Boston College’s new institute for integrated science and society, created to enhance multi-disciplinary, collaborative research processes to address critical societal issues in the areas of energy, health and the environment, was 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 is the centerpiece of a new 150,000 square-foot science facility. Construction began in the spring of 2019 at a cost of roughly $150 million and will be completed by the end of fall 2021. The new building represents the largest single investment in the sciences at Boston College. To date, more than $120 million has been raised for the new facility.
The mission of the Schiller Institute is to create and sustain emerging initiatives in basic and applied science; generate new knowledge through collaborations drawing upon the expertise that resides in all eight of BC’s schools and colleges; develop new interdisciplinary approaches to important societal problems and deploy new methods of scholarship, tools and technologies: foster scholarship and learning for and within local and global communities; educate the next generation of science and technology leaders and innovators; and promote partnerships with industry, NGOs and government organizations.
Through the Institute, Boston College will explore new interdisciplinary courses in integrated sciences and human-centered engineering, design thinking, implementation science, data analytics, global public health and other fields that will combine elements of science, engineering, humanities, law and entrepreneurship through collaboration with MCAS, BC’s professional schools, and its Shea Center for Entrepreneurship.
The Schiller Institute will take a national leadership role in advancing the science of interdisciplinarity. It will investigate the fundamental and applied implications of interdisciplinarity for teaching and scholarship, and will provide a platform for discussion and shared learnings amongst interdisciplinary centers across the country and the globe.
The Schiller Institute will be located in a new science facility adjacent to Higgins Hall, which houses BC’s Biology and Physics departments, and the Merkert Center, home to BC’s Chemistry Department. It will feature office and laboratory space for researchers, including engineering faculty, and teaching laboratories that will include computer science robotics and data visualization space. It will provide maker spaces to give students hands-on experiences in prototyping research, a clean room, and a collaboration commons for faculty and students. The new facility will also 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.
“The Schiller Institute will serve as a University crossroad for science and innovation that will integrate our existing strengths in the sciences with longstanding research strengths in the humanities, social sciences and the professional schools. The institute will advance Boston College’s distinction as a natural leader in integrated science, and a university that directs its research efforts to addressing the most challenging societal problems.”