Faculty ask about non-STEM research at Senate meeting


Maria Lovato

David Luzzi presents to the Faculty Senate on Feb. 13 about the state of research at NU.

Maria Lovato, campus editor

Vice Provost for Research Innovation and Development David Luzzi gave a presentation on the state of student and faculty research at Northeastern during a Faculty Senate meeting Feb. 13, and fielded questions from faculty in the social sciences and humanities departments about how research is encouraged in their areas of study.

The key programs held by the Center for Research Innovation, including RISE and Gap Fund 360, are typically dominated by technology, engineering and business proposals, Luzzi said. And while he is very interested in getting the social sciences and humanities more involved with research, he said he is not sure how to organize support or resources for “creative arts research.”

“How do we facilitate more activity, that’s the question,” Luzzi said during his presentation, adding that Northeastern is on its way to becoming the first truly global research university, considering its rapid growth trajectory in research grant requests.

Some faculty worry that too much focus is being placed on research that can be commercialized. Jennie Stephens, the director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, said that in addition to the typical business and entrepreneurship ventures, there’s valuable research that has a social impact.

“I think it’s maybe just the word ‘entrepreneurship’ tends to be framed around making money,” she said. “And there’s a lot of research, social science research, that is more about humanity, the public good, and it’s not about making money.”

Luzzi also spoke about the impact of the government shutdown on NU. He said about 80 percent of Northeastern’s research funding is federal, and that NU had to use $4.6 million of its own money to sustain operations. After the shutdown ended, however, the federal government refunded the university in full.