Of particular use were the discussions on collaborative leadership styles, since research at Stony Brook tends to be siloed by discipline, as well as discussions about leaning on the campus humanities institute as a collaborator. As an administrator who comes from the humanities, I sometimes feel a little bit alone, since most of my administrative colleagues do not come from the humanities.
The Importance of Being a Humanist in the Room
Stony Brook University, or the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has a history of fielding interdisciplinary Tiger Teams in response to anticipated increases in federal funding. The purpose of a Tiger Team is not to apply for grants but to make recommendations on how the university can better position itself to apply once funding becomes available in certain areas. Although the teams are always interdisciplinary, they have rarely if ever included faculty members from the humanities, arts, or social sciences.
That changed this year in the run-up to composing a new set of Tiger Teams, all of which will be focused on climate and sustainability. Celia Marshik, Professor of English, Dean of the Graduate School, Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education, and participant in the ACLS Leadership Institute for a New Academy (LINA), pointed out to the Provost and the Vice Provost for Research that many topics associated with climate change necessitate the inclusion of a humanistic or social scientific perspective. Marshik’s colleagues agreed and asked her and the director of the humanities center to come up with a list of topics that humanists could speak to under such categories as community resilience, climate and environmental health, the social drivers of climate migration, and the societal impacts of climate change.
The result of these conversations is that for the first time, many of the Tiger Teams will have faculty representation from the humanities and social sciences. As the lead university for the New York Climate Exchange, Stony Brook is already a leader in showing how an entire university can come together around a critical and urgent area like climate. Marshik hopes that participating in Tiger Teams will emphasize the importance of the arts and humanities and their role in exploring climate change solutions. Further conversations with Stony Brook’s administration has opened up more possibilities for humanistic participation in climate conversations, whether this is music students who compose in response to climate change or a panel of humanities faculty discussing climate-related work.
Ultimately, the humanities, arts, and social sciences are being integrated into Stony Brook’s Tiger Teams because there was a humanist in the room where decisions were being made –– and this humanist asked why no humanists or social scientists were included. Marshik notes that in pushing to integrate more humanities, arts, and social sciences into the Tiger Teams, she used what she learned from participating at the LINA Summer Institute in July 2023.
“Of particular use were the discussions on collaborative leadership styles, since research at Stony Brook tends to be siloed by discipline, as well as discussions about leaning on the campus humanities institute as a collaborator,” Marshik says. “As an administrator who comes from the humanities, I sometimes feel a little bit alone, since most of my administrative colleagues do not come from the humanities.” LINA prompted her both to lean on pre-existing allies, such as those at the humanities institute, and to cultivate new ones, with significant results.