Lehigh University is a premier research university, and from the beginning, it has been a champion of interdisciplinary research. Our first curriculum combined both classical education and the latest in contemporary technical and scientific knowledge.
Today, the university remains committed to this tradition. We understand that the problems facing our world transcend individual disciplines and departments; researchers from across academia must work together to address them.
One of the best ways to foster this necessary collaboration is through the development of clusters - small, cross-disciplinary groups of faculty united around a common intellectual theme, area of interest or problem - that provide the critical mass necessary to impact important new areas of scholarship, teaching and research.
The development of academic clusters at Lehigh helps broadly position the university for the future. Smaller and simpler than a center and not confined within a department or college, they have the agility to move into exciting new areas of scholarship and research.
Every year, the demand for energy increases around the world, along with concerns about cost, environmental impact and security. The development of “smart grids” that integrate a sophisticated information infrastructure with the power infrastructure will help meet this demand.
This cluster is focused on controlling and securing the three interrelated smart-grid flows—electricity, information and money. A multidisciplinary team of engineers, mathematicians and economists, it builds on Lehigh’s existing strengths in networking, communications, control and system operations.
The Integrated Networks for Electricity cluster has been awarded four positions, including one faculty member in economic modeling and another in the modeling of complex systems. A committee will consider the remaining two faculty positions from fields that include experimental smart grid systems, real-time systems and optimization of large-scale nonlinear networks.
Faculty Lead: Rick Blum, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science
The trans-Atlantic slave trade has permanently shaped many aspects of life in Africa and in the societies where people of African descent have settled. Any attempt to understand globalization, modern capitalism and the histories of Africa, the Americas and the world must include study of the slave trade and the African Diaspora.
This cluster strengthens the existing Africana Studies program, which brings together faculty from English, history, political science, sociology and anthropology, and theatre. It aims to add expertise in transnational approaches to the African Diaspora.
The Africana Studies cluster is overseen by a new director, James B. Peterson, associate professor of English. In addition, the cluster has been awarded four faculty positions in four possible fields of study: the history, literature, religions and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.
Faculty Lead: James Peterson, Department of English and Africana Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences
Each of the following clusters has received seed funding to help in its development. This funding will be used for a wide range of purposes, from bringing a speaker to Lehigh, to sending faculty to a conference, to helping support a post-doctoral student.
Prevention science is the study of diseases with the goal of preventing health and social problems. This cluster will take an ecological approach to devising interventions that are integrated into communities. Working at the intersection of medical, educational, economic and community systems, it will focus on children, adolescents and their families.
Faculty Lead: Ed Shapiro, Department of Education and Human Services, College of Education
We live in an increasingly interconnected world, where people, ideas and products are in constant movement. This cluster will focus on Asia as a way to understand these movements. It will also integrate the university’s disparate Asia-related research and programs into a thriving Asian Studies program that crosses disciplines and colleges.
Faculty Lead: Nicola Tannenbaum, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
Cognitive neuroscience is an emerging scientific frontier that has already reshaped behavioral science. This cluster focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of the complex, high-level processes involving coordination of multiple intercommunicating brain areas. It includes faculty from psychology, computer science and engineering.
Faculty Lead: Padraig O’Seaghdha, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
Stories shape every aspect of human existence, including religion, politics, health, education, and more. Stories take advantage of every human technology, from cave paintings to mobile phones. Humanity finds itself now in the era of digital storytelling, which can be defined broadly as storytelling aided by audio, video, photographs, text, animation and technologies to come. From the living room to the classroom, from FourSquare to Tahrir Square, digital storytelling is changing the world. Our multi-college cluster seeks to explore the creative possibilities, the pedagogical promise, and social, cultural and political implications of digital storytelling.
Faculty Lead: Jack Lule, Department of Journalism and Communication, College of Arts and Sciences
One in four people worldwide is Muslim, and Islam is the fastest-growing religion. But even at a time when Islam and the Muslim world are central to our geopolitical, cultural and social landscapes, ignorance of the religion is at an all-time high. This cluster aims to close this knowledge gap by strengthening the existing work of the Center for Global Islamic Studies, which is funded by a temporary grant.
Learn more about this cluster here >
Faculty Lead: Robert Rozehnal, Department of Religion Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
The greatest single challenge in healthcare is the healthcare delivery system, which is poorly managed, inefficient and unsustainable. This cluster focuses on fixing the system by integrating healthcare incentives with IT-enabled engineering systems. It includes faculty from industrial and systems engineering, computer science and engineering, management and economics.
Learn more about this cluster here >
Faculty Lead: Robert Storer, Department of Industrial Systems and Engineering, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science
This cluster will focus on applications of physics and chemistry to biological systems. It will complement and enhance ongoing activities in the Bioengineering Program and the Department of Biological Sciences. It will also involve faculty from physics, chemistry and chemical engineering.
Learn more about this cluster here>
Faculty Lead: Dimitrios Vavylonis, Department of Physics, College of Arts and Sciences
Public health is the science and art of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, advocacy and environmental improvements. Public health research provides the information we need to reduce health vulnerability and increase health resiliency. This cluster will strengthen and expand the university’s work in this area.
Faculty Lead: Elizabeth Dolan, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences
Robotics is a rapidly growing field in which Lehigh has the potential to make a major impact, especially in the development of high-performance intelligent vehicle systems. By its nature, robotics is highly interdisciplinary, and this cluster will involve faculty in the mechanical and
computer science and engineering departments.
Faculty Lead: John Spletzer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science
As economic progress marches on around the world, it is essential to preserve the global environment. This cluster will apply science, technology and sound environmental, political and policy thinking to develop a cooperative international practice in support of sustainable development. It will integrate the science and policy dimensions, with an explicit focus on sustainability.
Faculty Lead: Donald Morris, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, College of Arts and Sciences