority students who peer mentor their junior colleagues, lead events to orient and socialize new doctoral students, and give valuable advice to me, dean of students Patrick Hall, and the leaders of the doctoral programs. With their help, we have learned a lot about how we can better support the efforts of underrepresented minority graduate students, whose numbers have increased steadily over the past ten years. As I write, we and our GLASS partners are anxiously awaiting a new NSF call for proposals for the next iteration of the AGEP program. Anticipating its contents, we have also been in touch with the deputy provost for research and minority issues, William McDade, and his staff, and with our colleagues in the Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences Divisions. We hope that NSF will come forward with a strong commitment to the program, and we certainly plan to put forth an ambitious response. Regardless of the outcome, the Social Sciences Division will apply the lessons learned to prepare our underrepresented minority students even better to take their places as leading scholars and teachers in the social sciences in the 21st century, an objective that is important not only to them but also to the Division, to the University, and to our society. John Mark Hansen, dean