The Center for Social Science Scholarship: A History
Dr. Anne Brodsky, Chair and Professor of Psychology
Dr. Christine Mallinson, Director of CS3, Professor of Language, Literacy,& Culture
Dr. Felipe Filomeno, Associate Director of CS3, Associate Professor of Political Science and Global Studies
The Social Sciences at UMBC
After the creation of CAHSS at UMBC in 2005, a number of research centers were launched that strengthened the mission of the college – but none focused broadly on the social sciences. Despite the lack of a hub for the social sciences at UMBC, the programs, departments, and scholars who were engaged in social science research and scholarship, teaching, university service, and community service were nevertheless widely recognized as being highly productive and successful.
In 1999, Dr. David Mitch, Professor of Economics, and Dr. Nicholas Miller, Professor of Political Science, led the creation of the Social Sciences Forum Distinguished Lecture Series to bring top social scientists to campus each year to present cutting-edge research on topics of vital interest to the UMBC social science community and the public. Dr. Scott Bass, then Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Education, and Dr. Art Johnson, then Provost, enthusiastically supported the launching of the lecture series, which continues to be an outstanding venue for bringing eminent scholars to our campus to share their research and scholarship.
Then and now, innovative research, attainment of grants and fellowships, community engagement, training of undergraduate and graduate students, and highly successful alumni are hallmarks of the social sciences at UMBC. They are also crucial to the overall success of our institution as a top research and teaching university. The Center for Social Science Scholarship (CS3) was designed to illuminate, elevate, support, and expand those strengths.
Center Planning Process
The discussion of the most appropriate way to structure, support, and enhance the social sciences at UMBC had been ongoing since at least 2004. At this time, what had been the College of Arts and Sciences was reorganized into CAHSS and the College of Engineering (later renamed the College of Engineering and Information Technology, COEIT). In 2005, the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CNMS) as well as the Erickson School of Aging Studies came into being.
However, it was only in 2016–2017 that the formal conception and planning of CS3 began. In that year, Dr. Anne Brodsky, Professor of Psychology and former Associate Dean for Research and College Affairs in CAHSS, conceived of a social science research center during her American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship. With the endorsement of then Dean of CAHSS, Dr. Scott Casper, during the 2017-2018 academic year, Dr. Brodsky served as the Special Assistant for Social Science Planning as well as the Interim Director of the Maryland Institute for Policy and Research – a policy center and research administration unit that later was embedded into CS3 and, in 2023, incorporated into the CAHSS Dean’s Office, as CARAT. In her administrative capacities, Dr. Brodsky chaired an invited workgroup of talented, multidisciplinary CAHSS faculty who participated in planning and designing the Center:
- Dr. Pamela R. Bennett, School of Public Policy
- Dr. Bambi Chapin, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, & Public Health
- Dr. Christine Mallinson, Language, Literacy, and Culture Program
- Dr. George Derek Musgrove, Department of History
- Dr. Susan M. Sterett, School of Public Policy
The goal of the social science planning process, as expressed in the invitation to the workgroup members, was to examine “how to elevate and illuminate the exciting and rich range of social science scholarship, teaching, and service being done at UMBC.”
The Social Science Workgroup met regularly in Fall 2017 to discuss social science definitions, vision, and design; to collect and analyze data; and to respond to organizational drafts created by the Workgroup chair. The Workgroup collected data in several formats. First, 35 individual interviews were conducted with UMBC and non-UMBC social science stakeholders (then President Hrabowski, then Provost Philip Rous, current and former CAHSS Deans and staff, social science chairs and directors, other Center directors, and social science researchers across ranks). In addition, focus group discussions were held, and a Qualtrics survey was distributed and completed by 230 social science faculty and administrators. A web-based social science center exemplar search was also conducted, which identified Center models at peer and aspirational institutions. Finally, Workgroup members conducted two social science research center site visits at Penn State University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The findings were analyzed and woven into a final report submitted by Dr. Brodsky to Dean Casper in January 2018. This Social Science Planning Final Report, which provides the history of the social sciences at UMBC and details the creation of CS3, is available here.
In Spring 2018, Dean Casper accepted the report’s recommendation to create the Center for Social Science Scholarship, and the Dean’s office convened a search committee of CAHSS faculty from across the social sciences to vet applicants for a Director position. After a campus search process, Dean Casper accepted the recommendation of the search committee, and in July 2018 appointed Dr. Christine Mallinson, Professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture, as the inaugural Director of CS3. In Fall 2018, Dr. Mallinson formed a CS3 advisory board, consisting of seven faculty from across the social sciences at UMBC. In 2019, Dean Casper accepted Dr. Mallinson’s recommendation to appoint Dr. Felipe Filomeno, Associate Professor of Political Science and Global Studies, as CS3’s inaugural Associate Director.
The Center for Social Science Scholarship Today
In its first five years of existence, CS3 has organized, hosted, and cosponsored 255 events with nearly total 9,000 attendees, including 42 Social Sciences Forum lectures, 41 workshops for faculty and graduate students, and 172 co-sponsored and special events. CS3 has awarded more than $140,000 in research funding for faculty and students at all levels: 16 summer fellowships for faculty, 38 small research grants for faculty and students, and has supported 14 faculty working groups thus far.
In September 2021, CS3 launched a podcast, Retrieving the Social Sciences, produced by Dr. Ian Anson, Associate Professor of Political Science and CS3 advisory board member, which highlights social science research at UMBC. To date, RTSS has produced 44 episodes featuring 23 students, 29 faculty, 8 UMBC programs, and 18 guests, with more than 3,000 downloads. Podcast production assistants have included 4 undergraduate student interns thus far, in addition to D’Juan Moreland (‘23 Music Composition and Biological Sciences), who composed the podcast theme music.
We look forward to the next five years and beyond, as CS3 continues to support the social science community at UMBC.