March 15, 2021
We are at the one-year mark since Rice sent students home and initiated remote work for almost all faculty and staff. It’s been a tough year, but with vaccinations ramping up and the Rice Stadium becoming a community vaccination site beginning March 15, we can see and feel the progress towards a return to normal. I was on campus during the beautiful weather, and what a thrill it was to see students out walking around and sitting outside the Pavilion and the RMC. Outdoor spots for safely gathering (masked and socially distanced) have been added, including lots of picnic tables outside the college serveries. After many months of social isolation, the campus as we previously knew and experienced it is coming back into focus. We now feel much more confident that we will return to in-person teaching in the fall. We’ll pick up our human subjects research projects that had been placed on hiatus and get back to what we do best: engaging in world-class social science research, producing knowledge, and contributing to solutions for challenging social problems. The importance of our work in Social Sciences has grown as our country has struggled to contain the pandemic, endured economic volatility and business interruptions, and focused anew on issues of inequality and social justice.
Our faculty and students have been remarkably resilient and creative in facing online and hybrid modes of teaching and learning. Research has by no means halted. This newsletter provides some stories and links on the work that Social Sciences faculty and students are engaged in. An important part of the work we do focuses on equality, inequity and diversity. Over a third of our faculty have a research focus in these areas, and many of them offer research opportunities for undergraduates. We are committed to providing equal access to participate in course-related research and experiential opportunities for all students. Funding is available to low-resourced undergraduate and graduate students for travel and other associated expenses. The Social Sciences Access and Opportunity Fund, which is the focus of the School’s 24HR Challenge taking place on Thursday, March 25, is just one of many powerful opportunities for you to support the school financially.
You can also lend your experience and expertise and provide guidance to students who are seeking career advice and connections within a profession, industry or organization. Consider Rice students when you are seeking interns, developing research initiatives and hiring new professionals for your organization. You are providing tremendous value to Rice students when you share your expertise and professional networks.
As members of the Rice Social Sciences community, you are an important part of both our past and our future. We are proud of our School’s accomplishments and our commitment to connecting our teaching and research with policy for the betterment of society. Much of this could not happen without the generosity of Rice donors and volunteers who advance research, student experiences and the facilities, such as the new Kraft Hall, that allow us to do our best work. I hope you find the highlights in this newsletter to be of interest, and I thank you for your support of Social Sciences at Rice.
With best wishes,
Interim Dean of Social Sciences