Interdisciplinary Research Clusters

In November 2011 a new initiative and opportunity for interdisciplinary faculty research at the University of New Haven entitled “Interdisciplinary Research Clusters” was launched.  Research clusters are umbrella organizations within the University of New Haven that enable faculty to engage with each other in stimulating research-oriented environments. Research Clusters are faculty led, independent of departmental and college level administration, and responsible for their own research agendas. Their membership is open to all faculty and other researchers, and individual faculty may be members of more than one cluster. Research Clusters have no line management role but report  to the Academic Leadership Council via the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, Research and Faculty Development.   The clusters may receive some institutional financial support.

  • For more information about any of the IRCs please contact the facilitators or Christopher Standish.


    Paulette Pepin, Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
    Rosa Mo, Health Professions and Science, College of Arts and Sciences

    Next year (2014) will be the centenary of the start of World War I. Contemporaries saw this particular war as the “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars,” but in retrospect World War I is seen more importantly as the shockwave that ushered in the twentieth century and the modern world. This unprecedented struggle saw the collapse of the great European empires, the advent of mechanized warfare and the senseless deaths of millions. Initial support for this conflict generated enthusiastic patriotism and nationalism, which was fostered by artistic and sophisticated propaganda. Yet the unforeseen duration of the war coupled with the continued slaughter of millions promoted pacifist reactions. In addition this war, what the Wilsonians heralded as America’s cause for entrance into the war in 1917, was “To make the world safe for Democracy,” certainly provides a multitude of avenues for scholarly research. Thus this Research Cluster will be provided with the opportunity to explore all facts of the World War I era from various political, social, economic and cultural aspects.

     Each participant will be able to choose a specific topic of exploration related to the “Centenary of World War I,” and produce a project of scholarly significance related to their individual discipline and their overall professional goals.

    First meeting of this IRC will be Monday, October 7, 1:30-3:00 in Maxcy 309


    Rachel Anderson-Rabern, Theatre, College of Arts and Sciences
    Todd Jokl, Art and Design, College of Arts and Sciences
    Stuart Sidle, Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences

    We propose an ongoing, interdisciplinary exploration based on the following assumptions:

    • Creativity is the driving force behind the advancing of intellectual thought. 
    • Creativity is, and has been, an essential component to the general condition of human nature. It is vital to industry, and all academic and intellectual pursuits.  Although it may be viewed in different ways and even described by any number of adjectives or nouns, the humanities, the arts, the physical and social sciences, and even business depend on creativity for advancements and progress.   This makes it an important skill for all our students and faculty, alike.
    • However, while creativity has been considered a core element of practice within the arts, and while it is strongly emphasized and encouraged in Engineering, it is often an understated and poorly understood component of other disciplines.

    With this in mind, an IRC on creativity will focus on questions surrounding the basic nature and application of creativity at the University.  For example, the IRC will address the questions:

    • What is creativity? 
    • How can we understand the practice of creativity, historically?
    • Does creativity really matter?
    • How do we access creativity?
    • How do we apply it to research and practice?
    • Is creativity a process, a product, or something else?
    • How can we encourage creativity through our curricula?

    Because creativity is an essential component to every academic discipline, this IRC aims to open a robust dialogue on topics of creativity amongst faculty across the University.

    Meeting schedule for the Creativity IRC:
    Tuesday, October 1 at 12:05 in Maxcy 309.
    Tuesday, October 22; 12:05; Bartels DeDominicus Conference Room
    Tuesday, November 5; 12:05; Maxcy 309
    Tuesday, November 19; 12:05; Maxcy 309
    Tuesday, December 3; 12:05; Maxcy 309


    Khadija Al Arkoubi, Management, Pompea College of Business

    This cluster aims at creating a learning space for faculty, students and staff to interact around cultural and interfaith dialog issues.  In line with University of New Haven vision to develop its members’ global mindset and nurture their cultural intelligence, it seeks to promote constructive and dialogic discussions and programs between the Middle East and the US. The goal is to appreciate the existing diverse identities, overcome stereotypes and prejudices and foster tolerance and acceptance.

    Proposed Activities of the Group

    • Conduct research projects pertaining to the theme of the cluster
    • Write grants for research projects and cultural exchange programs
    • Organize workshops and deliver presentations to explain the culture of the Middle East and introduce Islam
    • Organize events where students can learn about the different faiths and religions and challenge their own assumption


    Eun-A (Mickey) Park, Communication, Film and Media Studies, College of Arts and Sciences
    Rosa Mo, Division of Health Professions and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences

    This is a continuation of the AY12-13 IRC, but new members are welcome and encouraged.

    Currently, we are in the process of collecting individual experiences and suggestions for concrete agendas.  As an example, a specific plan for AY13-14 is to hold a workshop for which a couple of guest speakers will be invited. The invited Asian woman scholars and IRC members will join in discussing the intercultural experience in higher education, and have a chance to share ideas with the whole University of New Haven community.  As the first invitee, Dr. Xiaohong He, founding chair of the International Business Department at the School of Business at Quinnipiac University pleasantly agreed to participate in the workshop (see attached).   At the workshop, each participant will have an opportunity to reflect on their personal experiences, identify challenges from the Asian women scholars’ perspectives and elucidate them through theoretical and practical frameworks for improving the environmental climate on the University of New Haven community. Also, by providing anecdotes about academic difficulties that Asian women scholars may have faced, this research will enhance publicity on this issue and provide guidelines for Asian women scholars about how to handle relevant situations.


    Joseph Kolibal, Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences
    Michael Rossi, Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

    This is a continuation of this effort from 2012 but new members are welcome. 

    The computational cluster is an essential part of developing a broader interdisciplinary program in computational science at the University of New Haven. Its activities are intended to allow faculty already engaged in high performance computing to utilize an open source parallel computing environment, and it is designed to allow those who have no experience in this arena to learn about high performance computing, and to become familiar with developing and testing software in this environment.

    This IRC provides a multifaceted introduction to parallel/open source computing built on a open source platform. The cluster participants will install, operate, and maintain an Ubuntu 12.04 based computer to be built on an Intel Xeon 55xx platform (providing 8 cores, and supporting up to 16 threads) with 48Gb 3-channel DDR3 ECC memory to maximize memory bandwidth.  The approach is designed to provide hands-on experiential learning for the faculty, so that in turn, they can provide computational leadership to their colleagues at the University of New Haven.

  • Interdisciplinary research clusters at the University of New Haven enable faculty to engage with each other in stimulating research- oriented environments. They are faculty led; membership is open to all faculty and researchers. Individual faculty may be members of more than one cluster.  Research clusters may conduct a range of activities such as: discussing literature, best practices, and current issues; exploring areas of overlap between the academic interests of individual faculty; hosting talks and presentations by members and guests; promoting faculty involvement with external professional organizations, funding agencies, and publishers; and promoting collaboration on grant applications, research, and publications. Some institutional financial support is available for activities that enhance the goals of the cluster.

    The IRCs for this academic year are listed below. Contact the facilitators for more information, to join, to be added to the distribution lists, and/or to make your interests known. 

    • Sustainable Communities (continuing from AY11-12; new members welcome)
    • STEM Education (continuing from AY11-12; new members welcome)
    • Interdisciplinary Nanotechnology
    • Perspectives of Foreign-born Asian Women Scholars on American Higher Education
    • Parallel/High Performance Computing on an Open Source Platform
    • Analytics & Visualization
    • Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa: The Challenges and the Prospects
    • WAC or WID: Investigating the best means of vertical integration of writing at the University of New Haven
    • Application information for AY12-13 IRCs
  • The first three clusters described below are focused on the areas of STEM Education, Education Research and Sustainable Communities; other clusters are anticipated as the University of New Haven gains experience with this construct and as faculty of like interests come forward to utilize the opportunities available. The scope of their activities and the areas of research interest are deliberately flexible. It is expected that they will evolve rapidly to reflect the scholarly interests of the individuals who join the clusters. Anyone interested in joining a research cluster should contact the faculty convener(s) noted below. Information on adding clusters will be forthcoming later.

    Research clusters will conduct a range of activities such as: discussing literature, best practices, and current issues; exploring areas of overlap between the academic interests of individual faculty; hosting talks and presentations by members and guests; promoting faculty involvement with external professional organizations, funding agencies, and publishers; and promoting collaboration on grant applications, research, and publications. The research clusters will meet at least once a month during the academic year.

    The participating faculty members will be responsible for directing the activities of the cluster to address their academic interests. The following cluster topics have been identified as areas of existing research activity, and faculty working in the main topic areas have identified the preliminary scopes of interest described below.

    RESEARCH CLUSTER - STEM Education. Scope of Interests:

    Broad perspective of STEM Education from pre-K to continuing education, mid-career retooling, and employment issues. The cluster will promote collaboration across age and content specializations.

    Misperceptions and missing preparation. The cluster will study technical deficits as precursors for student failure and communication of these between age-based specialists.

    Goals for STEM Education: science literacy, expert knowledge, philosophical understanding, job preparedness, career flexibility, national security. The cluster will share their ideas on what motivates individuals in STEM Education.

    Contemporary Issues: globalization of the STEM workforce, gender, retention, on-line STEM education, employment trends, changing curriculum standards. The cluster will share ideas to maintain currency with issues in STEM Education.

    Broad Issues: philosophies of Science, Engineering, and Math, brain science, learning, language and communication. The cluster will share ideas that provide intellectual context for the content areas to deepen our knowledge of our disciplines.

    Teaching Techniques: Socratic variants, constructivist and described knowledge, hands-on, mentoring, coaching, tutoring, theoretical, lecture, homework, labs, report writing. The cluster will share knowledge and research findings on teaching techniques.

    Practical applications: promoting best practices in STEM teaching at the University of New Haven, the University of New Haven Magnet School, and education of PK-12 teachers. The cluster will apply its knowledge of best practices to promote good teaching amongst ourselves, our colleagues and in the local K-12 schools.

    National STEM reform efforts and funding initiatives. The cluster will review changes in PK-16 STEM curricula and state, national, and international standards. Members will be encouraged to be active in external STEM curricula and standards organizations.

    RESEARCH CLUSTER - Education Research. Scope of Interests:

    Accountability and Assessment. The cluster will maintain currency with best practices for assessment in Education.

    Literacy – early, visual, critical, media, boys’. The cluster will maintain currency with the best knowledge of all types of literacy.

    New teacher retention and development. The cluster will assess contemporary issues in teacher retention and development and will explore ways that the University of New Haven can be pro-active in supporting new and in-service teachers.

    Relationships between societal gender equity and schooling (K-12 as well as higher ed). The cluster will maintain currency and sustain a research program in gender equality.

    STEM schools and curricula. The cluster will collaborate with the STEM Education cluster to promote knowledge of curricula developments in STEM subjects and promote involvement in external STEM curricula and standards organizations.

    Nature of Science. The cluster will study the roles that the nature of science plays in our US Education system, such as in the concept of “science literacy,” and as it is perceived by engineers and by scientists.

    The initial meeting will combine the STEM Education and Education Research clusters. For more information contact the Research Cluster conveners: Matthew Griffiths, Physics; Nancy Niemi, Education; or Jean Nocito-Gobel, Engineering

    On Friday, December 9th, the inaugural joint meeting of the Interdisciplinary Research Clusters (IRCs) on STEM Research and Education Research will be held in the Tagliatela College of Engineering Dean’s Conference Room (B329C) from 8:30-10:00 AM. The preliminary agenda includes questions of structure (joint or separate IRCs for STEM and Education Research), discussion of possible scopes of activities and academic topics, and planning the schedule for Spring 2012. All faculty with an interest in these topics are invited to attend. Please bring your ideas to help make the IRCs valuable and interesting.


    RESEARCH CLUSTER - Sustainable Communities. Scope of Interests:

    The Sustainability cluster will bring together faculty from diverse disciplines across campus to collaborate on research, scholarly activities, innovative projects, curriculum development, outreach activities, or other activities related to the theories, philosophies, principles and practices of Sustainability (broadly defined). The specific activities of the cluster will be determined by its members, but will include forming goals for each year, hosting events, and identifying opportunities to work together. Topics of interest will also be determined by cluster participants, but some possible areas may include environmental law, environmental science, global sustainability and education, corporate social responsibility, sustainability metrics and indicators, environmental economics, energy technologies, energy efficiency, alternative energy, design, green chemistry and materials, green architecture and planning, sustainable food and supply chains, philosophy, literature, history, artistic, cultural considerations, and the social aspects of sustainability.

    For more information contact the Research Cluster conveners: Jeff Debies-Carl, Sociology; or Amy Thompson, Engineering.