Research in Progress

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With corporate malfeasance so much in the news these days, many people have been quick to indict the MBA training received by America’s corporate leaders. The same critics might thus be surprised to learn that faculty in the nation’s leading business schools have long been at the forefront of social science research into the foundations of cooperative and ethical behavior.

At Cornell’s Johnson School, for example, literally dozens of faculty are actively pursuing research in this area, and many of their findings have made their way into the MBA curriculum, both here and at other schools. Two examples are studies on the forces that explain why cooperation often emerges spontaneously and studies on the forces that often contribute to its breakdown.
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The body of knowledge on capital punishment, sexual harassment, punitive damages, judge and jury decision making, bankruptcy, and products liability owes much to research in the Cornell Law School. The Law School has helped to shape this knowledge.

A few examples include the leading empirical study of sexual harassment litigation in the U.S.; innovative social science research of Cornell's Law School's Dealth Penalty Project for more than a decade; and products liability reform.
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Social scientists throughout Cornell conduct research on many aspects of the human dimensions of global and local environmental challenges. These researchers—often in collaboration with faculty in the natural sciences and in association with the Center for the Environment—look to societal, legal, institutional, and behavioral factors to explain how environmental values and behaviors shape the world around us, and how shifts in thinking and policy might help improve it.

Cornell’s portfolio of environmental social science research encompasses a broad spectrum of social science fields. These researchers consider different scales at which society and the environment interact--international, national, regional, local--in a variety of contexts--watersheds, landscapes, protected areas--employing a range of theories and methods.
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Without knowledge grounded in the particulars of real events in real places and times, disciplinary involutions in theory and method run the risk of drifting away from robust conclusions, communicative competence, and social relevance. Scholars rooted in the area-studies tradition of social science celebrate grounded knowledge, yet run the risk of isolation from an infinite regress into particularism: “not in my village.” A great deal is lost from isolation and segmentation.
Among the mechanisms to promote interdisciplinary work at Cornell, the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies has been especially effective across colleges and departments. Through support of area-studies programs such as Southeast Asia or Latin America, and thematic programs such as Gender and Global Change or Peace Studies, the Einaudi Center encourages and supports interdisciplinarity.
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