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social science & policy faculty
social science policy studies students

All scientific and technological problems are embedded in broader sociocultural contexts.  

You must understand society to effectively address our global grand challenges. Toward this end, the Social Science & Policy Studies (SSPS) department prepares students to understand human behavior and cognition, the environment, sustainable development, policy design and evaluation, and systems thinking. Through our teaching and student research opportunities, we cultivate professionals who have a deep understanding of the social impacts of science, technology, and innovation. 

Our dedicated faculty offers students unique opportunities to make connections between societal concerns and technology through faculty-led research and student projects. To prepare themselves professionally, many of our students will double major in a technical field and a complementary SSPS-related degree. We also offer a variety of minors that can be uniquely paired with any major.

There Is No Place for Racism in SSPS 

In the SSPS department, our ethos is egalitarian. Racism has no place in our department. Celebrating diversity and cultivating an environment of inclusiveness and compassion are the ideals that guide all our work regarding our students, staff, faculty, and the content of our programs; it is the culture of our department. In SSPS, we must commit to be anti-racist. That means standing up for what is right. It means seeking to confront our own biases and deliberately work to reduce them in our scholarship, our teaching, and our engagement with students, colleagues, and anyone we meet. It means hiring more people of color and giving their perspectives a platform, as we have our own, to permeate our courses, programs, and our teaching and learning. See SSPS’s full statement for more information. 

Our Programs

Degrees & Certificates

Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD
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Start Your Undergraduate Experience with SSPS

Whether you’re a prospective WPI student or a current student interested in pursuing a double major or minor, explore all SSPS has to offer for undergraduates and learn how our degrees complement WPI’s STEM programs.

WPI Student working with young children around the world

Student Projects in SSPS

Project-based learning is a pillar of the WPI Plan. Through hands-on projects in SSPS, students develop real-world solutions to societal challenges at the intersection of human behavior and psychology, the environment and sustainability, global development, public policy, and systems thinking.

Researchers demonstrate "Graspable Math" on a touchscreen.

Faculty Research

Our expert faculty embody a wide range of expertise, from political science and economics to environmental studies and psychology. Learn more about the ongoing research projects of SSPS faculty and get involved as an undergraduate or graduate researcher!

WPI Students in Ghana

Get Ready for Your Graduate Career

Prepare yourself for a lifelong career of social impact by joining one of many SSPS graduate programs, from system dynamics and learning science to innovation for global development. 


From left, Jane Li, Cagdas Onal, Yunus Telliel, and Jeanine Skorinko alt
From left, Jane Li, Cagdas Onal, Yunus Telliel, and Jeanine Skorinko
April 20, 2022


February 09, 2022
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
February 04, 2022
School of Arts & Sciences
February 04, 2022
School of Arts & Sciences
November 17, 2021

Media Coverage

The Associated Press spoke with Assistant Professor of Social Science & Policy Studies Crystal Brown about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens democracy, and how Vladimir Putin has used the appearance and infrastructure of democracy to gain, and keep, power.

More than 70 media outlets, including the Latin Trade , Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and the Oklahoman carried the news of WPI welcoming 19 full-time educators and researchers to its faculty for the 2020-21 academic year. 

Angela Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Social Science and Policy Studies department, wrote an account for the Telegram & Gazette's "As I See It" section on how our culture can more positively reshape its portrayal of the working mom and work-life-balance – especially while in a pandemic. 

Emily Douglas, professor and department head of social science & policy studies, spoke with KCUR (NPR, Kansas) about her research surrounding men who are victims of domestic abuse. She shared that men are less likely to seek help in domestic abuse situations, and that these men often face barriers to seeking help. "But, now the conversation is switching to, 'how do we best serve men who are victims of partner violence'?" she told KCUR. (The clip starts at 1:02)