Fawn walking on rolling green hills

Vision and Bold Leadership in Social Sciences

Dean SheldonFor the past seven years, I have been working side by side with alumni and others passionate about education—and especially the Division of Social Sciences—through our two California Boards of Councilors. For me, it is rewarding to work with a diverse group of really bright, committed people whose interests in making UCSC and the division better have influenced the way I lead. The division has separate Northern and Southern California Boards of Councilors, with Alec Webster as the Chair of the northern board and Steve Bruce the Chair of the southern board. Each board meets once an academic quarter in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles, respectively. In between meetings my social sciences development officers and I communicate with individual board members on a regular basis.

In addition to providing me with their input, advice, and guidance, the boards have several goals, including to ensure a focused vision for the division, become well versed about departments in the division, learn about the world class research that faculty within the division are conducting, improve the already extraordinary quality of undergraduate and graduate education in the social sciences, and connect the community with UCSC through fundraising and outreach. As a result of the Boards' efforts, a total of $9,808,167 has been raised through gifts and pledges since inception of the Boards in 2007.

The Boards continue to grow, with six board members voted in this year, making a total of 27 (23 active, 4 emeriti) councilors. Members -- leaders in their fields -- come from diverse backgrounds, bringing a wide range of skills, experiences, and viewpoints to each meeting. They certainly keep me on my toes. Most members are alumni but some are not. See a full list of current board members. I want to thank publicly all of my past and current board members for their valuable advice and counsel, as well as their incredible generosity and support, over the last seven years.

In This Issue

Social Sciences Faculty Influence American Society, Ranked in the Top 10

We are incredibly proud of our faculty, and for good reason! The Faculty Media Impact Project at the Center for a Public Anthropology has found that UCSC’s social sciences faculty ranks 7th for citations in the news media. The project considered work in five social sciences disciplines: anthropology, economics, politics, psychology, and sociology at 94 top universities. It compared 50,000 news searches from 6,000 sources, involving 12,777 faculty members over the six-year period of 2006 to 2011. This is yet another indicator of the world class research that is being conducted by the faculty in the Division of Social Sciences.

UCSC Conference: Climate Science and Policy Leader

Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki and Dean Paul Koch (Physical and Biological Sciences) recently co-organized UC Santa Cruz’s first interdisciplinary national conference on climate change, "Climate Science and Policy through the Looking Glass," where more than 300 people came to learn about the latest research.

Audience addresses the panel.

Climate scientists from UCSC, across the state, and around the country participated. Professor Susan Solomon, Professor of Atmospheric Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change was keynote speaker for the Keeley Lecture that took place Friday, February 28. The next day featured three panels, ending with a keynote address by Professor Michael E. Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University. Palo Alto resident, Benjamin Hammett, Ph.D., was impressed with the diversity of scholars and the research they presented, noting two presentations in particular, Professor Mann's keynote address and the presentation given by Benjamin Santer, Ph.D., Climate Researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “Dr. Santer commented that we can now predict a steady increase in temperature, so that when it arrives, we won’t be surprised. That was new for me,” said Hammett. Hammett posted the link to the conference presentations after reading comments refuting climate change concerns in his local paper.

“Seeing so many people in attendance confirmed the community’s interest in these matters, giving participants current information and advancing the research of leading scientists,” Dean Kamieniecki stated. This conference is an excellent of example of two deans of the largest divisions on campus, and their faculty, working closely together on arguably the most challenging issue of the new century, climate change, at UCSC.

Dr. Bradley Hubbard-Nelson, an applied physicist, traveled from Massachusetts to attend the conference. He is currently studying climate science in order to conduct research and teach on the subject. "I found the conference an ideal mix of science and policy. Having the opportunity to further discuss these topics of interest with top scientists was also gratifying." From mitigation models to learning about the various aspects of climate change projections, many topics resonated with him throughout the day. “I found Dr. Jeffrey Kiehl’s presentation particularly interesting, as he addressed some of the psychological aspects of our societal reaction to climate change,” Hubbard-Nelson stated. The conference gave him ideas he hopes to apply in his own research and use in his teaching. “Overall, the conference really hit the mark for me.”

Interdisciplinary conferences such as this, as well as other innovative projects and cutting-edge research opportunities, are made possible through the Dean’s Excellence Fund. “The fund makes the Social Sciences Division stronger,” Dean Kamieniecki commented. “It gives me the flexibility to capitalize on timely projects that I would not be able to support otherwise.”

Support the Dean’s Excellence Fund now.

Landmark Endowment for Environmental Studies

Male professor teaches on hillside.This spring, as the result of a very successful collaboration between UCSC alumni, faculty, and staff, the Environmental Studies Department received a $2 million endowment from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The endowment will honor the legacy of Kenneth S. Norris, the late UCSC professor of natural history, and his life-long commitment to field-based education. Alumnus Larry Ford, retired lecturer Jenny Anderson, and staff member Chris Lay led the effort, in consultation with a large group of natural history alumni. Environmental Studies professors Karen Holl, Gregory Gilbert, and Andrew Szasz coordinated planning and proposal development within the department. Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki kept a watchful and supportive eye on the entire process.

“The vision the proposal team had—of ensuring that the study of natural history be maintained and expanded on this campus—was the focal point for our collaborative efforts. I am extremely grateful to the Packard Foundation for helping us make this vision a reality,” Dean Kamieniecki stated. Most foundations, including Packard, seldom award endowments, and, instead, prefer to award one-time funds that must be spent within a specified time. However, the Packard Foundation believed that this was a very special case.

The endowment advances the campus’s $300 million Comprehensive Campaign, which, among other things, seeks to enhance the student experience. Social Sciences alumni push the boundaries of student participant-centered learning and interdisciplinary research because they care about UCSC, its faculty and students, and its programs. You, too, can show your support!

Innovative Program Leads in UC’s System

Liliana Garcia is bright, talented and the first in her family to attend college, a goal she was determined to reach. Fortunately for Liliana, she met Fran Guerra, UC Santa Cruz lecturer in the Sociology Department. Guerra (pronounced Gwerra), of Italian descent, is a first generation student herself, and served as a mentor to Garcia. “I told her she should try to finish her UCSC coursework in three years, and then do the same at UC Hastings School of Law," Guerra stated. "She took my advice, finishing UCSC early and is in her first year at UC Hastings.”Liliana

Liliana has also had the support of family, her boyfriend (UCSC class of ´14), and others throughout this experience. She took advantage of obtaining an internship while at UCSC, and, upon completion of her first year, will be interning with Judge John Salazar in Santa Cruz this summer. When asked what she would tell students interested in this program, Garcia replied, “As a young college graduate it is crucial to remain conscious of the diverse and demanding world we live in . . . . But as an emerging professional, it is equally as important to develop the skills and recognize the knowledge that is necessary to succeed in such a unique moment in time."

Liliana’s success was influential in creating the newly established 3+3 BA/JD program between UCSC and UC Hastings College of Law School in San Francisco, a first in the UC system. Starting Fall 2014, UCSC students who enroll will be able to receive their Bachelor’s degree in three years, and their Juris Doctorate from UC Hastings College of Law in three years, shaving one year off of their studies. The program will be housed in UC Santa Cruz’s Legal Studies Program in the Department of Politics.

“This is the kind of innovative program we need to be developing; one that provides a clear career path for qualified students while saving time and money without any sacrifice of academic or professional rigor,” said Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki.

Thanks to UC Hastings Professor Kelly Weisberg, UC Hastings Academic Dean Beth Hillman, UCSC Professors Craig Haney and Daniel Wirls, and other UC Hastings and UCSC faculty and administrators, the program received strong support from both campuses. (Weisberg is married to UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal.)

Reparations Prize Fighter Speaks

 Photo by Chris Dykes, 2014
How does one dismantle some of the policies
 of German, Swiss, Austrian and French entities that, under the guise of innocence and secrecy, promulgated massive injustices?
Call in Morris Ratner, attorney at law, who methodically, and with fierce boldness, dismantled the business’s deceptive practices through lawsuits resulting in settlements of more than $8 billion for victims of Nazi persecution whose families had deposited significant sums of money prior to World War II in major Swiss and German banks. Following the war, these banks refused to cooperate and return funds to these families, citing the need to maintain confidentiality. In many cases, bank accounts were closed, and the banks kept the money.

Professor Ratner’s lecture at UCSC is part of a speakers series on law and social justice, in celebration of the innovative program between UCSC and UC Hastings San Francisco 3+3 BA/JD described above. Find out more about the program here. 

9,365 Miles to Become a Slug

You could say graduate student Brian Giera traveled the world to come to UC Santa Cruz. From Michigan through Kenya, Ghana, and East Africa to California, Giera was determined to attend UCSC no matter what it took.

In a classroom in Michigan Giera was asked what the world would look like if he were the last person to die. His answer became a pivotal moment as Giera made a radical shift to look outside of himself in order to make a positive impact on the world.Brian Giera

Giera worked at a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Uganda after graduate school to “learn what affects peoples lives and be in a completely different culture” while deciding what to do. It was there that he read research on micro entrepreneurship by UCSC Economics Assistant Professor Jonathan Robinson and decided to pursue his doctorate in International Finance.

“I want my research to change people’s lives,” Giera stated, “and working under Dr. Robinson has furthered my abilities to make an impact for good.”

With UCSC’S growing research influence in world universities -- now ranked #2 for research citations by Times Higher Education --many students like Giera come to UC Santa Cruz because of the unique research that faculty members conduct across campus, and especially in the Division of Social Sciences. “Students get to work directly with their professors,” Dean Kamieniecki said. “Graduate students, and sometimes even undergraduate students, are often listed as authors on research publications, a rarity at most research universities.”

Read more about Social Sciences and students, in the Economist and Santa Cruz Sentinel

You can support faculty and students, or a department of your choice today. 

Hmmm. What is this?

Dear on grassy hill
The Environmental Studies Department offers “Animal Ecology and Conservation” a senior-level course where students conduct research to identify and document wildlife in a particular area, in this case, the UC Santa Cruz campus. Bobcats, cows, raccoons, and many shots of deer (including the curious male deer staring at the camera) were captured from April 25 through May 12, 2014. Hands-on, student-centered, experiential learning takes place throughout Social Sciences departments. Help a student participate in this, and other experiential learning courses where learning comes alive.

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