Message from the Dean

Message from the Dean

Dean David N. Figlio

On Twitter and Instagram, the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) community has embraced the hashtag #SESPLove. Those who spend time around SESP understand why. Part of it reflects the school’s personal, family feeling. But it also involves our shared mission: Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are dedicated to making lives better across individuals, families, organizations, and communities. We dedicate our teaching, research, creative work, and service to this goal.

At SESP, we understand that nothing thrives in isolation. Visibly or invisibly, everything connects. If we want to address fundamental organizational and societal challenges – whether they are caused by systemic inequality or racial injustice, poor institutional or policy design, or the inertia that sets in when something previously “worked” but no longer does – we need to get to the root of the problem so we can create innovative solutions. This means getting out of our silos and learning across disciplines and domains. It means embracing the interconnectedness that defines humans, organizations, communities, and societies.

As a community of cutting-edge scholars and designers with broad-ranging expertise in everything from human biology and computer science to economics, we’re uniquely positioned to confront society’s most pressing social and educational problems. And we’re dedicated to being part of the solutions. We aspire to infuse our students with a sense of the possible – to break away from timeworn binaries in order to imagine new approaches to improving the places where we live and work, and the lives of those around us.

We are dedicated to promoting human development and learning in all settings – formal and informal – and at every stage of life. This requires engineering new design breakthroughs and working purposefully, collaboratively, and humbly with a wide variety of different groups, from school districts and museums to community organizations. Together, we’re able to develop and test new ideas before we put them into practice – while constantly refining our efforts along the way. We view our collaborators as intellectual partners. Partners in our efforts to better understand each other’s needs, and to create, innovate, and improve. And we spread our new insights and discoveries to benefit as many people as possible – in our hometowns of Evanston and Chicago, and around the world.

I’d love to learn how you’re making a difference, in large or small ways, and how we can make our community even stronger. Please email us at or, better yet, use the #SESPLove hashtag to connect with your SESP family.

With SESP Love,


David Figlio
Orrington Lunt Professor and Dean