This is an exciting time for the social sciences at Indiana University.
Our campus already enjoys a commitment to continually advancing our understanding of critical aspects of social, economic, and political life. IU’s excellence is evidenced both by the high quality of our research and the external recognition of our graduate training. Our strong foundation in social sciences is rooted in such departments as economics and sociology, both in the College of Arts and Sciences, which trace their roots to 1886. Just last March, the Department of Political Science celebrated its first centennial of scholarly activities.
Building upon this rich heritage, the social sciences stand ready to play a more prominent role on campus with the potential to make major contributions in support of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for IU Bloomington and other campus initiatives.
The visibility of the social sciences is often hampered by the sheer size of this university and the large number of germane units distributed across different schools. There is a need for solutions that will bring people together and foster new collaborations, and I am happy to report three majors steps in that direction in my position as director of the Ostrom Workshop.
- First, Provost Robel charged the Ostrom Workshop with development of a strategic plan that incorporates a new role as a focal point for research that benefits all social sciences on campus. Our 2015-2018 strategic plan is shaped around a governance-based research agenda building upon the intellectual legacy of Vincent and Elinor Ostrom. A typical response to our outreach efforts as we prepared and sought feedback on our strategic plan this past year was: “Thanks for reaching out.” We have established support across campus from a broad constituency of scholars who are interested in governance across different fields of study.
- Second, the Ostrom Workshop has expanded the interdisciplinary reach of faculty participation in all of our activities, including our weekly colloquium. The core group of attendees at these brown bag meetings, which may be our most famous organizational feature, historically came from the College and SPEA; the group now also includes faculty members from other units, such as the Maurer School of Law and Kelley School of Business. In addition, we recently finished collecting IU Bloomington applications for affiliated faculty from 12 disciplines across six schools, including many disciplines that had not been previously affiliated with the workshop. These new faculty participants have pledged their commitment to help implement our strategic priorities for the next three years. We are excited to be building the foundation for a vibrant, expanded intellectual community of social scientists working together toward common goals.
- Third, we have set records in funding graduate and faculty research support this summer, as well as awarding our first Ostrom Graduate Fellowships, which spanned across anthropology, economics, geography, and political science. In 2015, we offered over $150,000 in research grants, which represents a 300 percent increase over similar support in 2014. Besides enhanced educational offerings for graduate students, we are also excited about plans to add a systematic undergraduate component to our activities. We plan to name undergraduate fellows in the future and offer them opportunities to get directly involved in cutting-edge research activities.
Our new dual role will ensure that beyond advancing our own research agenda, the Ostrom Workshop will serve as a campus asset for all social scientists. Our strategic plan specifies the parameters under which we operate, and I encourage all social science faculty and students to read it carefully to identify opportunities for collaborations.
We are in the process of streamlining our website to clearly present our goals and organizational structure. I encourage you to bookmark it and check it again in a few weeks for more details about our mission and strategic priorities.
As a proud IU alumnus, I am excited to be here. In my new capacity, I look forward to fulfilling the Ostrom Workshop’s responsibility to help the social sciences play a more prominent role in the future of Indiana University.
The weekly colloquium takes place Mondays from noon to 1 p.m. in the Tocqueville Room at the Ostrom Workshop, 513 N. Park Avenue. For more information, contact Allison Sturgeon, firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 855-3151.