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Provost’s Review of the Social Sciences at Cornell



Review the current state of the social sciences at Cornell, and identify opportunities for continuing to strengthen the social sciences at Cornell.


The review will focus on the traditional social science disciplines as they appear in all colleges and schools, as well as research infrastructure units that support the social sciences. However, the review will also recognize and consider disciplines that intersect traditional social sciences. Contributions to the research, teaching, and public-engagement missions of the university, as well as the organization of social sciences faculty throughout the university, will be included.


First, a small internal committee will be convened to develop a document that describes the current state of the social sciences at Cornell. The report produced by the committee will be descriptive—it will not provide a critique of social sciences, nor will it be prescriptive in tone. The report will be informed by data and information that are internal and external to Cornell, pertaining to the teaching, research, and public-engagement missions of the university. The internal committee is not intended to be representative of all social science disciplines, but rather is meant to be a small group with enough knowledge to produce the descriptive report. The Provost will invite nominations from the campus and will appoint the membership.

Second, a group of highly regarded scholars, external to Cornell, will be identified and invited by the Provost to review the report of the internal committee and to participate in a site visit that will include interviews, tours, and discussion. This group will be asked to provide its assessment, together with recommendations for further strengthening the social sciences at Cornell.

Progress reports will be provided to the Faculty Senate Committee throughout the process.

Internal Committee

Co-Chairs: Judith Appleton and Ted O’Donoghue
Members: Rose Batt, Jesse Goldberg, Katherine Kinzler, Yael Levitte, Katherine McComas, Kelly Musick, Holly Prigerson, Jed Stiglitz, and Martin Wells.

Update February 2017

The report of the Internal Committee for the Review of the Social Sciences is now complete and is available for viewing by Cornell faculty on this secure site ( The report is intended for the use of the External Review Committee and for members of the Cornell community only.

The Internal Committee is grateful for the assistance and collaboration of staff and faculty members in assembling data and information for the report.

The External Review Committee will visit campus on March 9 and 10, 2017. Their itinerary includes meetings with university leadership, social science deans, chairs, DGS’s, and DUS’s. In addition, the Committee will meet with students and additional faculty members nominated by their deans, as well as graduate students nominated by their DGS’s. The charge to the committee and their itinerary may also be viewed on the secure site (

As planned, the report of the Internal Committee is descriptive—it describes the current state of the social sciences at Cornell. While it does highlight some notable observations, it does not make recommendations. The External Review Committee will be asked to provide more of an assessment of the social sciences at Cornell, as well as recommendations. Following the receipt of a report from the External Review Committee, the Provost will announce plans for next steps in implementing a response. These next steps will include broad consultation with faculty before any decisions are made.

Comments and questions on the report or the review process may be submitted to

December 2016 Update

For the past seven months, the internal committee has worked to gather and distill descriptive statistical and narrative data gathered from a variety of internal and external sources. The committee has simultaneously developed a charge statement for the external committee and outline of its report. In the months ahead, the internal committee will begin report drafting and assembly, with an aim of completing its writing in early February, 2017.

An external review committee of five social science scholars has been appointed and will travel to Cornell for their site visit March 9-10, 2017. Its membership is: Karen Cook, Stanford University; Susan Gelman, University of Michigan; Sherman James, Duke University; Theda Skocpol, Harvard University; and Ellen Wartella, Northwestern University.


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