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Northeastern CSSH

Redefining liberal arts for the 21st century

A liberal arts program where students can study comparative literature and computer science in the same class? We were immediately drawn to the unique offerings of Northeastern University’s College of Social Sciences & Humanities (CSSH). They combine the best of traditional academic rigor with forward-thinking technical skills — all anchored in a curriculum designed around Northeastern’s hallmark experiential learning.

What We Did

  • Research & Strategy
  • Web Design
  • WordPress Multisite Development
  • Algolia Integration

What We Made

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This was our first Northeastern collaboration since working on the university’s visual system, so it was an exciting challenge to bring the new brand to life on the web. With a visual and verbal identity anchored in the main university branding, we gave the college room—and a comprehensive suite of editor tools—to tell their own distinctive story.


CSSH is home to 20 unique departments and programs, and each was responsible for their own web presence. Over the years, this led to a web of duplicated content, broken links, and mismatched systems. Our goal was to to unify each of the schools under a new design system and back-end that established a single source-of-truth. These changes empower content creators to take ownership of their subsites, and pave clear paths for prospective students to find the information they need.


To better tell the CSSH story, we held student and faculty focus groups and listened to them share theirs. Their anecdotes spanned across the globe: one student spent a semester co-oping with the embassy in Saudi Arabia, while another completed a research study on wealth inequality in London. One professor took a class to the United Nations, and another was assembling a group to study the refugee crisis in Italy. We created new content types that lets admins share these pathways across the Home and People pages. Now any prospective student can go to the site and get a sense of what life could be like in Boston (and beyond).


Another insight from our research was the flexibility of a Northeastern and CSSH education. Students weren’t forced to pick between Political Science or Philosophy—they were encouraged to pursue both. We built a new interface on top of the school’s infamously complex course catalog that makes combined degrees not only simple to understand, but inspiring to put together.


A key technical endeavor of this project was architecting a WordPress multisite network so each school, department, and research center could maintain their own subsite. We built custom solutions to support this multisite environment, including an Algolia-powered global search that indexes content across all sites. Editors can also easily feature content between sites and access a shared library of blocks and templates. To support the growth of this network, we delivered a template that allows subsites to be spun up quickly. 


The college’s new ecosystem of over 20 sites showcases how the humanities are not only relevant to 21st century innovation, but essential. See for yourself at cssh.northeastern.edu.

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