• Robin Leichenko
  • Robin Leichenko
  • Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Message from the Dean

    In the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS), our mission is to examine social, psychological, cultural, political, and economic patterns, processes, and structures with the overall goals of discovering pathways for political cooperation, social mobility, greater equality, and enhancement of individual and collective well-being. By studying the behavior of individuals, groups, and institutions, we attempt to predict, prevent, manage, and solve the many problems that arise in society. Students enrolled in SBS courses and majors will acquire skill sets and capacities for critical thinking and analysis of a wide range of social and behavioral issues.

    Here is a thumbnail sketch of the approaches used in different fields within SBS: To understand the mechanisms of individual behavior, Psychologists research the brain basis of decision making, including topics like cognition, executive function, mental illness, and addiction. Behavior is also driven by social identity, group membership and associated pressures, including inequality, as explored by Sociologists. Behavioral patterns, cultural identities and their biological evolution are studied by Anthropologists. On a broader level, modern civilizations operate through complex social and economic aggregations and processes that create, govern, and distribute essential resources according to the goals of various interest groups, as analyzed by Economists. All of these systems are managed to various degrees through political institutions that reflect both democratic goals and the exercise of political power. Political scientists study these institutions and their social effects both within nations with different political systems and at the level of complex interactions between nations that can foster cooperation or conflict. Geographers describe how human societies interact with the environment as well as with other people and pay particular attention to the drivers and impacts of processes such as climate change and biodiversity loss, which endanger both societies and the health of our planet. Interdisciplinary departments like Africana Studies and Latino and Caribbean Studies apply multiple perspectives to address the experiences, issues and, too often, discrimination faced by particular groups in society. Serious conflicts that arise between individuals and groups are regulated by various institutions that enable civil society to exist, including an imperfect system of laws, rights and punishments addressed by our interdisciplinary Program in Criminal Justice.

    Some key points of commonality across the SBS programs include the use of evidence-based research to inform social understanding and policy, the emphasis on bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to investigation of socially-relevant issues, and the search for transformative pathways that can foster a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and thriving world.

    With best wishes,
    Robin Leichenko
    Division Dean
    Professor of Geography

  • Phone: 848-932-6446
  • Biography:

    Robin Leichenko is a Professor of Geography. She works at the intersection of economic geography and global climate change, exploring how processes of globalization and climate change differentially affect regions, communities, and economic sectors. She is especially interested in the implications of these processes for questions of vulnerability, equity, and sustainability. At Rutgers since 1997, she has served as Director of the Graduate Program in Geography and chair of the Geography Department. She is also founder and former co-director of the Rutgers Climate Institute (now part of the Rutgers Climate and Energy Institute). As the Divisional Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, she works with department chairs on hiring and promotion of faculty, professional development for faculty and staff, and maintains oversight of undergraduate and graduate instruction. She also participates in the strategic planning and decision-making process of the School of Arts and Sciences, providing recommendations and assistance to the Executive Dean.