Strategic Plan

Learning from Experience
and Building Models for Success:

A Strategic Agenda for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
at Michigan State University

v. October 10, 2013

The College of Social Science at Michigan State University has completed a strategic planning process to develop a renewed strategic vision and agenda. We have created a measurable plan of action for moving the College toward an enhanced level of achievement over the period 2012 to 2016. Our work has already begun.

Our plan seeks to improve the performance and impact of the College of Social Science across its research, teaching, and outreach and engagement missions. Our intent is to create a compelling vision for the future of the College, linked to a set of integrated goals, strategies and metrics that can guide us toward our shared institutional purpose with the larger University and enable selective investment in high priority areas.

Adopting this plan will enable us to continue partnering with the STEMM disciplines in the wider University community and across the globe to realize the University’s Bolder by Design imperatives. We also will undertake new initiatives that more fully realize the potential of the social, behavioral and economic sciences.

Faculty, staff, and students will benefit from this plan through increased resources and opportunities in the College. Our prospective students, graduates, donors and other stakeholders will benefit from stronger programs that enhance the value of a College of Social Science degree. The College will benefit from a sharpened focus and the ability to enhance our networks.

With nearly 400 points of contact over the past year, many thoughtful minds and committed individuals helped develop this plan. During 2012-13, the College engaged in a collaborative and inclusive process to involve key constituent groups within the College to ensure that many voices were heard and multiple points of view were taken into consideration. Each person’s participation was essential to shaping the plan and identifying specific steps required to increase overall excellence throughout the College. The continued involvement of our faculty, staff, students and alumni will be critical to our success in implementing the plan going forward, as will be guidance and support from University Administration.

This strategic plan is a dynamic working document that will evolve. We will revisit this document annually, reflect upon our learning experiences, and refine it with our emerging understanding.

Our Mission
To create, disseminate, and apply knowledge in the social, behavioral and economic sciences, and to enhance what we know through interactions with other disciplines and professions across campus and beyond. We are committed to advancing knowledge by gaining a deeper understanding of the human and social dimensions of the world around us, and the relations of those dimensions to the natural and technological worlds. We transform lives through collaborative learning and responsive engagement with people and communities, both locally and globally. By advancing knowledge and transforming lives, we join our university in making lasting contributions to the larger society in which we are situated.

Our Vision for the Future: 2016
On MSU’s campus, as well as nationally and internationally, the College of Social Science and its units are acknowledged as connected, innovative, intellectual leaders in the social, behavioral and economic sciences, known for the following characteristics:

  • Investing in research, teaching, and outreach and engagement platforms and initiatives to advance knowledge and transform lives in three broad interdisciplinary areas of focus: environment and global change; human development and health; and diverse populations, equity, and security with justice;
  • Continuing to build on our partnerships with STEMM disciplines while also emphasizing strengths in the area of global diversity and engagement;
  • Developing and sustaining platforms and initiatives at global scale by learning how to connect with strategic international partners who can: expand our access to global talent; provide research resources needed to address global problems; and work with us to achieve grants and awards from international agencies that are available only when we participate as a member of a multi-national coalition;
  • Building upon an emerging success model that invests College resources in platforms and initiatives that are led by committed senior faculty and interdisciplinary teams with proven track records of attracting externally competitive financial resources;
  • Establishing innovative academic programs and experiential learning opportunities that make the College of Social Science a destination college for diverse undergraduate students nationally and internationally;
  • Envisioning, developing and implementing organizational innovations that can enable our College and its constituent academic units to achieve goals more effectively and efficiently;
  • Applying technology more creatively to pursue all of the goals in this strategic plan.

The College will continue to support and sustain the core research, educational and outreach programs upon which the College’s and University’s focal platforms are based, and without which they would not be possible, through annual resource allocation programs.

Our Values

  • Ethical conduct, especially honesty and integrity in all that we do;
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship – not only the energetic spirit that enables us to survive and thrive in challenging times, but also our budgeting model;
  • Communication and connectivity – maintaining open lines of communication and collaboration amongst the deans’ offices, all of our constituent groups, and University Administration;
  • Diversity and inclusion: demographic and intellectual – there should be no demographic or intellectual litmus tests for any program in this College; it is an open marketplace of ideas;
  • Mutual respect, civility, and courtesy – keywords: tolerance and collegiality;
  • Sharing resources with our partners – we must invest if we expect a return.

Goals and Objectives for 2016
Our vision and goals are the foundation for the College’s objectives. There are two categories of goals: Mission-Oriented Goals and Supporting Goals. A Mission-Oriented Goal is directly tied to furthering the research, teaching, and outreach of our College mission. A Supporting Goal provides resources that help to enhance and sustain the efforts of the Mission-Oriented Goals. An objective serves as a tool for evaluation of the College’s progress toward its vision and a strategy is a specific initiative the College will undertake to achieve those larger objectives. Objectives and strategies evolve with experience, while goals generally remain in place during the period of a strategic plan.

Next Steps
The implementation process will proceed in phases. We will begin with those strategies that are most fundamental and most necessary to our future success. We will build on the progress of these strategies to continue the momentum necessary to address strategies that require more advanced preparation. The College also will utilize a coordinated campaign approach, which means that units and individuals within the College may pursue other strategies that support our goals. Two-way communication throughout the year will let everyone know what is happening, and provide opportunities for input and feedback.

Goal 1—Interdisciplinary Focus Areas of Investment

(Bolder by Design I-VI)

In previous cycles of strategic planning, the College of Social Science committed significant effort to identifying College-based “signature programs” to focus future strategic investments in our areas of greatest strength. Criteria for signature programs include external validation of excellence and alignment with Michigan State University’s key strategic initiatives; e.g., environment, health, methodology and technology, inclusion/diversity, and global engagement.

We have attempted to align our mission and investments with institutional priorities to contribute effectively to MSU’s mission of advancing knowledge and transforming lives. The term focus summarizes the objective of our strategic planning – to focus our investments in areas where the College may be of most value to MSU as a whole. We began with 37 signature programs as a means to identify program areas in which the College and University had invested in the past. From there we identified six cross-cutting themes, which became priority areas of investment in the second strategic plan. We made the argument that many of these themes were related to STEMM and global engagement and diversity.

In this third strategic plan, we further focus on three broad areas of research, education, and outreach and engagement, in which our learning experiences have demonstrated that we have had the greatest success in attracting resources over the past five years. These three focal areas are: Environment and Global Change; Human Development and Health; and Diverse Populations, Equity and Security with Justice. Each of these three areas represents the integration of two or more of the six themes identified in our second strategic plan.

Our environmental scan of Michigan State University as an institution and the larger competitive context suggests that we must learn how to invest limited College of Social Science resources in ways that will best sustain and ensure future success for the social, behavioral and economic sciences at MSU. While our internal resource allocation processes will continue to support core programs (i.e., hiring excellent faculty in core programs), we also will call for new ideas that support interdisciplinary platforms/initiatives that are led by senior faculty and interdisciplinary teams with proven track records in one of the three focal areas noted above (see Figure 1.), and present these to the University Administration with recommendations for internal support, and/or provide additional College resources to enable launch. Based on the learning experiences of the College from the time of the previous Dean until now, we believe that such platforms/initiatives may be good prospects for success, given strong leadership and adequate support (e.g., Environment and Global Change).

Interdisciplinary Focal Areas
The three interdisciplinary focal areas chosen for Goal One have deep roots in the College of Social Science. Within each focal area are several platforms and initiatives led by senior faculty and interdisciplinary teams that have track records of success in competitive external funding, and/or have been awarded support by the University or the College for launch. Environment and Global Change is the most venerable, with a twenty-year history that dates back to the previous Dean’s administration. It encompasses well known programs such as the Center for Global Change and Earth Observation (CGCEO) and the Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP), now celebrating its 10th year anniversary. This focal area is linked to several other Colleges around campus and enjoys funding support from several federal agencies (see Appendix A for a brief description of the platforms/initiatives included in each focal area). Human Development and Health is the next most well established domain within the College. This area was founded with the Human Development Initiative that brought together researchers from across campus under the leadership of the Department of Psychology to nurture intellectual networks that could foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the rapidly expanding field of human development. This area has since been supported through the Michigan Twins Registry, the Economics and Education Program, and is growing through the Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Initiative and the new Brain Initiative.

In this strategic plan, we have developed a new area of emphasis – Diverse Populations, Equity, and Security with Justice. This focal area is grounded in our previously noted signature programs and thematic strengths, and was inaugurated with our successful Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection center (A-CAPP). We are now expanding this focal area to include additional platforms/initiatives that are more inclusive of faculty across the College who have interests that are classically aligned with the social sciences and humanities, and also have proven relevant and attractive to external constituents and sponsors.

The establishment of these three focal areas not only enables us to continue to build partnerships with STEMM disciplines and global institutions, reflecting the continuing priorities of the College, but it also is intended to help us further focus our resources in ways that will enable us to build networks and connectivity across our areas of strength, thereby creating new synergies that facilitate additional success in attracting partners (both internal and external to MSU) and add substantial new sponsorships by external sponsors.

The three focal areas themselves have fertile areas of overlap that are only now being explored by groups of faculty in the College, and they are bringing new intellectual excitement to our academic units, e.g., as seen in our 2013 Synergy Summit on Global Change Science. This Summit meeting demonstrates the potential connections among areas in the College that heretofore had not collaborated in research funding, including the areas of global change science, global urban studies, human migration and population movement, and security.

These efforts align with each of the Bolder by Design imperatives. This core strategic vision for the College crosses research, education, and outreach and engagement programs; it is global in scope; and its implementation will move our faculty to a new level of achievement by cultivating higher performance expectations and efficiencies.

Goal 1 Vision 2016
The College of Social Science has succeeded in sustaining and further developing its core disciplinary and professional strengths through careful stewardship and internal investment. It has further enhanced its focus, connectivity, and leadership in the social, behavioral and economic sciences. Strong interdisciplinary, cross-university and global partnership endeavors are in evidence, especially in three focal areas: 1) Environment and Global Change; 2) Human Development and Health; and 3) Diverse Populations, Equity, and Security with Justice. Global engagement and international reach are important components of each of the focal areas, and each of these is supported by international sponsors, organizational innovations, and new uses of technology.

College of Social Science
Focal Areas of Research, Education, and Outreach


Figure 1.
See Appendix A for a brief summary of the platforms and initiatives examples included in Figure 1.


  • Sustain and improve the ratings and rankings of the College’s disciplinary programs are sustained and improved.
  • Enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and graduate students and link both to maintaining strong disciplinary programs as well as building research platforms and initiative across the three interdisciplinary focal areas.
  • Continue College facilitation of and support for senior faculty and interdisciplinary teams in launching platforms and initiatives in the focal areas and acts as a stimulus for excellence in developing new cross-unit, cross-College and global partnership proposals.
  • Ensure that the units’ intellectual assets are engaged in major strategic University initiatives and supports faculty in taking leadership roles where appropriate.
  • College of Social Science Strategic Plan 2012-2016 | Page 7
  • Further develop the College’s capacity to envision, propose, and support major, significant grant-funded research initiatives.
  • Engage in outreach efforts to enrich family and community life as these are linked to strong programs of interdisciplinary research and education.


  • Invest in new and emerging research platforms and educational and outreach/engagement programs that connect with Michigan State University priorities and have been proven excellent through external validation.
  • Encourage strong faculty leadership of these platforms and collaboration with other faculty across Michigan State, at other universities, and with strategic global partners (e.g., connectivity with Brazil, China and southern Africa).
  • Identify and seize opportunities to recruit leading-edge scholars in the three focal areas, especially those that enhance our relationships with strategic global partners.
  • Support workshops that bring together interdisciplinary groups of faculty to explore new and emerging areas of mutual interest that can lead to funding proposals, and national and international recognition of our strengths (see also Goal 6).
  • Work with faculty leaders to identify new sources of external support for our programs, including globally-based resources, and build a success model that attracts new resources to our core strengths.
  • Continue to utilize an RFP process for new platforms within or across the three focal areas.
  • Encourage and support organizational and technological innovations that support platforms and initiatives in the focal areas, especially those that build connectivity with strategic global partners.
  • Build outreach components into selected platforms that enrich family and community life.

Suggested Metrics
Number and type of new collaborations that evolve from thematic workshop events; number of platform proposals submitted in response to RFP process; platforms and initiatives involving global partners and resources; invitations to participate in University-wide initiatives; number of faculty positions awarded; number of SPG proposals funded; funding related to global projects and awards from international agencies; external rankings and ratings; related scholarly publications in highly ranked journals and presses; faculty leadership in disciplines and professions; related enhancements in the quality, profile and placement of graduate students, and competitive doctoral fellowships for graduate students.

Goal 2—Foster Research Excellence and Connectivity

(Bolder by Design I, IV-VI)

Research and scholarly inquiry are integral to the mission of a world-class institution of higher education such as Michigan State University and its College of Social Science (CSS), and they are important components of the portfolio of every academic Department and School in the College of Social Science. The importance of this goal was set forth in the CSS Research and Scholarship Guidelines, adopted by the College Faculty Advisory Committee and promulgated on April 18, 2013 (view PDF online).

At Michigan State University, our faculty advance knowledge and transform lives through their research and scholarship: the process of discovery, analysis, and interpretation delivered through publications in refereed academic journals and scholarly peer-reviewed books and other forms of publication (e.g., law review articles, peer-reviewed chapters for edited books, reports to sponsors), as well as presentations delivered at academic and professional meetings. Excellence in research and scholarship is the foundation upon which we achieve our goals; it attracts outstanding faculty and students to further advance our sciences and academic communities, it builds the foundation for our curriculum, it guides our application of knowledge, and it informs our program investment decisions.

This research goal is aligned with the Bolder by Design strategic imperatives for enhancing the student experience, increasing research, expanding international reach, and advancing our culture of high performance by recognizing our intellectual strengths, encouraging faculty to address the grand challenges facing society in this century, and raising expectations to broaden their scope of success. We will pursue this goal as one of our primary missions, while being mindful of our responsibility to work with the University in securing resources to support this mission.

Goal 2 Vision 2016
The College builds on and enhances strengths in knowledge creation and dissemination. It calls for all Departments and Schools to demonstrate research impact and contribute to our resource base to support externally sponsored research. Research support is viewed as an important means to an end to developing high quality publications, generating high impact via citations and awards, and strengthening our capacity to recruit and retain sought-after faculty and students. The College will invest wisely to enhance research productivity while setting high expectations for faculty.


  • Implement the College of Social Science Research and Scholarship Guidelines, beginning 2013-14.
  • Demonstrate continued progress in knowledge creation through high impact scholarly publications.
  • Improve external rankings of graduate programs.
  • Promote excellence in targeted interdisciplinary research of high social value.
  • Engage Departments and Schools in a process aimed at continuously increasing external support for their research programs.
  • Expect each faculty member to contribute to the scholarly research mission of his/her academic unit in a manner appropriate to individual strengths and life cycle stage.
  • Link undergraduate teaching and learning to the research missions of the academic programs.
  • Sustain and enhance the global dimensions of our research and scholarship programs.


  • Each unit develops a new or revised research plan that identifies how it defines and assesses research and scholarly outputs.
  • Each unit maintains a program for mentoring junior faculty, according to University policy.
  • The Deans’ Office and academic units will ensure that each faculty member contributes to the research enterprise.
    • Each academic unit ensures that assistant professors seek external support for their research either as a project director, principal investigator, or as key personnel supported by grants or contracts prior to their first reappointment.
    • Excellence in research and evidence of external support are required for promotion to Full Professor.
    • Faculty later in their careers who are no longer highly research active with externally sponsored programs may contribute in other ways (e.g., mentoring in teaching; establishing/maintaining connections to global partners).
  • The Deans’ Office will establish a new funding mechanism to support graduate assistants in order to strengthen graduate student and faculty research.
  • The Deans’ Office and academic units will expand a program to support faculty who seek to improve their sponsored research proposals through engagement with external experts.
  • The Deans’ Office will establish a new “Social Science Research Fellows” program for highly productive senior faculty to facilitate responses to major funding opportunities, including research with strategic global partners.
  • The Deans’ Office will establish a communication process to provide formal feedback from Provost Office meetings with the Deans’ Office to academic units and faculty in the Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure (RPT) process.
  • The Deans’ Office and academic units will establish routines for reviewing all candidates for RPT prior to submission of dossiers and facilitating productive conversations amongst these offices.
  • •The Deans’ Office and academic units will ensure that research expectations of new faculty are made clear at hiring and maintained throughout the RPT process.
  • • The Deans’ Office will develop and implement methods to enable faculty across disciplines and professions to meet for discussion of shared research interests (e.g., Synergy Summits), including research that emphasizes strategic global partnerships.
  • The Deans’ Office will revise the Research and Scholarship Guidelines to incorporate a new section on the importance of undergraduate research, with appropriate action items.

Suggested Metrics
External rankings and ratings of programs; citations and awards per tenure FTE; total number of proposals submitted; total number of proposals funded; total grant dollars; total grant dollars per FTE tenure system faculty; total indirect cost recovery; number of faculty in Research Fellows program and grant dollars per FTE funded; communication-related enhancements in RPT process.

Goal 3—Enhance Student Experience with a Comprehensive Outcomes-Based Approach

(Bolder by Design I)

The teaching mission of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University focuses on applied learning in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. As a core college, we seek not only to provide exceptional undergraduate and graduate educational experiences, but also to provide an excellent integrative learning experience for all students at MSU through the Integrative Social Science core curriculum. In each role the College provides high-quality, engaged learning experiences for students that prepare them to meet their academic and career goals and to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems by integrating social science approaches with those of other fields.

Our strategic plan for undergraduate education, the “Five Pillars,” has been developed to enable the College to successfully implement its new, cutting-edge curriculum beginning in Fall 2014, which includes completion of a college interdisciplinary minor and three credits of experiential learning. The Five Pillars—recruitment, retention, engagement, graduation, and placement—represent our belief that each student’s learning experience must be seen as a comprehensive four-to-six-year relationship with the College and its majors that must result in student success. The Five Pillars provide an interface between the College and the Neighborhoods in providing enhanced academic support to students. The Five Pillars represents the commitment of the College to transform its teaching culture into a quality and value oriented, outcomes-based, hands-on, and enriched environment that prepares students for success in a globalized world.

This goal aligns with the Bolder by Design strategic imperative to enhance the student experience by implementing practices that support undergraduate student learning and success, link curriculum more closely to research strengths, and measurably improve their outcomes. It also addresses the College’s overarching goal of becoming a destination college for high potential and career-oriented students.

Goal 3 Vision 2016
Through enhancements to be initiated under the Five Pillars, student learning and success are to be improved by increased teaching quality and innovation in the curriculum, academic support services, and career exposure for all students. The Social Science Scholars Program and other programs for high performing students will be launched as a way to develop and model interdisciplinary, global curricula at the nexus of cutting edge social science research and education. A diverse faculty and staff serve as the foundation for implementing this goal. Graduate education is strengthened.


  • Recruit and engage high-performing students in the social sciences.
  • Increase GPA, ACT/SAT scores for incoming freshman cohort to university averages.
  • Increase diversity of student cohort.
  • Increase admissions yield rate.
  • Meet and exceed MSU 2-year retention rates.
  • Meet and exceed MSU progress in closing the “achievement gap.”
  • Ensure that all Social Science graduates have an applied or experiential learning experience.
  • Increase participation in study abroad, study away, internship, service learning, and undergraduate research.
  • Keep pace with university 6-year graduation rate targets.
  • Decrease College time and credits to degree to university rates or below.
  • Meet MSU placement rate as College.
  • Improve lower-tier units’ placement rates to within 5% of university rates.
  • Enhance technological innovation within the curriculum.
  • Identify and pursue emerging opportunities to provide online degrees, certificates, and courses (including MOOCs)


  • Implement College core curriculum revisions (i.e., new Minors).
  • Revisit and revitalize programs to enhance the quality of teaching in the Center for Integrative Studies, and promote successful programs across the College to encourage innovation.
  • Encourage adoption of successful teaching innovations in academic units.
  • Launch Social Science Scholars Program in partnership with Honors College.
  • Encourage development of Scholars programs in College academic units.
  • Launch partnership with Office of Admissions and alumni for recruitment efforts.
  • Expand the Provost’s shared funding scholarships program among units.
  • Develop pre-enrollment programs for incoming students.
  • Conduct a review of College academic advising.
  • Focus College advisor development on best practices to identify students that are struggling academically and to intervene effectively.
  • Add new first- and second-year active learning opportunities as needed.
  • Develop new study abroad, study away, and service learning opportunities in collaboration with the faculty and units of the College. Collaborate with stakeholders (including Career Services, academic advisors, peer colleges, and alumni) to develop new career exposure, planning, and placement opportunities.
  • Regularly review study abroad, study away, and service learning components of the curriculum to ensure quality student experiences.
  • Integrate support for graduate study within the new curriculum and related experiential learning options.

Suggested Metrics
Total number of majors; total student credit hours; student learning assessment of the new college requirements; one year retention rate; participation in study abroad, study away, and/or internships; six-year graduation rate; time to degree; placement rates; donor funding for the Social Science Scholars Program(s); employer satisfaction.

Goal 4—Enhance Resource Development through Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Advancement Efforts

(Bolder by Design V)

The College takes an entrepreneurial, comprehensive approach to resource development. We strive to achieve a mixed balance of funding by competitively earning federally sponsored research dollars and attracting private dollars from generous individuals and organizations, as well as other sources. Obtaining a diversified mix of resources is a means to achieve our mission, not a mission itself, and it enables us to conduct outstanding research, recruit excellent faculty, staff and students, and enhance our ability to contribute to the intellectual leadership of the University.

Our efforts to broaden revenue streams align with the Bolder by Design imperative to strengthen stewardship resources, enhance undergraduate education, increase research opportunities, and advance our culture of high performance by intentionally and thoughtfully developing resources to strengthen our ability to conduct outstanding research and provide excellent learning opportunities.

Goal 4 Vision 2016
The College continues to expand its income from private philanthropic support, research grants, contracts and other sources. Strategic initiatives and collaborative partnerships among our internal and external constituencies attract significant financial support to enhance our scholarship capacity in the College.


  • Mirror the University’s distribution balance of general and non-general fund revenue.
  • Follow the College development plan and the development plans of each unit for securing additional resources needed to support our mission-oriented goals.
  • Build on the foundation created through the last capital campaign and embark on the next comprehensive campaign set to go public in 2014.
  • Increase average annual fundraising results to $10M/year.
  • Engage more academic units actively in full suite of fundraising activities.
  • Develop a plan to enhance online course enrollments beyond the MSU campus, in line with the University’s policies, to attract new students to CSS courses and programs.


  • Enhance development activity and increase philanthropic support (in progress):
    • Identify and qualify the top 1,000 prospects from expanded alumni population of over 90,000 and implement ongoing communication and cultivation strategies to secure future financial support.
    • Develop College and unit-specific fundraising priorities.
    • Work with faculty to match donor interests with unit needs.
    • Partner with the units to provide engagement opportunities for alumni that steward current donors and cultivate new prospects.
  • Develop joint research, programmatic and fundraising strategies to increase financial support for graduate student education.
  • Ensure that the framework and goals for the emerging capital campaign reflect the major goals in this strategic plan.
  • Increase revenue secured by research grant submissions and awarded contracts and associated indirect costs through development of unit strategic plans and annual review of results.
  • Develop additional successful business models for entrepreneurial activity and share best practices among the key constituencies within and beyond the College of Social Science.
  • Develop partnerships with other institutions and disciplines to leverage access to interdisciplinary and international funding streams.
  • Expand target markets to increase online course revenue.
  • Identify and assess selected professional activities to distinguish between fee for service and applied research.
  • Hire an intercultural specialist in the Deans’ Office and launch summer program for students from China.

Suggested Metrics
Total gifts and pledges; total documented planned gifts; increases in gifts and pledges by academic unit; new markets for virtual courses; total virtual course revenue; total grants from international agencies and donors.

Goal 5—Sustain and Enhance an Intercultural and Inclusive Community

(Bolder by Design V-VI)

Diversity at many levels—gender, ethnic, intellectual, sexual orientation, cultural, socioeconomic—provides opportunities to grow, learn, and share across differences and to begin to see the similarities that lie within and beyond these differences. Diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences enhance the richness of our world and encompass both academic and administrative activities.

As scholars with a commitment to people within the context of their environment, the community of social, behavioral, and economic sciences at MSU studies, teaches, and engages through a lens of diversity, inclusion, and equity. These matters permeate the context within which we study people and groups, and our approach to them is comprehensive.

Our efforts toward a more diverse and inclusive community align with the Bolder by Design imperatives to strengthen stewardship; enhance the student experience; enrich community, economic and family life; expand international reach; increase research opportunities; and advance our culture of high performance. As our environment of inclusivity expands, so do the possibilities for outstanding teaching, learning, and research.

Goal 5 Vision 2016
The College provides quality support through programs and initiatives that foster a community climate that acknowledges and appreciates cultural, ethnic, socio-economic, linguistic, socio-linguistic, sexual orientation, and geographical diversity. Inclusion, diversity, and equity are embedded in research, education, and engagement across the College. The College is an exemplar of how these aspects of human life should be studied, considered, taught, and practiced.


  • Maintain the College of Social Science Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusive Affairs (OEDIA) that supports and enhances the College’s commitment to an inclusive community.
  • Provide services that are aligned with the College’s vision to foster leadership, oversight, and an infrastructure for supporting an intercultural and inclusive community.
  • Support an inclusive environment for all faculty, staff and students, especially in the areas of recruitment, retention, and leadership development.
  • Provide information, consultation, support, and resources to the College of Social Science community with regard to diversity, harassment, discrimination, and disability.
  • Manage and support the University’s compliance efforts in areas of diversity and inclusion with respect to all applicable State and Federal civil rights laws.
  • Assist linking faculty, staff, and students to the necessary resource structures within and outside the College.
  • Enhance efforts to support inclusion and diversity values for graduate students and graduate education.
  • Develop programming (see Goal 3 under retention and engagement) to improve student outcomes for underrepresented and disadvantaged students.
  • Ensure that special College-wide programs of research and education (i.e., Social Science Scholars Program) include diversity and inclusion values in both content and participants.
  • Provide ongoing attention to the development and sustainment of an intercultural curriculum.


  • Offer individual consultation with department chairs and directors, supervisors, faculty, staff, and students.
  • Participate in MSU ADVANCE program initiatives to develop ways to improve our practice for equity for women and persons of color in the professoriate.
  • Maintain FEA (Faculty Excellence Advocate) role at the Associate Dean level where diversity, equity, and inclusion are an area of expertise. Stay abreast of best practices in this field and implement them.
  • Provide an on-going, College-wide training/program initiative that prioritizes and addresses recurring issues/concerns being reported.
  • Work collaboratively with entities within and outside of the College to ensure access and support for necessary resources.
  • Collaboratively develop programming to improve student outcomes for underrepresented students.
  • Establish a web presence to facilitate sharing information and providing updates around issues relating to our inclusive efforts.
  • Collaboratively develop programmatic efforts to support of inclusion and diversity values for graduate learning and successful student outcomes.
  • Incorporate information related to our inclusion efforts into existing and other appropriate communications with the College community.
  • Assist with inclusive recruitment efforts to ensure national and international diversity of high-performing undergraduate students for the Social Science Scholars Program.
  • Collaboratively work to ensure that global research efforts in the College are inclusive with initiatives that attract and support diverse faculty engagement.

Suggested Metrics
Percentage of women and underrepresented/faculty of color compared to national availability data; trends in percentage of women and underrepresented/faculty of color in the units and College; percentage of underrepresented students (graduate and undergraduate); results of ADAPP work environment survey; graduation rates for underserved populations.

Goal 6—Communicate Excellence in Intellectual Leadership to Promote Awareness, Enhance Reputation, and Inspire Innovation

(Bolder by Design IV-VI)

By being thoughtful about when, where, among whom, and how communication takes place, we can shape messages, frame conversations, and seize opportunities for success. It is a powerful tool that can be integrated into our mission-oriented activities to boost interactions that spark great scholarship, make connections for research opportunities, strengthen the learning experience for our students, and engage alumni.

Most objectives and strategies within this goal overlap with objectives and strategies of other goals within this strategic plan to leverage those activities for added benefit. Creating opportunities for and following up on the important communication that happens in these activities has the potential to strengthen the outcomes.

The communications goal aligns with Bolder by Design imperatives to enhance research and advance our culture of high performance by targeting interactions between and among our key constituencies to maximize opportunities for success and leadership and by encouraging alumni support.

Goal 6 Vision 2016
The College utilizes communication as a fundamental connector. It connects news of outstanding research and engagement stories with key external audiences. It stimulates increased interdisciplinary and innovative research among scholars within the College and University by connecting potential collaborators. The College promotes its unique strengths through the implementation of a strategic communication plan that identifies target audiences, key messages, and appropriate channels for dissemination.


  • Strengthen the perception of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences at MSU as a diverse and dynamic intellectual community that is central to understanding and addressing the myriad challenges facing our world at local and global levels.
  • Leverage connectivity activities to promote communication between scholars and to inspire innovative solutions within research platforms.
  • Increase scholarly interaction between and among intellectual leaders in the College.
  • Build awareness of the expertise in the College available to policy and decision makers.
  • Enhance a sense of community within the College among faculty, staff and students.
  • Reinforce the sense of an organization worthy of investment by alumni and donors with specific targeted messages related to capital campaign priorities.
  • Ensure the College’s intellectual assets are included in major strategic communication activities as the University tells the MSU story.


  • Establish regular opportunities for faculty at all levels and across disciplines to network with the Dean, Associate Deans, and among themselves.
  • Communicate regularly with “Social Science Research Fellows” (see College of Social Science Research and Scholarship Guidelines) to encourage large-scale, collaborative research initiatives.
  • Sponsor workshops around areas of research strength. Invite selected scholars in the College to present their research and discuss prospective areas of overlap or new lines of inquiry.
  • Utilize the Social Science Scholars program to connect the best faculty with high performing undergraduate students.
  • Consider ways in which the Office of Survey Research could support the visibility of the College.
  • Maintain and expand the current program of consistent communication with alumni to advance development messages through print and online efforts.
  • Engage the faculty in translating basic research findings into communications that demonstrate the impact of research on the University’s communities and society at large.
  • Leverage alumni and donor events to engage faculty, across disciplines when possible, and serve as part of the strategy to communicate with alumni the research strengths of the College.
  • Strengthen collaboration with the University’s Media Communications team to tell newsworthy stories of outstanding scholarship.
  • Link College marketing messages to University themes and priorities.
  • Provide communications consultation to formal and informal communicators within the College.

Suggested Metrics
Number of research-centered articles in MSU Today that are originated by the College; number of programs and/or communication tactics introduced to faculty, including positive evaluations by faculty and the number of new faculty connections made; measurement of usage of online communication tools; culture surveys of faculty, staff and students; number of College-related stories included in University-wide publications.

Goal 7—Cultivate and Steward a Dynamic, High Performing Organization

(Bolder by Design V-VI)

The College of Social Science strives for excellence every day. It is a dynamic, complex organization that requires persistent and continuous innovative efforts to promote a high performance and stewardship orientation.

Ensuring that rewards and incentives are appropriately and commensurately structured and attached to the individual members of the organization is an integral, ongoing obligation. Our goals and objectives must be aligned with the tangible and intangible rewards that our members receive. These threads of organizational excellence are embedded throughout the strategic plan as well as within this goal.

This goal is most clearly aligned with the Bolder by Design imperative of advancing our culture of high performance and stewarding our resources. We recognize human capital is the College’s greatest asset, and we must nurture, support, and challenge scholars, staff, and students to reach new levels of excellence.

Goal 7 Vision 2016
The College works continually to raise and exceed performance expectations. It develops new initiatives to renew and emphasize a service orientation in the Dean’s Office and throughout the College. It manages resources effectively, efficiently and transparently. It strives to enhance the value of our assets and resources by everything we do.


  • Continuously seek ways to serve the needs of our faculty, staff, and students through responsible and strategic leadership.
  • Develop and/or implement policies to recruit and retain scholars with demonstrated evidence of excellence who can contribute to strategic research and education programs.
  • Develop means to obtain feedback from key constituents to identify issues and concerns that the College’s leadership can respond to.
  • Develop processes to ensure the responsible and effective management and care of our physical, informational, financial and human assets.
  • Seek to ensure integrity and add value to our College and University in everything we do.
  • Envision, develop, and implement innovations and creative approaches to organization, partnering, coalitions, and the use of technology that will enable us to achieve our goals and realize new opportunities in the challenging environment of the 21st century.
  • Encourage continued training for faculty and staff.


  • Increase the use of metrics of quality to guide the allocation of College resources.
  • Improve the continuous cycle of program review for all of the units in our College.
  • Implement College Research and Scholarship Guidelines to attract the best scholars in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.
  • Develop organizational, administrative, and cultural practices that ensure the steady progress of Associate Professors toward full professorship while they serve the College’s many programs and gain administrative leadership experience.
  • Deploy technology to support specific dimensions of the strategic plan (e.g., global partnering; MOOCs and branding; online markets, and so on).
  • Ensure continuous alignment with the University’s Bolder by Design imperatives.
  • Assist the College community to develop succession plans for leadership positions throughout the College, including all Chairs, Directors, Associate Deans and Dean positions.
  • Maintain and enhance the quality of our facilities, the security of our information, the development of our human resources, and the stewardship of our endowments.
  • Establish a faculty development program whereby junior faculty across disciplines meet and learn about the research policies and resources of the College.
  • Connect our intellectual assets to economic development efforts in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region in order to seek ways to return value to our community.
  • Ensure College practices are in by-law compliance.

Suggested Metrics
Value of upgrades to College facilities; faculty development programs offered annually and results of evaluation of these programs; College policies posted on College website; Academic Program Review cycle posted on College website; engagement in economic development programs.

Appendix A

The following are brief descriptions of projects/platforms incorporated in Figure 1. Each of the initiatives listed below is research-based; some include education and/or outreach components. All are cross-unit collaborations that have demonstrated the ability to attract Federal, University, and/or College funding.


The Bioeconomy and Global Climate Change initiative represents a hybrid of activities at the intersection of climate change research and the emerging bioeconomy. The program is advancing innovation in both mitigation and adaptation research; projects range from efforts to optimize global climate models for the Great Lakes regions to investigating how global carbon markets affect human actions and effectively regulate transactions and processes.

Center for Global Change and Earth Observations
Linking remote sensing technology with the effort to understand land use and land cover change from the perspective of geography, the Center’s goal is to improve our understanding of the intersections among the human, land and climate systems in a global context.

Environmental Science and Policy Program
The Environmental Science and Policy Program facilitates environmental research at MSU and links MSU research with national and international research priorities. It offers graduate education programming and works to make the University’s expertise in environmental research more visible in national and global efforts.

Global Change Science Initiative
This initiative grew out of the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations. Its mission is to deliver to society the knowledge and information needed to assess the risks humanity is facing at a regional level from global changes and to understand how society can effectively mitigate potentially dangerous changes and cope with or adapt to the changes we cannot manage.

Water Initiative
The social sciences (e.g., geographical, social, political, and economic sciences) are participating in the University-wide Water Initiative to understand the relationships among water resources and societal and ecological dynamics that need to be strengthened so that we can arrive at effective mitigation and adaption solutions. Expertise of the College’s faculty in assessing the cultural, social, economic and political dimensions of alternative water management programs contribute to the development of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) models and imaginative solutions for the grand challenge of providing sustainable, clean water resources for everyone.


Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
The Autism and Intellectual Disabilities initiative is a new University-wide program to advance transdisciplinary research and scholarship that focuses on the causes, consequences, and treatment of Intellectual Disabilities arising across the lifespan. The College’s contribution to the initiative focuses on systems-level functioning in children to impart new expertise in neural and/or physiological mechanisms regulating learning impairment in areas such as cognitive function and social interaction, and computational genetics to support analysis of the large databases containing information on genomic/molecular mechanisms.

Brain Initiative
The College of Social Science is actively participating in this University-wide initiative. Our faculty are studying how brains respond to dynamic sensory input in the service of action, the cognitive and neural bases of learning, memory, attention, cognitive control and decision making, and the development of computational models of these processes.

Economics of Education
The pre-doctoral training program in Economics of Education is co-created by the Colleges of Social Science and Education. The program provides specialized doctoral training that combines rigorous methodological skills with hands-on research experience. The interdisciplinary program is focused on the best approaches to answer questions such as how teacher quality is linked to student achievement and whether loan policies influence College completion rates. Fellows in the program are admitted to one of six MSU doctoral programs, then complete a specialization through courses that focus on the application of statistical methods to practical problems of education, using the lens of economics to frame the question. The program is sponsored by a $5 million award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

Healthy Organizations
This emerging platform is developing a program of research to study the impact of organizational interventions on the physical and mental health of the organizational members along with the impact of these interventions on the viability of the organization itself.

Human Development Initiative
The Human Development Initiative was established to connect researchers and build networks for cross-cutting, interdisciplinary work that explores health and human welfare issues and the complexity of interactions between environmental and genetic factors as they influence human development across the life span.

Michigan Twin Registry
The Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR) is a population-based twin registry, developed and maintained by faculty in the College of Social Science’s Department of Psychology. The registry contains information about over 22,000 twins and their families born throughout the state of Michigan. The primary purpose of the MSUTR is to examine the role of genetic/neurobiological risk, environmental factors, and gene-environment interplay in the development of major psychiatric (e.g., depression, eating disorders, antisocial behavior), medical (e.g., sleep disorders, cancer) and neurodevelopmental (e.g., autism, cerebral palsy) disorders. Data collected from MSUTR twins and their families in the past five years has already led to discoveries that have the potential to inform treatment and prevention efforts for a range of psychiatric and medical conditions that carry significant consequences for individual and public health.



Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP)
The Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection was established to address the emergence of a global market in product profiteering through counterfeiting, adulteration, and contamination of foods, pharmaceuticals, and other products, which poses significant threats to human health, economic viability, and the environment. The A-CAPP center has built an open source database on counterfeiting incidents. Researchers will use these data to determine patterns that will help to discover more about groups and networks that perpetrate these crimes, how to deter them, how to protect victims, and how to strengthen the efforts of those who guard against such activity.

Human Migration and Population Movements Initiative
This new initiative seeks to understand the impact that laws, policies and practices of states have on migration, both forced and voluntary; the role of kin and networks of contact (including flows of capital and other resources within groups) in shaping migration patterns both one-way and circular; and the ways in which gender and age shape migration.

Improving Supervision of Women Offenders
The overarching purpose of this initiative is to improve understanding and efficacy of the probation/parole supervision of women offenders; examine whether the style and content of supervision interactions predicts women’s recidivism and key related outcomes; and identify measurable dimensions of officers interactions that best predict outcomes so that these can be taught in training and education programs.

Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence
The Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence (RCGV) is a multidisciplinary group of faculty at Michigan State University engaged in community-based, collaborative research and evaluation that has practice and policy implications at local, state, national, and international levels. The consortium’s purpose is to provide a vehicle for MSU faculty and students to collaborate with each other and with community members to engage in a variety of research and outreach activities. RCGV faculty are also training the next generation of violence against women researchers by providing educational and employment opportunities to undergraduates, graduate students, and new investigators.