Lehigh University is a premier research university, and from the beginning, it has been a champion of interdisciplinary research. Its 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.
They also help the university attract and retain a more diverse faculty and staff, enhance the intellectual climate on campus, pursue opportunities arising from emerging world events, compete more effectively for funding in interdisciplinary areas and raise its visibility in key strategic areas.
In 2010, the university began the process of developing these clusters. Faculty from across the university's four colleges submitted a total of 19 proposals. Of these, the Faculty Cluster Hiring Committee chose to begin with two - Integrated Networks for Electricity and Africana Studies.
Each of these clusters is assigned to a dean who will guide the search and hiring process for faculty positions. They were introduced to the campus community through a series of open symposiums that helped outline the goals in each area of focus.
The committee has also provided seed funding to develop clusters in four additional areas: Integrated Healthcare Delivery, Sustainable Development, Cognitive Neuroscience and Global Islamic Studies. More clusters will be added as the process continues.