Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

Spring 2016

In this issue: Multidimensional Innovators


Annenberg Hall
Penelope Peterson

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends,

What do you think makes the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) at Northwestern unique? I have studied and worked at various universities across the United States, including Stanford, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and of course, Northwestern. I’ve come to see that we have something special at SESP and Northwestern—and it’s not just the trademark purple or the lakefront campus.

Our distinctiveness lies in our multidimensionality that leads to innovation. Our academic programs are strong on theory, and also strong on practice. Our School is known for close community and also global reach. Our students remember their classes for world-class academics and also the personal connections they develop with professors. This multidimensionality allows us to have great impact.

Like Northwestern as a whole, our School sparks innovation by bringing people together—people of different backgrounds, people with different specialties, people with different ideas. Our multidisciplinary community draws on diverse disciplines, from psychology to economics to computer science, as faculty collaborate in research to solve crucial problems facing our world. Our students develop this spirit of multidimensionality and collaboration to prepare them to make an innovative impact on the world as they go out from Northwestern.

In this issue of Inquiry, we present faculty, alumni and students who personify the multidimensional innovation that keeps our School at the leading edge. In our first feature, we describe current breakthrough work by David Figlio and Jon Guryan, who combine economics with education and psychology to forge new understanding of “the boy problem”—why boys are trailing girls in many measures of academic success. We also profile Jeannette Colyvas, whose study of organizations and innovation in the sciences flows into multiple streams of research, teaching and outreach.

In addition, we describe the pioneering work of Learning Sciences program alumni Paulo Blikstein, Pratim Sengupta and Camillia Matuk, who are finding new ways to improve education with cutting-edge technology. We also applaud learning and organizational change graduates Neal Sáles-Griffin, David Hoffman and Alex White, who excel as inventive entrepreneurs. We take pride in featuring students like Qiddist Hammerly, pictured on our cover, who applies the multidisciplinary tools she has learned as a social policy major to bettering education and juvenile justice systems for young people. As graduation approaches, and we watch our nearly 300 graduates prepare to take off on varied paths toward post-graduation goals, we take heart that we prepared them for innovation with a multidimensional toolkit. Our graduates go into the world wanting to improve people’s lives. We know that not only will they do good, but they will also do well!

Penelope Signature
Penelope L. Peterson, Dean