The Schiller Institute will feature office and laboratory space for researchers, including engineering faculty, and teaching laboratories that will include computer science robotics and data visualization space. Maker spaces will give students hands-on experiences in prototyping research, a clean room, and a collaboration commons.
Announcing the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society
Boston College’s new institute for integrated science, which will create a multi-disciplinary, collaborative research process to address critical societal issues in the areas of energy, health and the environment, will be named in honor of BC Trustee Phil Schiller ’82 and his wife, Kim Gassett-Schiller, through a multi-year lead gift totaling $25 million.
The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society will be the centerpiece of a new 150,000 square-foot science facility scheduled for construction beginning in the spring of 2019 at a cost of roughly $150 million. The new building will represent the largest single investment in the sciences at Boston College. To date, more than $100 million has been raised for the facility and the institute.
Video: Watch Phil Schiller and Kim Gassett-Schiller talk about their vision for the Schiller Institute.
The new facility will include space for BC’s Computer Science Department and Shea Center, as well as classrooms for its core courses, all of which will foster faculty and student cooperation across departments and schools, strengthen teaching and research in the sciences, and enhance the University’s ability to advance the common good through research focused on pressing global problems.
By the Numbers
s.f. science center to house Schiller Institute
University investment in the sciences
Q & A
Boston College Vice Provost for Research and DeLuca Professor of Biology Thomas Chiles has played an central role in the work of faculty and administrators to take the idea of an institute dedicated to integrated science and make it a reality. He recently spoke about the role of the new institute at BC and shifting approaches to solving complex problems in science and society
The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society will strengthen teaching and research in the sciences, expand cross-school collaboration, and enhance Boston College’s ability to address critical global problems in targeted areas such as energy, health, and the environment. The University will explore new interdisciplinary courses in the integrated and applied sciences, data science, global public health, and other divisions that will combine elements of engineering and entrepreneurial approaches through collaboration with the Shea Center for Entrepreneurship and the professional schools. The institute’s distinctive programs will be marked by deep and ongoing engagement with the University’s long-standing strengths in the humanities, social sciences, and the professions. The foundation for this effort will be the University’s commitment to innovative liberal arts education grounded in the Jesuit, Catholic heritage of rigorous scholarship in service of the common good. This initiative will serve as a model for interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity as the University expands its commitment to teaching and research focused on pressing global problems.
Recent years have brought radical shifts in the manner in which scientists conduct research at universities around the world. Most strikingly, the traditional boundaries that once separated the natural sciences (e.g., chemistry, physics, biology) into independent disciplines have become less rigid, as have the divisions between basic and applied research. Solving important scientific problems at universities is no longer the exclusive domain of individual faculty members and students, confined by the traditions and jargon of their respective disciplines. Today, interdisciplinary teams are collaborating to solve complex problems in ways and at a pace that were unimaginable a decade ago.
A critical element of the institute will be the creation of a first-of-its-kind physical space on campus. The new space will anchor faculty and student research and foster transdisciplinary collaboration among faculty and students from across schools and departments. Housed within the new space will be state-of-the-art laboratories supporting integrated natural and applied science research; the Shea Center for Entrepreneurship; dynamic student maker spaces; classrooms serving students in the Core Curriculum and from across the University’s academic programs; teaching and research space for computer science; and the new engineering programming. A variety of course offerings bringing together students from a range of different majors will provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to put their innovative ideas into practice for the good of society.
The signature program within the institute will be a new undergraduate major in Integrated and Applied Science. This major will prepare students who are fluent in multiple natural science disciplines and applied science approaches, while shaping the next generation of scientists in the art of collaboration across science disciplines. The curriculum will allow students to explore inter-relationships between the natural sciences in ways that extend beyond traditional disciplinary course pedagogy. Laboratory experiences will challenge teams of students to tackle problem-oriented exercises. Students will acquire skills through new courses in implementation science and human-centered design thinking that will allow them to prototype solutions and field test their ideas.
The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society and its associated academic programs will enable Boston College to attract talented and innovative undergraduate and graduate students, allow the University to recruit and retain outstanding faculty members, and connect the sciences with other programs from across the University. Establishing an Institute dedicated to solving critical problems of the 21st century will secure and advance Boston College’s hard won and deserved standing among the top tier of American research universities.
“The institute’s focus on combining technology and the humanities and its commitment to collaboration and innovation as a defining principle is very exciting. This is where the best work comes from, as diverse minds with different experiences try to understand a problem together and solve things as a team. That is where big leaps forward happen.”