Research Clusters

The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute sponsors research clusters convened by various faculty across campus. These clusters are open to participants (faculty and students) from any and all disciplines and departments. Those interested in participating should contact a convener of the cluster. Clusters will meet a few times each semester to discuss common interests and collaborate in shared activities.


Biopsychosocial Research Cluster
Conveners: Thomas Ritz ( and Pia Vogel (

Efforts to understand health and disease processes increasingly use a biopsychosocial model, incorporating biochemical and cellular processes, physiological function, psychological behavior, and individual experiences, all in relation to society and the physical environment. Our research cluster will discuss the opportunities and limits of this interdisciplinary approach by exploring research collaborations between relevant disciplines in Dedman College and SMU, including but not limited to the biological sciences, psychology, chemistry, and anthropology.

Linking Mathematical and Life Sciences
Conveners: Andrea Barreiro ( and Brandy Stigler (

In this cluster, we will explore interdisciplinary connections between the mathematical, physical, and life sciences by conducting informal seminars and discussions led by cluster participants.

Thinking with Affect: New Approaches to the Body, Emotions, and Politics
Conveners: Beatriz Balanta ( and Shilyh Warren (

This cluster aims to bring together a group of interdisciplinary scholars to tackle questions such as: How does the "affective turn" influence our contemporary thinking about the social, the political, the cultural, and the scientific? More specifically, can such an analytical framework account for war? For revolution? For identity categories such as race, gender, and sexuality? For feelings that have consequences in the material world, such as hate, depression, optimism, or joy?

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Inebriation, Addiction and Recovery Literature
Convener: Bruce Levy (

This research cluster brings together scholars and professionals working both directly and indirectly within the areas of inebriation, addiction, and recovery. In spite of the strong contemporary interest in these issues, approaches have generally failed to foster conversations across the disciplines and the professions, with the major focus isolated within the realm of clinical psychology. This research cluster will address this limitation by examining inebriation, addiction, and recovery issues from historical, literary, anthropological, legal, and medical perspectives, with participants from a cross-section of disciplines, professions, and practices.

Global Health Services Cluster
Convener: Eric Bing (

The major challenges in global health today are no longer medical challenges, but rather challenges in distribution, delivery and demand--getting quality care to people in ways that they will use it and at a price that they can afford. These challenges require innovative solutions from students and scholars skilled and motivated to work across areas including technology and informatics, human behavior and motivation, social and cultural networks, entrepreneurship, economics and policy, media and the arts. The Global Health Services Research Cluster will facilitate cross-campus, cross-disciplinary discussion and engagement that may lead to global health services research and training proposals, funding, and opportunities.

Removing our Blind Spots at the Intersections of Thought in a Global Society
Conveners: Nayelly Dominguez ( and Chase Harker (

This research cluster creates an academic initiative enabling us to tackle the most pressing issues of our future interdisciplinarily. We want to research and explore the intersections between global economics, politics, philosophy, innovation, creativity, and business to understand the patterns of the past, make connections to the present, and to recognize the challenges of the future. To analyze the intersections of ideas in fields such as government, education, energy, and healthcare, we will look at case studies from organizations participating in world markets to learn from their strategies, successes, and failures.

The following 2012-2013 Research Clusters have been continued through 2013-2014.

Reframing Africa

Convener: Dayna Oscherwitz, Department of World Languages
This research cluster will examine how Africa, Africans, and African issues are currently represented or not represented within US higher education and more broadly in the US media, and seek ways that higher education, generally, and Dedman College, specifically, can work to create broader and more accurate awareness of Africa, Africans, and African issues.  There will be two central questions explored by this cluster.  First, how we might better coordinate, integrate, and disseminate the existing (and growing) body of research and teaching about Africa at  SMU to create more in-depth knowledge among members of the university community, and second, how we might harness the growing African immigrant population in Dallas to promote that knowledge beyond the university walls.  This cluster is planned as three to four roundtable discussions during the current academic year.

The 'World' in University Education

Convener: Steven Lindquist, Department of Religious Studies

 The purpose of this research cluster is to explore the concepts of "world," “international,” and "global" within higher education and how they might be conceived to best suit the needs of students and faculty of Dedman College, as well as the broader university. A central question is how might the myriad knowledges produced in different geographical areas and at different times (from peoples and institutions to languages and literatures to religions and cultures) fit into our larger educational strategy? How can we more broadly conceive of a world-oriented education to suit our needs and strengths and what are potential gaps that should be addressed? This cluster is planned as four roundtable discussions during the current academic year.