Priorities for the Future is a strategic plan designed to set the course for the next five years for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Crafted with the understanding that a robust liberal arts education within a research university must always reach for the next level of excellence, the plan sets out four priorities: 

  1. Revitalize the undergraduate experience.
  2. Grow the size of our faculty.
  3. Enhance the graduate student experience.
  4. Promote public facing scholarship and community engagement. 

Over the past two years, members of the Krieger School community offered input on the plan, helping to give shape to the priorities that will guide us into the future as one of standard bearers in arts and sciences education.

Revitalize the undergraduate experience

We are re-envisioning our model for undergraduate education to better reflect the mission of JHU—to educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.

Our strategies for our undergraduate experience

Cultivate a common experience through the First-Year Foundation.

First-year students need support in the transition from high school to university. By offering first-year seminars and a foundational writing course in the first year, the Krieger School will support small-cohort learning communities in which students establish foundational critical thinking and writing skills as well as mentoring relationships with our faculty from their first year on campus.  In turn, these skills and relationships help students as they become part of the intellectual community at Johns Hopkins. In addition, we are changing the structure of academic advising to facilitate the role of faculty as mentors while also ensuring consistency and increasing student satisfaction and engagement in the advising process.

Encourage cross-disciplinary exploration and experimentation. 

We seek to broaden our students’ education by launching a new General Education model and related distribution requirements based on six core foundational abilities: (1) Writing and Communication; (2) Science and Data; (3) Culture and Aesthetics; (4) Citizens and Society; (5) Ethics and Foundations; and (6) Projects and Methods. This new model preserves the depth and rigor of the major as central to the undergraduate intellectual experience in the Krieger School. At the same time, it aims to inculcate in our students the cross-disciplinary breadth and habits of mind essential to engage as rigorous, self-reflective, knowledgeable, creative citizens in a democratic society. 

Enrich learning through research and creative activity.

A signature component of a Hopkins undergraduate education is the ability to engage in primary research. The Krieger School is committed to increasing opportunities for mentored research as well as student-initiated learning both inside and outside the traditional classroom. Undergraduate research may occur on campus in project labs in the natural sciences, research labs in the humanities and social sciences, experiential labs in the field, and in funded research opportunities through the office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity.  Such opportunities will increase with the development of the Hopkins Semester, which will provide opportunities for co-curricular, immersive learning in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and beyond.

Dean Chris Celenza reading through a large format book with 7-8 students

Grow the size of our faculty

The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences must grow if it wishes to fulfill the goals related to undergraduate education. Growth is also essential if we wish to compete on a level playing field with our peers in terms of reputation, ranking, and accomplishment.

Our strategies for growing faculty

Realize investments in units identified as institutional priorities.

In recent years, the Krieger School has leveraged institutional strengths in key research areas to garner several significant gifts capable of transforming the school’s contributions to research and discovery. The Krieger School must continue to support investments in the Bloomberg Distinguished Professors Program, the SNF Agora Institute, the William H. Miller III Department of Philosophy, the William H. Miller III Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the Department of English.

Sustain excellence in highly ranked departments and those poised to excel.

The Krieger School houses several elite departments whose exceptional faculty devote their time to research, teaching, and service. Growth of the faculty can produce exponential benefits, generating more opportunities for faculty collaboration and transforming the student experience through increased opportunities for research and mentorship. Strategic growth will increase the school’s reputation even further, contributing to the collective excellence of a premiere school of arts and sciences. 

Increase the profile of the humanities.

Currently, the Krieger School is home for eight endowed professorships held by faculty members whose work and influence spans multiple fields within the humanities. We aim to increase the number of endowed professorships in the humanities to 14. Doing so will serve as a recruitment tool to establish a core group of tenured faculty in the humanities. Our vision is that these faculty members will be eager to further the interdisciplinary nature of their work, even as they engage deeply with undergraduate education and the public humanities. 

Invest in emerging fields of study across the arts and sciences.

The Krieger School has identified several key fields of study that involve multiple departments and programs. Cluster hires and joint appointments in areas such as neuroscience, artificial intelligence, data intensive social sciences, sustainability and climate change, trans-Asian studies, and Africana studies are expanding the reach of these interdisciplinary fields.

Economics professor Hellen Seshie-Nasser teaching a class.

Enhance the graduate student experience

Graduate education is vital for the health and productivity of any academic program, helping to stimulate discussion and discovery while training the next generation of scholars, intellectuals, and scientists.

Our strategies to enhance graduate experiences

Define the future of the doctoral degree.

The changing nature of the PhD demands new ways to illustrate the broad social value of the degree. It requires more robust information about the variety of careers pursued by our PhD alumni and refined training to prepare students for an array of careers that may yet to be imagined. We stand ready to articulate the full potential of doctoral education by re-investigating in non-curricular activities, the nature of the dissertation, and how these relate to career outcomes. Following work already begun in the natural sciences and encouraged by national funding agencies, all Krieger School programs will engage with PHutures and professionalize activities provided there. Additionally, the Krieger School has introduced a transformative initiative—the Society of Fellows in the Humanities—which selectively gathers top graduates of our PhD programs to experiment with a range of careers even as it honors the versatility of their training and expertise.

Improve support for graduate students. 

It is essential that our graduate students receive the resources and training needed to excel, not only during their time with us, but also into their future careers. On-going negotiations with the recently formed graduate student union will address some of these concerns, but our commitments extend beyond labor issues. We must restructure support packages to remain competitive with our peer institutions. We will expand and update the mentoring of our candidates, improving the crucial advisor-advisee relationship. We will also orient our graduate students as diverse, equitable, and inclusive educators and provide valuable teaching professional development opportunities through programs like the Teaching Academy

Foster cohorts for graduate students.

Building community requires innovative thinking about both space and collaboration. As we shift space allocation on campus, we will designate more shared space for graduate students, especially for those in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, we will use dissertation fellowships, research awards, and other incentives to strengthen the programs that already invite graduate students into shared projects and prioritize student-initiated collaborations.

Diversify graduate student base. 

The Krieger School aims to recruit more graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including students from underrepresented and limited-income groups.  We will develop a clear understanding of our recruitment needs and implement a comprehensive recruitment strategy intended to create a pluralistic academic community. We will strengthen the roles of faculty diversity champions and student diversity ambassadors to support and enhance the success of our students. We will also help to build pathways to the doctorate for diverse students through efforts such as the SNF Agora Institute Predoctoral Fellowship Program, the Krieger School Collaboratory PhD Pathway Program, and the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology MA Pathway to PhD in STEM-adjacent Humanities and Social Sciences.

group of three students in lab coats pointing at a device on a counter

Promote public-facing scholarship and community engagement

Extending the influence of our research beyond the university, translating it into terms meaningful for society, and working with partners outside Johns Hopkins to produce new knowledge, ensures the continued relevance of our scholarship, even as it helps to build trust with the citizens of the Baltimore. 

Strategies for public-facing work

Pursue public scholarship in the social sciences.

The school will continue to promote and support the work of the SNF Agora Institute to strengthen studies of democracy in a broader program of research and teaching and to promote engaged scholarship. These efforts include the newly created Center on Economy and Society, which will, among other things, promote ideological diversity through its new major in moral and political economy. These efforts will reside in the new SNF Agora building but will also find a regular presence in Johns Hopkins’ new Washington, D.C. facility located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave.

Encourage community engagement in the city of Baltimore.

The Krieger School will leverage existing relationships to expand its engagement with the city of Baltimore. The school will continue to support work such as the Ecological Design Collective, the Hard Histories Project, and Inheritance Baltimore while also using the path-breaking methodologies of the Baltimore Social-Environmental Collaborative and 21st Century Cities Initiative to research cities in general. We intend to strengthen collaborations with the Center for Social Concern which may also enhance our work in the K-12 system where programs such as Writers in Baltimore Schools and BioEYES have proven successful. Opportunities for partnerships also exist with the Baltimore Museum of Art and several other arts institutions, fostering new research and educational opportunities for our entire community.

Support public scholarship in the humanities and the arts.

The Krieger School will explore new opportunities to promote the humanities and the arts.  We will advance the potential of the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute as a portal for faculty to present their scholarship to wider audiences. The public-facing work of the institute—particularly in the Humanities in the Village (Baltimore) and Humanities on the Mall (Washington, D.C.) series—offers faculty in the humanities departments opportunities to give talks, seminars, or conferences that address a variety of communities beyond Johns Hopkins. In addition, we will pursue ways for our students to become engaged in creative scholarship in the arts, including the establishment of an Arts Council, whose purpose will be to think through collaborative ways to realize this goal.

Advance public scholarship in the natural sciences.

In addition to increasing partnership with Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, we will engage our community across the sciences, arts and humanities, and public policy. For example, the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has created an unprecedented opportunity to leverage our relationships with the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Applied Physics Lab, and the Whiting School of Engineering to engage the community in questions about the origin of the universe and life within it. The Krieger School has researchers working in critical areas such as climate change and artificial intelligence, devising new ways to share their findings with multiple audiences.

Educate Krieger School faculty and students in methods of public scholarship.

The Krieger School will continue to provide access to resources such as The OpEd Project (where faculty members receive guidance on writing opinion pieces) to increase the likelihood that our voices will be heard. We are also seeking to develop a cluster of courses aimed at teaching faculty members and graduate students creative ways to bring their scholarship to the public beyond the walls of the university.

three people in jhu gear laughing outside holding a mug