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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

Degree is also offered online.
Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD
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Lecture Hall

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. 

Meet Our Students

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Alexandria Sheehan ‘24

BS, Economic Science, minor in Data Science

A varsity softball player, Alex loves getting involved with the WPI community and appreciates the opportunities of project-based learning.

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Sakshi Joglekar ‘24

BS, Biology & Biotechnology; Psychology

International student Sakshi loves to share her culture with others and leans on the support of the community to help her thrive.

Tionge's headshot

Tionge Nakazwe '25

BS, Environmental and Sustainability Studies; minor in Creative Writing

As a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, Tionge knows that a diverse support system has helped her thrive and achieve at WPI.

Hannah S

Hannah Schulz '21

BS, Civil Engineering and Environmental & Sustainability Studies

Hannah has taken advantage of all the opportunities WPI has to offer, from volunteering and extracurriculars to project work.

From WPI's Alumni Magazine

Validating 3D Food Printing for Customizable Nutrition

This project aimed to advance the material science of 3D food printing and integrate it with consumer rating studies through developing a three-layer, nutritional, palatable 3D food printed (3DFP) bar. 

Announcements

October 12, 2022
Alumni
July 29, 2022
School of Arts & Sciences
June 20, 2022
WPI Today, Social Science & Policy Studies
June 14, 2022
School of Arts & Sciences

Media Coverage

The Worcester Business Journal highlighted two grants secured by WPI researchers: a $900,000 grant secured by WPI’s Institute of Science and Technology for Development (instead) for work in Ethiopia related to WPI MicroFlush toilets; and a $700,000 National Science Foundation grant secured by WPI researcher and associate professor Erin Ottmar to improve math tools for middle school teachers.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette interviewed researcher Erin Ottmar about the $700,000 grant she received from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop technology that will help middle school teachers better understand when and how students are succeeding or struggling while learning algebra.

The Washington Post spoke with Social Science & Policy Studies Department Head Rob Krueger about what the term “carbon neutral” means for hotels, and how people using a sustainable building can change the way it functions. Krueger also gave recommendations on how to travel in an environmentally-friendly way.

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.