Transformative gift bolsters social sciences programs

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CAS - Compass E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2017

Dean Lauren BentonDear Arts and Science community,

As the university announced recently, the College of Arts and Science has received a $5 million gift from John (BS’95) and Laura Arnold in support of public policy and quantitative social sciences.

The Arnolds’ gift will help strengthen innovative interdisciplinary initiatives in the college and help us prepare students for effective civic engagement, graduate studies in the social sciences, and professional opportunities involving social science data analysis.

I am grateful to two distinguished groups of Arts and Science faculty who have been working hard on laying the groundwork for these initiatives. Under the leadership of Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science Alan Wiseman, an interdisciplinary group of faculty from the departments of economics, political science and sociology drafted a proposal for a new major in quantitative social sciences that would build on existing strengths in Arts and Science and Peabody College. A second group, chaired by William Collins, the Terence E. Adderley Jr. Professor of Economics, has designed a revised Public Policy Studies major, adding depth and breadth to a course of study that has been of growing interest to students.

Both initiatives will offer possibilities for immersion experiences by students participating in capstone projects or internships and respond to our students’ interest in public engagement and the pursuit of evidence-based policy analysis.

Best wishes,

Dean Benton Signature

Lauren Benton
Dean, College of Arts and Science
Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History

A&S in the news

The New Yorker: “Arrow,” a poem by Beth Bachmann, writer in residence in English and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry, appears in the April 10, 2017, issue of The New Yorker.

The Tennessean: How ‘Hamilton’ changed one of Vanderbilt’s most popular classes: Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Alice Randall, writer in residence in African American and Diaspora Studies, have teamed up to reimagine Zeppos’ Federalist Papers course, weaving songs from the hit musical Hamilton with historical documents tracing the founding of the U.S. The course is taught at Fisk University with a blend of Fisk and Vanderbilt students.

Futurity: Scientists hunt for new drugs in plant ‘ammo’: Plants create hundreds of thousands of small molecules (also called specialized or secondary metabolites)—including chemicals like cocaine, nicotine and capsaicin—to use as "chemical ammunition" to protect themselves from predation. Now, a new Vanderbilt study suggests a new method for identifying the gene networks that plants use to create anti-predator chemicals could lead to more effective drugs. Study co-authors Jennifer Wisecaver, a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt, and Antonis Rokas, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences, are quoted. Undergraduate researcher Alexander Borowsky, who worked on the study, is mentioned.

Class of 2017: Zachary Bednarke thrives at the intersection of science and music

English professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Dental pain motivated lions to eat humans

$5M gift to advance social science programs in College of Arts and Science

College of Arts and Science names divisional dean of humanities

Second annual Vanderbilt Giving Day is June 15 #give4thegold

A&S notable achievements

  • Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Arts Jonathan Rattner’s film The Interior won the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary at the 2017 Ann Arbor Film Festival.
  • The library’s podcast: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Bryan Lowe talks about his book Ritualized Writing: Buddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan.
  • Junior Kaylee Kohlmaier and graduate student Jen Newman competed in the Lafayette Debates, co-sponsored by George Washington University and the French embassy. Kohlmaier placed third overall, and Newman was the top speaker at the tournament. Reaching the finals qualified Kohlmaier and Newman for a study-tour of Paris, where they will represent the U.S. as young ambassadors in a series of discussions with French diplomats, politicians, academics and other thought-leaders.
  • Robert Barsky, professor of French and comparative literature, won a prestigious Bellagio Fellowship in New York, and Elsa Filosa, assistant professor of Italian, won a Mellon Summer Institute fellowship for Italian paleography.
  • Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English Lorrie Moore was selected as a 2017 Cullman Center Fellow as part of The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

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