Social Science & Policy Studies

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. 

Degree is also offered online.
Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD
Economics bachelor minor
Environmental & Sustainability Studies bachelor minor
Global Public Health minor
Law & Technology minor
Learning Sciences & Technologies master phd
Psychology bachelor minor
Science and Engineering for Development minor
Science and Technology for Innovation in Global Development certificate master
Society, Technology & Policy bachelor
System Dynamics minor
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Undergraduate Research Projects Showcase

A celebration of research, design, and creative theses—a requirement of every graduating senior through the Major Qualifying Project (MQP)—takes place each spring on campus. Student teams representing all academic departments present their work to their faculty advisors, external sponsors, and the community-at-large, and the public is invited.


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.


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.


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!

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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

Alexandria Sheehan ‘24
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
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[...]

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Tionge Nakazwe '25
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[...]

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Featured Student Project

student with project

Uranium and The Navajo Nation

Kylar Foley ’24’s research highlights the dangers of uranium mines, emphasizing both the chemical and radiological effects

From WPI's University Magazine


ChatGPT: Revolutionary Tech or Pandora’s Box?

WPI experts weigh in on what should excite and alarm us about large-language models.

Field Work in Sustainability

Don Seville ’92 uses systems thinking to improve farming and food.

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Crystal Brown

Faculty Snapshot

Meet Assistant Professor Crystal Brown in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies.


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