December 8, 2022

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New BU Center for Innovation in Social Science Will Promote Collaborative Research and Teaching | BU Today

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Center designed to offer “one-stop shopping” for faculty looking to pursue multidisciplinary research projects and team teaching

BU boasts renowned faculty in the social sciences, from economics to history. But collaborating with each other can be hard.

“There has not been a single, crosscutting, coordinating center that helps to foster multidisciplinary research initiatives, team teaching, and externally funded research,” says Deborah Carr, a College of Art & Sciences professor of sociology. Now, she’s in a position to do something about that.

Carr is the founding director of the newCAS Center for Innovation in Social Science, which she calls “a one-stop shopping point” for the BU community to learn about social science research, events, education programs, internships, media coverage, and collaboration opportunities, among other matters.

The center is among the “cornerstone initiatives” of the CAS Strategic Plan for Arts & Sciences—another is writing the charter for an expanded BU Center for the Humanities, now four decades old—developed during the last year, says Stan Sclaroff, dean of Arts & Sciences. The plan was developed by a dozen-member task force—including Carr and spanning social science disciplines—charged with “defining a vision for the ‘next generation’ of the social sciences broadly across the college,” Sclaroff says.

“These initiatives consolidate our strengths in these areas, which lie at the heart of our University and the college,” Sclaroff adds. The new social sciences center “aims to position and enhance Boston University as an internationally recognized leader in innovative social science research, training, and public engagement.”


There has not been a single, crosscutting, coordinating center that helps to foster multidisciplinary research initiatives, team teaching, and externally funded research.

Deborah Carr

The center—which will be on the fifth floor of 704 Commonwealth Ave., in a few months, following renovations—invites faculty members to apply to be affiliates, who will coordinate small groups based on common research interests and needs, “such as writing groups or methodological consultations,” Carr says. 

In what will surely cheer affiliates, the center will hire a grants administrator within the next year to help them apply for federal, foundation, and outside funding. “My hope,” Carr says, “is that this support will enable our faculty to focus on the science, and leave the budget and administrative details to a dedicated expert.”

The center will also help matchmake faculty with potential teaching and research partners. An early example will be a meet-and-greet later this fall with leaders of BU statistical data initiatives, such as BU Spark! the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences, and MSSP Consulting

“Social science faculty researching topics ranging from sustainability to economic inequality who are looking for new data resources, novel methods, or statistical consulting to support their work will meet with experts who can serve as partners,” Carr says. They’ll also find potential “real-world” projects for undergraduate students to work on.

Meanwhile, the statistical data groups will benefit from learning about potential research that could give their faculty and students the chance to work on important social issues, she says.

Seed money for the center came from, among other sources, CAS and the Office of the Provost. The center envisions seeking additional support from private donors, foundations, and other grant agencies, Sclaroff says. 

Faculty can sign up for the center’s mailing list here

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New BU Center for Innovation in Social Science Will Promote Collaborative Research and Teaching

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