Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

Fall 2017

In this issue: The Corner of Education and Social Policy

SESP’s focus on education AND social policy make us unlike any other school in the nation. In this issue, we explore how emphasizing both dimensions can inspire creative solutions to vexing problems and change lives, both within the SESP community and far beyond.

Dean David Figlio

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends,

On Twitter and Instagram, the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) community has embraced the hashtag #SESPlove. Those who spend some 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, and staff are motivated to make life better, whether we focus on the individual, family, organization, or country. We dedicate our teaching, research, creative work, and service to this goal.

As I begin my tenth year as a SESP faculty member and first year as dean, I’ve been reflecting on why I love SESP so much. Like so many others, I love our community, what we do, and why we do it. I also love the special ways we combine education AND social policy, because I’m convinced that this increases our societal impact.

For one, we are a community of cutting-edge scholars and designers with broad-ranging expertise in everything from human biology and computer science to economics, and we’re uniquely suited to tackle society’s most pressing education and social problems.

We recognize that education and social policy are inextricably linked, and that breakthroughs in one realm require deep understanding of others. And, motivated by our shared passion for making life better for everyone, we explore human development in all settings—formal and informal— and at every life stage.

This requires engineering new design breakthroughs and working purposefully with governmental agencies, school districts, nonprofits, museums, and other cultural institutions to develop, test, and refine our ideas. We view our collaborators as intellectual partners in our efforts to better understand, create, innovate, and improve. And we spread our new insights, discoveries, and innovations to benefit as many people as possible.

This issue of Inquiry provides a glimpse into some of this work. In “Teaching Slow Thinking: A New Way to Reduce Violence and Juvenile Crime,” we describe how deep insights from education can change social policy for good. The feature “Local Educational Partnership Tackles National Issues” discusses our rich and mutualistic alliance with Evanston schools, one aimed at making life better in our hometown.

A third piece, “Education and Policy in One House” details how bringing education and social policy under one roof helps us to better understand schools as organizations.

We also celebrate our remarkable students and alumni and their Northwestern directions. Learning Sciences PhD student Kalonji Nzinga is creating new ways to educate through creative pursuits. Alumna Stefanie DeLuca (PhD02) applies our unique way of thinking and collaborating to housing and social policy, and she is changing lives for the better.

Please email us at—or better yet, include the #SESPlove hashtag on Twitter—to let us know your stories as well. I’d love to learn how you’re making a difference.

David Figlio
David Figlio
Orrington Lunt Professor and Dean/div>