A new $5 million gift from the Dedman family and The Dedman Foundation will create the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
The new institute will bring together faculty and students from the humanities, sciences and social sciences for collaborative research and other programs. The Institute’s projects will also reach beyond Dedman College to the broader University and the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Unlike interdisciplinary centers at other universities, the Institute will engage undergraduates as well as graduate students and faculty.
“SMU has benefited from the Dedman family’s extraordinary vision and support for more than five decades,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Few other families have had such a wide-ranging impact on the University’s development. Their major gifts have supported areas from humanities and sciences to law and lifetime sports. As we celebrate the University’s Centennial, this latest gift will help SMU continue to move forward among the nation’s leading universities.”
The institute will host annual seminars bringing together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and members of the community to discuss global issues. Informal research clusters will create collaborative groups of faculty and students from across the University to expand and enrich the interdisciplinary culture on campus. Interdisciplinary faculty appointments will develop new programming and curricular offerings, and a digital humanities lab will provide state-of-the-art computing technologies and interactive space for scholars to pursue interdisciplinary research.
Institute seminars and research clusters will generate capstone courses, a vital component of the new University Curriculum. In addition to deepening and broadening course selection, the Institute will allow Dedman College to offer students more opportunities for engaged learning beyond the classroom.
“Addressing the complex challenges of our interconnected world requires the knowledge and perspectives of more than one discipline,” said Dedman College Dean William Tsutsui. “The Institute is a perfect fit for a college that spans departments from philosophy to physics. By creating opportunities for substantive collaboration across the disciplines, the Institute will open new vistas for research and help prepare students for real-world challenges requiring multiple perspectives.”
Dedman College will appoint Caroline Brettell, University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, as the first director of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute. Brettell has conducted research on international migration in Portugal, France and the United States, and for the last decade has studied new immigration in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she also is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 14 books.