Newswise — BINGHAMTON, NY – A seven-figure gift from alumna and world-renowned psychologist Ellyn Uram Kaschak will help establish the Institute for Social Justice for Women and Girls at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

“This is a wonderful investment in social sciences and humanities and what they can bring to solving really pressing problems of social justice for over half the world’s population, and we are very grateful for it and excited about it,” said Binghamton University Executive Vice President and Provost Donald Nieman.

“The institute will create an evidence base for practice to be looked at in a scholarly way,” he added, by bringing the rigor of scholarship to what are the best practices and what works, providing a feedback loop between practice and scholarship.

Susan Strehle is the founding director for the institute. With assistance from an executive committee of faculty formed across schools and disciplines, she will develop a program supporting faculty affiliates, practitioners-in-residence, and student fellows at the graduate and undergraduate levels, all while fostering public engagement and outreach.

The strength of the institute comes from the donor, Strehle said. “Ellyn’s vision is that she wants this work to go back into the real world and improve lives and opportunities for women and girls. She understands the value of academic research, but knows it can also make a difference. What a smart idea!”

Strehle said the first job of the institute will be to put out a call for proposals supporting research in this field to faculty and students. The institute will support new and ongoing research projects.

“One of the challenges is to bridge solid academic research with the need to make a ‘real-world’ difference,” she said. “Scholarship in some fields is designed for other academics. But a project that begins as an academic analysis can have clear social outcomes and, in the classroom, all of it does because of the way we teach students and talk about women and girls.

Strehle sees the institute empowering research in many different fields that will contribute to Kaschak’s activist vision of a direct, positive impact on the lives of women and girls.