Initiatives

A launching pad for boundary-crossing ideas

Based on feedback and input from faculty, students, and other members of the UChicago community, the Division of the Social Sciences supports emerging programs that enrich and evolve the research and academic programs across departments, centers, and other units. Below are examples of current efforts:

 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

 

Established by division leadership to build upon the results of the May 2017 Report on Diversity and Equity in Faculty Life, the 2014 Report on the Status of Women in the Division, and the University’s Campus Climate Surveys, the Committee identifies and addresses specific issues within the Social Sciences for faculty, staff and graduate students. The committee plays a key role in creating a new diversity and inclusion plan, part of the campus-wide diversity initiative led by the Provost’s Office. Deputy Dean Mark Bradley is the committee convener. Committee membership is comprised of the following faculty: Cathy Cohen, Political Science; Susan Goldin-Meadow, Psychology; Faith Hillis, History; Eugene Raikhel, Comparative Human Development; Justin Richland, Anthropology; Matthias Staisch, Committee on International Relations for the MA programs; and Kristin Schilt, Sociology.

 

Teaching Fellows in the Social Sciences (TFSS)

A Program of Professional and Pedagogical Development

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

 

The Divisional Teaching Fellows Program is a competitive two-year program designed to enhance the pedagogical skills and extend research training for recent graduates of PhD programs in the Humanities or Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. The overall aim of the program is to foster a learning community in which Fellows explore effective teaching practices while continuing to advance their own research agenda.

 

Teaching Fellows are recent graduate students who have completed all requirements for the PhD within seven years of matriculation into a program in the Division of the Social Sciences. Individuals accepted to the program have demonstrated excellence in their original scholarship, as well as in teaching. The program provides guidance and support from multiple mentors on teaching, research, and ongoing professional development.

Current FELLOWS

David Ansari (Comparative Human Development)

David Ansari is a medical anthropologist with research and teaching interests at the intersections of health and human rights, transnational migration, health services research, and ethnographies of organizations. David’s dissertation, “'Dare to be a Future Therapist’: Uncertainty and Apprenticeship in Mental Health Services for Immigrants and Refugees in Paris, France," examined the experiences of clinical students as they learned to better support individuals with diverse migration trajectories. His next project will chart the development of new therapeutic approaches to address trauma and promote stability among refugees in France. As a teaching fellow, David will teach in the University of Chicago’s Human Rights and World Civilizations core. David will also teach undergraduate courses on the significance of language and culture in clinical and healing encounters, the impact of conflict and environmental degradation on forced migration, and the production of diasporas and transnational identities. David is committed to creating an intellectually stimulating and supportive atmosphere for his students, and often invites guests, such as an asylum attorney and journalists, to share their front-line perspectives with his students.

 

 

Amanda Blair (Political Science)

Amanda Blair specializes in comparative politics and gender studies. In her dissertation, "Going beyond accountability and untangling the politics of conflict-related rape," she interrogates current understandings of what counts as conflicted-related rape and examin​es​​ why rape is efficacious in particular contexts. And in her current project, "Coercive Consumption," she ​explores how armed conflict contributes to the development of sex economies and sex trafficking networks across Central and East Africa. Generally, Amanda's teaching and research interests include peace and conflict studies, gender studies, Sub-Saharan African politics, and research methods. She teaches introductory gender and sexuality studies, international studies, and social science research methods courses, as well as advanced courses, such as Sex, Gender, and War and Power, Violence, and the Global North/South Divide. 

 

Yung-Tsen Chen (Psychology)

Yung-Tsen Chen

Yung-Tsen Chen received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago in August 2018. She also holds an MS in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and a BS in Psychology from National Taiwan University. Prior to coming to the University, Yung-Tsen worked as a psychotherapist in psychology clinics with a specialization in adults and the elderly. Her dissertation, “Effect of Aging Stereotype Activation on Older Adults’ Memory and Neural Activity”, and continuing research investigate the impact of social and psychological factors on memory performance, the neural mechanisms of memory formation, and the differences between younger and older adults’ memory. As a Teaching Fellow, she teaches in the Psychology Department as well as the College’s Social Science Core Sequence “Mind.”

 

 

Andrea Ford (Anthropology)

Andrea Ford

Andrea Ford is a cultural and medical anthropologist who received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2017. She teaches in the Anthropology Department as well as the College's social science core sequence, "Power, Identity, and Resistance." Ford’s dissertation, "Near Birth: Gendered Politics, Embodied Ecologies, and Ethical Futures in Californian Childbearing," investigated the culture surrounding childbirth in California. Her research and teaching interests include the politics of childbirth and reproduction, California and the United States, gender and the body, utopia/dystopia, the future and the imagination, political economy, and the ecology of embodiment, toxicity, and multi-species interactions. Ford holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, an MA in African Studies from the University of Ghana, and an interdisciplinary BA in Anthropology, Sociology, and Religious Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to her academic work, she is a research fellow at the Frameworks Institute in Washington, DC, a writer for Stanford Medicine, and a full-spectrum doula and reproductive justice advocate.

 

Dominic Gibson (Psychology)

Dominic Gibson

Dominic Gibson received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2017. Prior to coming to the University, Dominic received a BA in Psychology from Wesleyan University in 2010 and worked in the Johns Hopkins Laboratory for Child Development. His dissertation, “Gesture’s Role in Bridging Symbolic and Nonsymbolic Representations of Number,” and ongoing work explore how children learn words and concepts, the origins of common misconceptions in mathematics, and research-based instructional strategies for improving children’s understanding of foundational math concepts. He has taught courses on cognitive development in Psychology, as well as in the Mind Social Science Core sequence.

 

Laura Horton (Comparative Human Development)

Laura Horton

Laura Horton is an interdisciplinary researcher who studies language emergence, language development and language socialization. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in Comparative Human Development and Linguistics in 2018. Her dissertation, "Conventionalization of Shared Homesign Systems in Guatemala: Lexical & Morpho-phonological Dimensions" is based on longitudinal fieldwork conducted with deaf children and families in Nebaj, Guatemala. Horton teaches in the Social Sciences Core and the Department of Comparative Human Development, with courses on language socialization; multilingualism, literacy and education; and language and cognition. Her ongoing projects include research on conversational repair and discourse strategies in interactions between homesigners and hearing interlocutors, as well as comparative analyses of the structure in child homesign systems and standard sign languages like American Sign Language (ASL) and Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL).

 

Justin Niermeier-Dohoney (History)

Justin Niermeier-Dohoney

Justin Niermeier-Dohoney specializes in the history of early modern science, natural and environmental history in England and the Atlantic world, the relationship between alchemy and the life sciences, and astrology, particularly in relation to early modern notions of climate and climate change. His dissertation, “A Vital Matter: Alchemy, Cornucopianism, and Agricultural Improvement in Seventeenth-Century England,” explored how agricultural reformers adopted vitalist matter theories and the operational techniques of alchemy in an attempt to transform husbandry into a more economically productive enterprise. Broadly speaking, his research revolves around questions about the practical and ethical concerns of using science to manipulate nature, the intersections of imperial expansion, capitalism, and science, and the historical origins of ecology, sustainability, and environmental management. He has taught a variety of courses covering Western Civilization, European Civilization, and the history of science, as well as several specialized courses on topics including the philosophy of Francis Bacon, natural history and colonialism, Western concepts of utopia, dystopia, and the apocalypse, and the extraterrestrial life debate. Justin lives in Chicago with his wife Carly and sons Wyatt and Emerson.

 

Séamus A. Power (Comparative Human Development)

Seamus Power

Séamus A. Power is a trans-disciplinary scholar with expertise in social, cultural, and political psychology. In one line of research he uses multiple methods to comprehend how people experience and understand economic inequality from a psychological perspective. In a second line of research, in conjunction with Professor Richard Shweder, he examines the scopes and limits of pluralism and the multicultural challenge in western liberal democracies. Power's third research area unites the previous two strands around the observation that countries with greater income equality tend to be less culturally diverse. This year, Power is teaching Political Psychology: Rallies, Riots, & Revolutions; Remembering & Imagining; and Methods That Matter in the Social Sciences. He received his PhD in Comparative Human Development from the The University of Chicago in 2017. He also holds a Masters in Philosophy in Social and Developmental Psychology from the University of Cambridge (2008) and a BSc in Applied Psychology from University College Cork (2006).

 

Robert Reamer (Political Science)

Robert Reamer

Robert Reamer is a political theorist trained in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His research interests broadly include critical theory, social theory, and comparative political economy. His dissertation project, "Reconstructing Capitalism: Constructivist Social Theory and Critical Political Economy,” draws on research in economic sociology and new materialist social theory in order to develop an alternative approach to the critique of contemporary neoliberalism: one attuned to creative reconstruction and the production of political possibilities. His additional research interests include pragmatist social theory, science and technology studies, and libertarian/anarchist strands of political thought. This year he is excited to be teaching in the Classics of Social and Political Thought core sequence. He also plans to offer an advanced course titled “Capitalism, Socialism, Anarchism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on States, Markets, and Justice" in the Spring quarter.

 

Adam Rowe (History)

Adam Rowe

Adam Rowe is a historian of the United States with a particular interest in national political culture from the Revolution to the late nineteenth century. His dissertation, “The Paradox of Union: The Civil War and the Transformation of American Democracy," considers how Republican leaders and intellectuals gradually embraced a new theory of their political system as they scrambled to save it during the Civil War. At a broader thematic level, Adam’s research has focused on the interface between intellectual and political history, tracing the unique combination of traditions, institutions, and beliefs, rooted in the colonial and European past, that ruptured abruptly in the crisis that ushered in the modern United States. He teaches America in World Civilization, a survey course on the United States in the 19th Century, as well more specialized courses on the novel in American history and the American Civil War. 

 

Erika Tschinkel (History)

Erika Tschinkel

Erika Tschinkel is an intellectual historian that received her PhD in History from The University of Chicago in 2018. Her dissertation, “The Just Enemy in a Time of Terror and Conflict,” analyzes and explores the significance and meaning of Carl Schmitt’s “just enemy” concept in order to talk about the perils of moralizing about war. Erika’s research and teaching interests include modern European intellectual history, modern European philosophy, especially social and political theory, and human rights and humanitarianism. She teaches in the Core sequence Power, Identity, Resistance, and in Spring 2019 will be teaching her own course entitled Modern European Intellectual History.

 

Sarita Zaffini

Sarita Zaffini is a political theorist with research interests in religion and politics. Her dissertation investigated the influences of theology on Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, with a specific focus on his concept of political representation and its parallels to Christological representation, an important doctrine debated in England during the 17th century. She is currently expanding this research into a larger archival project investigating the relationship between political and Christological representation during England’s Civil War era, and the shifting attitudes toward both that had enduring consequences for church and state in England and America. Sarita received her PhD from University of Chicago in 2018, and this year she is teaching courses on Revolutions and the Classics of Social and Political Thought.

 

 

Former Fellows

Guy Emerson Mount (History)

Guy Emerson Mount received his PhD in History from the University of Chicago in 2017. His research interests include slavery, emancipation, black internationalism, and American empire. Mount’s book manuscript, "The Last Reconstruction: Race, Nation, and Empire in the Black Pacific," analyzes the end of American slavery in conjunction with the birth of American overseas empire. Mount's work has been recognized by the Mellon Foundation, the Eisenhower Institute, and the American Historical Association. He was also part of the scholarly group that uncovered the University of Chicago's historical ties to slavery and is a cofounder of the Reparations at UChicago Working Group (RAUC), which is now studying this legacy further. As a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in 2018, Mount will teach Colonizations, Black Pacific, America in World Civilization, and A Global History of Reparations.

 

 

Daniel Nichanian (Political Science)

Daniel Nichanian is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences Division and a Lecturer in Political Science. His research and teaching interests lie in democratic theory, contemporary political theory, critical theory, and American political thought. At the University, he teaches a year-long course introducing undergraduate students to the history of political thought, as well as seminars in contemporary democratic theory and American political thought. Daniel is currently revising his book manuscript, "Seizing a Seat at the Table: Participatory Politics in the Face of Disqualification," that examines how people act to participate in the business of government in contexts where they are not recognized as having the requisite qualifications so. He completed his PhD in political theory in the Political Science Department of the University of Chicago in 2016. He also holds a BA from Yale University (summa cum laude, 2008) and a Master from Université Paris VII-Diderot (2010).

 

Nora Taplin-Kaguru (Sociology)

Nora Taplin-Kaguru received her PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago in December 2016. Her research and teaching interests include qualitative methods, inequality, urban sociology, race and the sociology of technology. More specifically, her current work investigates how African-American households make decisions about housing in the context of a racially segregated metropolitan region. She is working on a book based on this research, titled "Grasping for the American Dream: Racial Segregation, Residential Mobility and Homeownership." She teaches the Power, Identity, Resistance Social Science Core Sequence and Sociology of Social Media.

 

Basil Salem (History)

Basil Salem is a historian of the early modern and modern Middle East, focusing on the cultural and intellectual history of the region from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. He is currently turning his dissertation, "Beneath Biography: Attitudes toward Self, Society, and Empire among the Scholars of Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Damascus," into a book manuscript. His next project examines Arab identity from a transnational perspective in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a postdoctoral teaching fellow, Basil has taught in the University of Chicago's social science core program and has most recently designed and taught a cultural history course on scandal and the public sphere in Europe and the Middle East, titled, Scandal as Historical Document, Seventeenth to Twenty-First Centuries. In the Spring of 2018 he will be teaching a course titled, Philosophers, Mystics, and Revolutionaries: A Social History of the Poet in the Arab and Islamic Worlds.

Social Sciences Research Center (SSRC)

 

Opening in December 2017, the Social Sciences Research Center (SSRC) is designed to foster team-based and multi-method collaborative approaches to understanding complex social problems. In this way it will address the rapidly evolving, and growing needs for research infrastructure that exist across the social sciences and enable the Division to respond flexibly to new opportunities. The SSRC, located in McGiffert House, is comprised of open-concept research bullpens, collaborative spaces, and a large workshop room to bring together faculty and students from across the Division for research and programmatic activities. The Center will also provide a home for the Masters Program in Computational Social Science, and space for several core research centers, including The Center for Spatial Data Science, The Knowledge Lab, and the Population Research Center.

 

The SSRC will host regular workshops of faculty and students who use similar methods across disciplines, such as the Quantitative Research Methods in Social and Health Sciences Workshop, the Demography Workshop, the Ethnography Incubator, and the new Economy and Law Initiative. Further, the SSRC will host research development and methods training sessions, and will leverage the University’s other research facilities and support options, including the Research Computing Center, the Survey Lab, GIS support, and the Social Science Computing Center.

 

Meet the 2018 Seed Grant Recipients and learn more on the SSRC website.

 

Neubauer Collegium

Director: David Nirenberg discusses the idea behind the Neubauer Collegium

In an ambitious initiative designed to expand the boundaries of humanistic study, the University of Chicago has established The Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society.  The Collegium will create a destination for outstanding visiting scholars in the humanities and humanistic social sciences from around the nation and the world, who will come to collaborate with their peers in Chicago. It will fund research into large-scale questions that require the expertise and perspectives of many disciplines, while pioneering new efforts to share that work with a wider public.

Named in honor of Joseph Neubauer and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer, whose landmark $26.5 million gift to the University is among the largest in support of the humanities and social sciences in the institution’s history. The gift marks a new chapter in the Neubauer family’s history of innovative philanthropy in support of scholars and groundbreaking research, designed to make a lasting impact.  The Neubauers said their support for the Collegium stemmed from a desire to help humanists embrace new modes of inquiry.

“We want to see what humanists and social scientists can do when they are encouraged to and have the resources to set their sights on questions beyond their discipline,” says Joseph Neubauer, MBA ’65, a trustee of the University and Chairman of the Aramark corporation.

“Any time there has been a flowering of civilization, it is because great ideas have been tested, shared and disseminated widely,” Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer adds. “The Collegium has the potential to foster that kind of collaboration in our time.”

The Neubauer Collegium will be housed at 5701 S. Woodlawn in the former Meadville-Lombard Seminary building, and will begin operation during the 2012-2013 school year, with the first visiting scholars arriving in 2013-2014.

Workshops

There are currently no active workshops.

Becker Friedman Institute

Bob Lucas discusses the recession at the Friedman Forum

The Gary Becker Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics was established in June 2011, joining the strengths of the three-year-old Friedman Institute and the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory.

The Institute is an intellectual destination for the world’s best economists and scholars in related fields. It builds bridges across disciplines and subfields in economics, fostering conversations and collaborations that sharpen research and spark new ideas.

A collaboration of the University of Chicago Department of Economics, the Booth School of Business, and the Law School, the Institute provides multilayered support for the research activities of faculty and students. Its activities enhance the vibrant research environment that characterizes economics at the University of Chicago.

Related Links

Workshops

There are currently no active workshops.