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About the Dean: Richard Scheines

Richard Scheines, Dean of the Dietrich College

With his experience in interdisciplinary research and education — the heart of a liberal arts education, Richard Scheines is leading Carnegie Mellon University's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences as it continues to use research and education to solve problems and impact society.

Scheines, professor of philosophy, built his career on crossing academic disciplines and brings that approach to the Office of the Dean.

“The reason you go into academics is that you're curious, and you like the stimulation and the activity of working with ideas," Scheines said. “At the dean's level, I hope to find opportunities to seed projects that involve faculty from humanities and social sciences as well as other parts of the university.”

Before becoming dean of the Dietrich College in July 2014, Scheines served as head of the Department of Philosophy since 2005. In that role, he led the department to distinction with a focus on research that directly connects to a wide array of other fields, including computer science, math, statistics, brain science, medical ethics and psychology. Under his leadership, the department more than tripled its external research funding, strengthened its global reputation and attracted and retained the highest quality faculty and students.

He also was instrumental in working to establish a new Center for Formal Epistemology, which collaborates with similar centers at Stanford University and in Europe and Japan. Additionally, he is credited with helping to create the Patrick Suppes Chair — now held by Wilfried Sieg — developing a new interdisciplinary major in linguistics, and working with the Department of History to upgrade the ethics, history and public policy major.

Scheines joined the CMU faculty in 1990 and has additional appointments in the Machine Learning Department and Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). His research focuses on causal discovery, the philosophy of social science, and educational technology and online courses. With CMU's Peter Spirtes and Clark Glymour, Scheines pioneered the development of the modern theory of statistical causal models, which have been successfully applied in fields from genetics to climate modeling, brain imaging to social psychology and educational research to economics. He led the design of the undergraduate major in human-computer interaction, and, with the late Steven Klepper, he redesigned a core methods course in social and decision sciences that received honorable mention in the American Statistical Association's Causality in Statistics Education Awards.

In technology-enhanced learning, Scheines directed the creation of two online courses and published the first empirical study to show that appropriately applying interactive, web-based instruction can lead to improved learning outcomes in college courses. He also has played a major role in the development of the university's new Simon Initiative, which aims to accelerate the use of learning science and technology to improve student learning, and to harness and leverage CMU's decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students everywhere.

Scheines has served on three committees for the National Academies of Science, all of which have completed their work and published books describing their findings: "Improving the Presumptive Disability Decision-Making Process For Veterans," "Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity" and "Review of EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Process."

"I can't imagine a more intellectually exciting place to work than Carnegie Mellon," Scheines said. "I've benefitted enormously from the value put on interdisciplinary work and from the astonishing variety of expertise available within a 5-7 minute walk from my office. I will do everything I can to create an environment that is exciting and enjoyable for all of our faculty and students.”

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  Scott Sandage Helps "Modern Family's" Jesse Tyler Ferguson Learn His Family History on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Premiering at 9 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, July 30, the episode will show Sandage helping Ferguson uncover the life of his great-grandfather whom trouble seemed to follow at every turn. Read more.
  Save the Date: Celebrating the Work of Steven Klepper
The Dietrich College and Department of Social and Decision Sciences will hold an academic conference and community memorial event on October 17, 2014 to celebrate the work of Steven Klepper. Read more (pdf).
  Dietrich College News: May 2014
Features this month include new psychology research, "Lucky After Dark," the 2014 Adamson Student Writing Awards, alumni news, commencement photos and much more. Read Dietrich College News.
  Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children
Published in Psychological Science, CMU's Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman looked at whether classroom displays affected children's ability to maintain focus during instruction and to learn the lesson content. They found that children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed. Read more.   Watch a video.
  Four Students Begin Dietrich Honors Fellowship Program
The program provides summer funding to rising seniors in the Dietrich College's senior honors program as they undertake early-stage research and development of their thesis topics. In this video, the four students participating in program's inaugural year discuss their projects which range from relationship research to anthropology and ethnography studies. Watch the videoFind out more about the program.
  $7.5 Million Department of Defense Grant Awarded To Reshape Mathematics
Philosophy Professor Steve Awodey has received a $7.5 million, five-year grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) to reshape the foundations of mathematics by developing a new approach that allows for large-scale formalization and computer verification. Read more.
  Mapping the Future of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University — which has a long history of the humanities and social sciences collaborating with other fields to solve problems — and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences held the first Pittsburgh-area discussion of the "Heart of the Matter" report and its implications for improving education and creating a sustainable global society. Read more.   Watch the video.  View photos.
  Richard Scheines Appointed Dean of Dietrich College
Scheines, professor and head of the Department of Philosophy, has been selected to lead the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences as dean, effective July 1, 2014. He will succeed John Lehoczky, who has served as dean since 2000 and will return to the Department of Statistics’ faculty. Read more.
  Students, Alumni Attend Under Construction
Nearly 60 alumni returned to support 150 current students and help them build their careers. The second annual “Under Construction: Building Your Future” event encouraged students and alumni to explore the diverse fields available after graduation. Read more.
  Video: The Humanities at Carnegie Mellon University
The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences is proud to have distinguished faculty and talented students who are leading the humanities into the 21st century. In this short video, Dietrich College faculty, staff and alumni talk about the college’s excellence in the humanities. Watch the video.

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