A lot has changed since I arrived at UC San Diego in 1977. The campus felt isolated then. Taxi drivers didn’t always know where to take you if you asked for "UCSD." We were not well-connected with our alumni or our surrounding communities. But as I said, a lot has changed.
We are still physically sited where we were then, atop the Torrey Pines Mesa on the edge of the Pacific. But our connections in the region and across the world are both broad and deep.
The campus as a whole has been, for the third year in a row, ranked no. 1 in the nation for positive public impact. The Division of Social Sciences at UC San Diego takes great pride in this ranking. If you look at our Student Community Involvement page, you will find almost 500 community-based programs that connect students and faculty in the Division of Social Sciences with schools, industry, local and state government, and non-profit organizations.
The scholarship of our division’s students and faculty has far-reaching impact at the local, state, national and international levels. Projects in our academic and research units range from discovering the remarkable plasticity of the baby brain to improving educational outcomes among underserved communities, from dealing with toxic waste along the San Diego border with Mexico to documenting and harnessing the power of social networks, for health, well-being and civic engagement.
We now have numerous activities for alumni and friends in the community that provide vital bridges between “town and gown.”
By more traditional measures of success, we have also been spectacularly successful, and I invite you to peruse some of our accomplishments in our Division at a Glance page.
My goal as dean is to encourage and support scholarship that is problem-centered, engages directly with issues of social importance, and increases the diversity of our talent pool and of the communities we serve.
These days, the Social Sciences and the university more broadly are relying more and more on private monies for support. By doing what we do in this division – the science of society: research, teaching and service in the public interest – we hope you can rely on us, too.
I believe that what defines a great university as "public" is not the funding source but the mission: Contributing to the public good.
Jeffrey L. Elman
Dean of Social Sciences
Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science