Research in HASS

Research in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences reflects the faculty’s notably interdisciplinary way of looking at the world.  Funded research in HASS spans the investigation of phenomenon from the very small scale to the very large scale, as well as the interconnections that occur in between.

In Cognitive Science, researchers are investigating how perception shapes action and how vision guides the accomplishment of both simple and complex human tasks under varying circumstances and constraints; other research investigates how we use background knowledge and context to understand language even when what is being said is ambiguous, novel, ungrammatical, and/or metaphorical. Department faculty are also collaborating with faculty in the Arts Department to build the cognitive architecture that enables intelligent agents to reason and intuit, so that we can better understand how artists use these two cognitive abilities in order to create.

In the Science and Technology Studies Department, faculty are involved in Post-Colonial and Development Studies; Food, Agriculture, Biotechnology and Rural Communities; and Environmental Sustainability.  STS faculty also investigate the contemporary science, culture, and political economy of genomics; others explore minority cultures to identify elements from within that culture that can be used to design and build web-based tools that help K-12 students succeed in math and science.  Other researchers employ ethnographic and experimental methods in order to “think through” and constructively engage the cultural dynamics of environmental and other complex problems. 

Research originating from the Department of Communication and Media explores the influence of various personified technologies on children's social and moral development in an effort to better understand the impacts, and to develop evidence-based recommendations to guide the design of children's technology.

Faculty in the Economics Department are employing new models to analyze the effects of various incentive-based carbon dioxide emissions regulations and exploring the emerging field of neuroeconomics—the interrelationship between neuroscience and economic decision-making—and behavioral economics.

HASS faculty serve as editors of several major academic journals, including Structural Change and Economic Dynamics in the Department of Economics; The Journal of Cultural Anthropology in the Department of Science and Technology Studies; and Cognitive Systems Research and Topics in Cognitive Science in the Department of Cognitive Science. Our Department of Cognitive Science is also the home for the complete, online, 20-year archive of the Journal of the Cognitive Science Society.

HASS students are also actively engaged in the research enterprise and regularly attend and present work at major national and international conferences.  Several recently established facilities on campus further attest to HASS’s commitment to research.