Man shaking hands with a robot

Research in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences reflects our faculty’s uniquely interdisciplinary way of looking at the world. Funded research in HASS spans the investigation of phenomena from the very small scale to the very large scale, as well as the interconnections that occur in between.



Interdisciplinary research in the Arts Department includes projects like cognitive architecture that enable intelligent agents to reason and intuit, so that we can better understand how artists use these two cognitive abilities in order to create.

Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science researchers are investigating how perception shapes action and how vision guides the accomplishment of both simple and complex human tasks under varying circumstances and constraints. Other research investigates how we use background knowledge and context to understand language even when what is being said is ambiguous, novel, ungrammatical, and/or metaphorical.

Communication and Media

Communication and Media researchers are interested in media theory and practice. Faculty examine the representation and formation of ideas and identities in various media texts. They investigate how people communicate effectively and creatively across multiple platforms or how immersive technologies affect learning and play. Areas of research include cross-cultural communication, data visualization, graphic design, and embodied communication.


Economics researchers are employing new models to analyze the effects of various incentive-based carbon dioxide emissions regulations and exploring behavioral economics and the emerging field of neuroeconomics — the interrelationship between neuroscience and economic decision-making.

Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences

Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences researchers are working in ​interactive simulation, augmented and mixed reality experience design, virtual reality, contemporary social theory, game culture, embodied conversational agent (ECA), computational modeling of decision-making and emotion, and human-computer interaction (HCI).

Science and Technology Studies

Scholars in Science and Technology Studies (STS) are experts in the ethical, legal, and social dimensions of science, medicine, computing, and engineering. The STS Department at Rensselaer applies this expertise toward research and design for sustainable and equitable futures. Faculty and graduate students are engaged in research on diverse topics, including the opioid overdose epidemic, citizen science in environmental justice movements, the politics of large-scale research infrastructures, American history of race and medicine, the HIV epidemic in Turkey, cultures of research on neurological disorders, and community participation in nuclear waste siting decisions. 


Center for Deep Listening — Deep listening, as developed by the late composer and pioneer Pauline Oliveros, explores the difference between the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature of listening. The practice includes bodywork, sonic meditations, interactive performance, and listening to the sounds of daily life, nature, and one’s own thoughts, imagination, and dreams.

Center for Global Communication+Design (Comm+D) — The Center for Global Communication + Design is a free resource for all members of the Rensselaer community, providing strategies that help people be more effective communicators — in the classroom and beyond.

Corridor of Creativity - Located in the Sage Labs building, the Corridor of Creativity helps students take their projects from concept to reality. Comprised of multiple spaces - the Digital Fabrication Lab, Game Lab, Metal Shop, Motion Capture Studio, Sculpture Studio, and Wood Shop - students, with the mentoring of industry experienced staff, take their lessons out of the classroom to create real world, functional prototypes.


Adaptive Computational Cognition Laboratory (AdaCog) — Researchers in the AdaCog Laboratory study how the human brain can perform complex tasks in uncertain environments. This question is approached from an engineering perspective: How should one build a system that can perceive, remember, act, etc., according to rational principles, while subject to biological constraints on information processing capacity?

Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab (CISL) — The CISL Lab at Rensselaer is building the next generation cognitive and immersive situations room to augment group intelligence. Researchers in CISL come together from multiple disciplines, including computer science, cognitive science, computing systems and engineering, arts, media, communication, and health care.

Cognitive Architecture Laboratory (CogArch) — Researchers in the CogArch Lab focus on developing comprehensive models of human cognition (cognitive architectures).

CogWorks Laboratory — Researchers in the CogWorks Laboratory conduct basic and applied research, uncovering the interplay of cognition, perception, and action in routine interactive behavior. Topics of research include integrated cognitive systems, computational cognitive modeling, cognitive engineering, and much more. The lab's approach includes traditional experimental paradigms as well as video games and other complex tasks, which are treated as experimental paradigms.

PandA Laboratory — PandA Laboratory researchers explore intelligence by studying the tight linkage between perception and action. Basic questions about visual perception, motor control, and coordination are addressed by investigating routine and skilled perceptual-motor tasks, with a specific focus on visually guided actions. Experimental research is conducted in real and virtual environments, and mathematical models are developed using tools from dynamical systems theory and artificial intelligence.

Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Lab (RAIR)  — RAIR Lab researchers work across a number of applied projects, as well as across many of the fundamental questions artificial intelligence raises (e.g., Are we machines ourselves? If so, what sort of machines?). Everything is to a high degree unified by the fact that the formalisms, tools, techniques, systems, etc., that underlie the lab’s research and development are invariably based on reasoning.



The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Russell Sage Laboratory (SAGE) 5304, 110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180
(518) 276-6575

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