Emory College appoints faculty committees on new and emerging growth areas

By Nancy Seideman | Emory Report | Sep. 14, 2012

Emory College of Arts and Sciences has announced the implementation of a multi-year plan designed to enhance areas of distinction, transform areas of excellence into areas of eminence, and allocate resources to invest in important new and emerging growth areas.

The plan calls for investment in traditional strengths of the arts and sciences, including departments across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and in new, interdisciplinary areas of instruction and inquiry, including contemporary China studies, digital and new media studies, and neurosciences. The plan also calls for revising current structures for supporting research and teaching that cross disciplines, as well as reexamination of how science is taught in the undergraduate classroom.

“We must create more effective and supportive mechanisms for our faculty who are engaging in the sort of interdisciplinary and interdepartmental scholarship that is not well supported by our existing infrastructure,” says Emory College Dean Robin Forman.

“While we must continue to improve the undergraduate experience in all regards, we need to focus our attention especially on undergraduate science education, and the recent research demonstrating the effectiveness of new approaches to teaching science that have the potential for improving student success in significant and measurable ways.” This follows investments in core literacies of Emory College, including the first-year health curriculum, courses in quantitative methods, and the teaching of writing.

By taking decisive action now to enhance creativity and innovation in both scholarship and teaching, Emory College will guarantee its place as a leading voice in higher education, ensuring a world-class education for its students, the leaders of the century to come, says the dean.

Forman has appointed faculty members to lead committees in five areas with the goal of developing strategies for strengthening the ECAS over the next 5-7 years. Emory College expects to invest in each of these areas both through reallocation and new investment:

  • The Study of Contemporary China, Rick Doner (Department of Political Science)
    This committee will focus on enhancing faculty strength and educational opportunities in the study of contemporary China, both by building on existing faculty expertise and targeting areas for future growth across multiple departments.
  • Digital Studies and New Media Across the Arts and Sciences, Timothy Dowd (Sociology)
    As our global society becomes networked through new media, Emory has several departments on campus investing in the study of the impact of technology on the human condition. This committee will ask how to best create a coordinated effort that will have impact across Emory College’s curriculum. The committee will explore how to embrace and explore the role of digital media as a platform for artistic expression, as well as the growing role of social media in political and social dynamics.
  • Fostering Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Teaching, Laura Otis (English)
    Emory has been a leader in fostering interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, a fact that has played a central role in its success. At the same time, there is a need to revisit current structures for supporting research and teaching that crosses disciplines, and devise new ways of supporting research and teaching that crosses departmental and disciplinary boundaries, including doctoral education. Support for interdisciplinary work should be available for faculty and students across the college, no matter their departmental home.
  • Neuroscience: From Brain to Behavior, Dieter Jaeger (Biology)

    With an innovative major in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, as well as leading neuroscientists in both the ECAS and elsewhere in the University, Emory already stands among the leaders in neuroscience. Emory College seeks to build on those accomplishments, and find ways of connecting the resources that already are devoted to this field in ways that have greater impact, in both scholarship and pedagogy. The emphasis is on non-clinical applications of neuroscience that deepen understanding of the human condition and enrich the conversations taking place across the arts and sciences.
  • Enhancing the Undergraduate Science Experience, Cora MacBeth (Chemistry and the Laney Graduate School)
    Preparing scientifically literate citizens is one of the core missions of Emory College. The questions of both what Emory College teaches and how it’s taught in the undergraduate science classroom has been the subject of considerable research and debate in recent years. Based on the realization that aims in this arena will be best achieved with a coordinated effort that cuts across all science departments, this committee will work with that scholarship in order to understand what investments should be made to ensure that Emory College is providing its students the world-class education that they deserve.

In order to produce lasting, substantive effects on Emory College and the University, these strategies will be developed through faculty governance. It is equally important that Emory College plans to continue its investment through more traditional departments and disciplines, says Forman.

“What distinguishes each of these areas for new investments is that they cross several departments and sometimes even several schools, and that, even as these areas have been identified by faculty as foci of growing interest, multi-disciplinary and multi-departmental faculty leadership is required to provide coherent and compelling visions that will guide the evolution of Emory College.”