Nanovic Hall brings social sciences students and faculty together

Author: Carrie Gates

Nanovic HallThe newly completed Nanovic Hall is home to the Departments of Political Science, Economics, and Sociology, as well as the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

For Luis Fraga, acting chair of the Department of Political Science, Nanovic Hall is a dream come true.

The state-of-the-art new building is home to the Departments of Political Science, Economics, and Sociology, their affiliated centers and programs, and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Nanovic Hall includes laboratory and research spaces, classrooms, and offices, all designed to encourage interaction between faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students.

Luis Fraga
Luis Fraga

“Political Science has more than 50 faculty members, and a number of them are affiliated with programs and institutes across the University,” said Fraga, the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership and Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Political Science. “The new space allows us to have an intellectual home that brings us together on a regular basis. Our faculty, administrative, and graduate student offices are now located on the same floor, and we have beautiful seminar spaces as well.

“We can now interact with each other more regularly, and in this way, build an even richer set of connections among our faculty to facilitate intellectual collaboration at much deeper levels.”

Supported by a leadership gift from Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic, construction began on the 92,750-square-foot building in June 2015, and was fully occupied as of July 2017. It features a soaring, three-story forum used for events, the latest video conferencing technology in each of the departmental suites, and a formal mediation room modeled after the United Nations that has translation capabilities for up to three languages.

Many social sciences faculty are affiliated with the Nanovic Institute, as well as the Keough School of Global Affairs and the many international institutes now housed in adjoining Jenkins Hall, and their close proximity offers the possibility of additional collaboration, Mustillo said.

The facility is designed to accommodate the tremendous recent growth in the social sciences. The three departments housed there have hired more than 20 faculty in the last three years, and political science and economics are now two of the largest undergraduate majors on campus.

“Perhaps the biggest winners from this new space are our undergraduates, who will inevitably gain greater exposure to a multidisciplinary approach to addressing social issues,” said James Sullivan, the Rev. Thomas J. McDonagh, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Economics and co-founder of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO).

Sullivan has already seen the success of this approach in his work at LEO, which also moved to Nanovic Hall this summer. LEO evaluates the impact of anti-poverty initiatives and has grown from three employees to a staff of nine, in addition to almost 20 faculty affiliates and a team of undergraduate research assistants.

“Our undergraduates all use the tools from their respective disciplines to work together and design evaluations,” Sullivan said. “Among the most rewarding aspects of their work is what they learn from each other. This sort of collaborative learning truly enhances the undergraduate experience.”