Interdisciplinary Social Science Opportunity

The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life has created a great opportunity for interdisciplinary study next year. Dean Joyce Jacobsen, in collaboration with Professors John Finn (Govt) and Richard Adelstein (Econ), has organized a cluster of courses on Centralization and Decentralization.

Here are some excerpts from the Allbritton website:

Two of the courses in the Cluster are sections of regular Wesleyan courses taught in the Fall semester, Professor Finn’s GOVT 203 and Professor Adelstein’s ECON 254, in each of which ten places will be reserved for Cluster students (section 2 of each course). Cluster students must take at least one of these courses, though they may take both if they are admitted to the other course through regular procedures. The third course, CSPL 320-321, is required of all Cluster students and will be a year-long, team-taught (Adelstein & Finn) research seminar on the themes of the Cluster, with one-half credit awarded each semester. Here, students will explore various approaches to the Cluster theme, hear relevant lectures from invited guests from within and without the academy, and split into small, coordinated groups to embark on sustained collaborative research projects that each focus on some aspect of the problem of centralizing or decentralizing economic and political life. The seminar will culminate in a public presentation of the work and a volume of collaborative essays on specific themes and topics that might be published by a scholarly press.

The organizers hope that students will use the perspectives gained in these two courses not only to look more deeply into how American economic and political life have been organized in the past, but to address urgent questions for the present from around the world. How should the US be governed in the next century? What is the future of the EU? What can be learned from the disappearance of the USSR or the unification of Germany? Should Scotland secede from the UK? How can artificially created, deeply divided countries everywhere be governed or restructured? Nor need all the questions be political. How do big firms differ from small ones, and why do some firms grow large while others stay small? What are the political or moral consequences of economic concentration? How can multinational firms be governed and regulated? What might an antitrust law do to concentrate or disperse power?

Professors Adelstein and Finn are hoping to attract students from all majors who are strongly interested in the Cluster’s theme and prepared to work steadily over the year to learn more about the complex and difficult questions the theme raises and present their learning in a substantial collaborative research project. Applications are welcome from students in all majors for a new program to begin in Fall 2014. They are due April 7. If you have any questions regarding this Collaborative Cluster Program, please contact either John Finn ( or Richard Adelstein (

This is a great new opportunity for interdisciplinary work on a vital topic. More information at the website.