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SESP's New Home: The Jacobs Center

March 15, 2024
SESP returns to its former home -- the Jacobs Center -- in 2026.

Excitement is building as Northwestern begins preparations on one of the University’s top priorities, to turn the Donald P. Jacobs Center into a new hub for the social sciences and global studies.

The project, approved by the Board of Trustees earlier this month, represents a major step toward one of the commitments President Michael Schill outlined in his 2023 inaugural address to create the conditions for innovation at the intersection of academic disciplines.

The project will be home to scholars from the School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), several departments within the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), as well as the Weinberg College Center for International and Area Studies and Weinberg College’s Program in Global Health Studies.

Construction on the project, supported by a $10 million gift from University Trustee Steven A. Cahillane ’87 and Tracey Tappan Cahillane ’88 (’17, ’19 P), is expected to be completed in 2026. The planned renovations will transform underutilized space within the Jacobs Center and significantly enhance the surrounding grounds.

“Space and place matter to us and our work,” said SESP Dean Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, the Carlos Montezuma Professor. “Social policy makes us unique. But we’re also home to economists, psychologists, teachers and many other disciplines. Occupying a single space together will give us room to grow our impact and ideas.”

The building will include classrooms, meeting and seminar rooms, labs, offices, dining areas and gathering spaces for students and faculty. There will be a new multipurpose event space that can host events of up to 150 people and opens to an outdoor terrace overlooking Deering Meadow — one of several outdoor areas planned in the new landscaping.

The renovations will not only promote faculty collaboration but also enhance opportunities for students to engage with faculty and with one another — supporting the education of the world’s future leaders.