Brandeis has named Edward J. Hackett—a professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University since 2005 and editor of the “Science, Technology & Human Values” journal—as the new vice provost for research. A career scholar of sociology and social change, Hackett earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Cornell. First announced for the position in June of 2015, Hackett has been working part time in the position since the beginning of August and will transfer to a full-time position on Jan. 1, 2016.
As the vice provost for research, Hackett works in close proximity with Brandeis’ academic deans and department heads, in order to enhance “significant” research done at the university. “The high-level responsibility is to promote inquiry,” Hackett said in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. “That, and promoting inquiry that is specific to Brandeis, which is inquiry that engages pressing issues and publics and involves learning at all levels.” Some specific duties are still decided as the school year begins, Hackett said. “But because mine is a relatively new position, I can feel it out more and figure out what I am going to do in the long run,” he added.
“Advancing the scope and visibility of our research enterprise is a vital part of Brandeis’ mission as a research university,” Brandeis Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Irving R. Epstein told Brandeis Now in June.
Hackett was drawn to Brandeis because of his academic background and interests. “[Brandeis] lives at the intersection of what I am most interested in: learning, education and engagement with social publics,” he said. “And Brandeis, unlike any other university I can think of, marries high-end research and education across all levels and infuses it with a real commitment to social justice … I think that is exactly what education ought to be.”
Before coming to Brandeis, Hackett made his name in social circles through his work in sociology. Hackett is particularly interested in “synthesis,” a field of sociological study that focuses on how communities live and work in synthesis with one another, similar to a natural ecosystem. This intersectional study allows behavior to be studied and categorized at a higher scale, according to Hackett.
Hackett is also interested in teaching at Brandeis, possibly at the Heller School. “There are two proposed courses I have been thinking about: one about technology and society and how the two have evolved in a parallel way,” Hackett said. “The other I’d like to teach, that’s sort of my signature course, is about equity and sustainability, which I have taught for the past six or seven years at ASU.” This course examines the intersection and reconciliation of human development and new global equity movements, he said. Hackett expressed excitement for the possibilities brought from working at Brandeis and is looking forward to meeting and interacting with the Brandeis community.