History-Social and Decision Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

History of Social and Decision Sciences

Social science at Carnegie Mellon began as an offering within the Margaret Morrison College for Women, and moved to the School of Urban and Public Affairs (SUPA, now the Heinz College) when the women's
college was discontinued. In 1976, Social and Decision Sciences took its initial roots in the new College of Humanities and Social Sciences under Dean Patrick Crecine, who was trained as a political scientist, with the support of SUPA Dean Otto Davis and the tacit support of the university's central administration. The original group of four faculty, drawn from political science and sociology, doubled in size the following year. At this time, the department was almost entirely funded from existing operating funds, and for many years the faculty consisted of promising, younger social scientists with broad interests. Dean Crecine initially assumed leadership of the new department, but Patrick Larkey, a student of Crecine's at the University of Michigan, was named department head in 1980.

The 1977-79 course catalog summarizes the initial situation:

The Division of Social Sciences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences consists of the Department of Social Sciences, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Social Relations. As of this
writing, the Department of Social Sciences is being assembled. Currently, the College's social science course in economics, history, political science, sociology, and urban analysis are staffed both by the
graduate faculty from Carnegie Mellon's prestigious professional schools and by the College's own faculty. While the Department of Social Science will ultimately have responsibility for the coordination of all the
College's social science programs, significant portions will continue to be staffed by the outstanding faculty from the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now the Tepper School of Business) and the
School of Urban and Public Affairs (now the Heinz College).

In the early 1980's under Larkey's leadership, the undergraduate information systems program was developed. By the end of that decade, student enrollment in this area had grown substantially. This increased enrollment was a mixed blessing with various ratifications playing out over the next two decades, and the Information Systems program was spun off as a separate unit in the College around 2000. In 1985, Professor Robyn Dawes joined the department as head with a mandate to build in the area of behavioral decision-making. The re-oriented department, newly named the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, generated quick visibility and formed the basis for SDS's current prominence in this area.

In 2011, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was renamed to the Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Dietrich College) in recognition of the generous gift of William S.
Dietrich II on 7 September, 2011.