Department of Your Department

The Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE) supports targeted creative, interactive, multi- and interdisciplinary research endeavors involving the social sciences, humanities, and the arts. The programmatic focus is social and individual transformation. The scholarship focus is on the causes and consequences of the increased interdependence of economic, social, political, and institutional systems. Research extends from public policy to personal identity and including explorations of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. ISCE also collaborates with other research institutes at Virginia Tech on a variety of topics, including applied ethics, cognitive decision-making, and medical rhetoric.

There are five research focus areas

  1. The Global Issues Initiative addresses international policy questions in such areas as trade and economic integration, global security, counter-terrorism, and public health and science.
  2. The Human Development and Health focus area has produced two initiatives:
    • Human Development focuses on individual development within the context of the family, community, such as schools, and society, such as diverse cultures.

    • Social and Behavioral Health examines physical, mental, and environmental health influences on quality of life of individuals, families, and communities, including the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to address major public health concerns such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, slips and falls, and cognitive impairment.
  3. The Rhetoric, Representation, And Public Humanities focus area addresses the transformative effects of technology on society, new media and communication technologies, language and symbolic systems, and  human creativity and technology.
  4. The Social Complexity and Individual Risk focus area includes ethics, risk analysis, disaster management, and ecosystem impact. A Ethics Research Initiative, in collaboration with the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science and the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, provides funding for research projects.
  5. The Community Arts, Built Environments, And Urban Formations focus area looks at symbolic thinking and practical environments, for example.


  • Resources for Researchers
    ISCE assists faculty members with proposal writing and provides links to potential funding sources.
  • Summer Scholars Program
    ISCE is particularly interested in supporting interdisciplinary teams comprised of relatively new plus more-experienced investigatorsto address issues of social and individual transformation tied to one of ISCE's initiatives or focus areas. Awards range from $15,000 to $30,000 and are expected to result in a viable proposal to an outside funding group. Requests for proposals are announced in the fall on the ISCE homepage and awards are made in the spring.
  • Special Interest Group (SIG)
    The goal of an ISCE SIG is to promote and encourage scholarly and productive exchanges among a disciplinarily diverse group of faculty scholars. The long-term goal for SIG members is to congeal their expertise and to participate in securing extramural funding for research and scholarship that informs and promotes positive individual and societal change. If you are interested in joining a SIG or have an idea for forming one, contact Karen Roberto at



ISCE in the News