On May 1, 2018, Social Science Matrix was honored to host the first-ever joint Social Science Fest / Matrix Open House, a celebration of the accomplishments of the Division of Social Science over the past year—and an opportunity to highlight the work of Matrix for the broader community. Roughly 50 faculty members and graduate students from different divisions gathered for the event, at which Dean Carla Hesse presented teaching and service awards to four faculty members in the Division of Social Sciences.
“We’ve been through a turbulent period in the history of our university,” Hesse told an audience of roughly 50 attendees. “We’re finding our stride again. It’s amazing that over the course of this period, we’ve been resilient in the face of global headwinds that are not in favor of public higher education….We’re also in growth mode again. The students care about us and the world cares about us.”
Hesse highlighted some of the notable awards and other recognition that researchers in the Division of Social Science have earned in recent months. “We continue to be showered with laurels,” she said. “Two of our faculty, Bob Levenson and Hillary Hoyne, were elected to the American Academy this year. We won an astonishing number of prestigious awards and post-doctoral fellowships. Shari Huhndorf, Nick Tackett, and Fei Xu were awarded Guggenheims. Christine Philliou won a Burkhardt from the American Council of Learned Societies. Supreet Kaur and Danny Yagan from [the Department of Economics] were named Sloan Fellows. Daniel Schneider in Sociology was made a William T. Grant Scholar, and there have been numerous book prizes won by our faculty—too many to name.” (Hesse did take time to single out a UC Berkeley scholar whose book won no fewer than five prizes: Tom Laqueur, her husband.)
“This division rocks,” Hesse said. “We’re home to 11% of Ph.D.s, which is an honorable number given the total number of professional degrees we now have at Berkeley. We’re home to three of the five largest majors…. And we continue to be innovators with curriculum design. We have a new minor that’s being launched in early childhood development, and our interdisciplinary majors in cognitive science, political economy, and global studies grow apace.”
“It’s not just the quantity of the teaching; it’s the quality,” Hesse added. “Half of the campus-level Distinguished Teaching awards from the all campus went to this division this year.”
Distinguished Teaching Awards
Hesse then recognized four winners of this year’s divisional teaching and service awards.
First, she presented the Distinguished Teaching Award to Professor Kurt Cuffey, from the UC Berkeley Department of Geography, who is an expert on the glaciers and climate change—and is beloved among students, in part because of his knack for leading treks into the wilderness. “We’re celebrating him today because his teaching is legendary, not only in the department, but across campus,” Hesse said. Professor Nathan Sayre accepted on Cuffee’s behalf.
The second teaching award was given to Professor Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, from the Department of History. “The word that comes to mind when it comes to [Jones-Rogers’] relationship to teaching is avocation, or calling,” Hesse said. “Teaching is not a job, it’s a way of life for her…. She’s only been here for a few years, but in those few years, she’s already had a palpable impact on the teaching footprint on the campus.”
Distinguished Service Awards
In the tradition of honoring faculty members for their service beyond teaching and research, Hesse honored two scholars. First, she presented a Distinguished Service Award to Professor Terry Regier, from the Department of Linguistics and Director of the Cognitive Science Program.
“He’s been not just a dedicated campus servant with generous work on all the committees in his department, and continuous service on academic senate committees,” Hesse said. “But we’re really here to celebrate and recognize his contribution as the faculty director of the Cognitive Science program,” which she noted has ballooned under Regier’s leadership.
“It represents a doubling of the size of this major since 2013,” Hesse said. “It’s astonishing work. It’s just taking off; it’s wildfire. Terry also has put in the really critical groundwork toward becoming a graduate group, a possible Ph.D. degree, and maybe even departmentalization at some point in the future.”
For the second Distinguished Service Award presentation, Hesse honored Professor Brandi Wilkins Catanese, who is a faculty member both in the Department of African-American Studies and African Diaspora Studies as well as Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, which is housed in the Division of Arts & Humanities. “Catalyst is the word that comes to mind when I think about [Wilkins Catanese],” Hesse said. “She’s a playwright, she’s a scholar of the American theater and American theater production, and is in the words of her nominator, ‘a brilliant scholar, generous colleague, and gifted administrator.’
Hesse noted that Wilkins Catanese has maintained a high level of service in two departments, and has served on numerous commitees and participated in a wide range of programs in both. “She expands the idea of service as not just checking boxes in your department, but is one of our great civic servants in the Greater Bay Area,” Hesse said. “I think [she] embodies and exemplifies the public mission of our university, so I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate her.”
Celebrating A Busy Year at Matrix
To conclude the presentation, Professor Marion Fourcade, from the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology, welcomed the attendees in her capacity as Interim Director of Social Science Matrix. “It’s an inspiring sight to have a joint event today and to welcome you in this space,” Fourcade said. “It’s been an exciting year at Matrix.”
Fourcade acknowledged Bill Hanks and Carla Hesse, who together “laid out the vision for what Matrix should be—a place for innovation, for interdisciplinarity, and engagement with the world,” she explained. “They saw it as an incubator of new ideas, sometimes with modest means but great ambitions.”
She provided an overview of key highlights from the year, including the Matrix Distinguished Lecture by Craig Calhoun, Director of the Berggruen Institute. (Fourcade also announced that Professor Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council, is expected to give the Matrix Distinguished Lecture in November).
Among the other highlights noted by Fourcade were the Matrix partnership with Sciences Po; a recent conference on religion and humanitariasm; a workshop on climate economics; and a series of panels and presentations that are part of the Matrix Solidarity Series.
Fourcade noted that Matrix will be open during the summer of 2018, and will host a series of workshops in partnership with ICPSR. “You should encouage your students to register for these courses, which might open up new horizons for their scholarly development,” Fourcade said.
Thank you to everyone who came to the Social Science Fest/Matrix Open House. We look forward to doing it again!