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Thursday, April 18, 2013 BGSU
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Digital Cultures Institute sparks dialogue

Digital Cultures Institute sparks dialogue

One thing is becoming clear: while Big Data offer myriad exciting possibilities to the humanities, in terms of research and teaching, they also present ethical challenges. All sides will be explored during the upcoming Digital Cultures in the Age of Big Data Institute to be held on campus May 13-17.

Free to faculty, graduate students and community members, the institute offers the opportunity to meet with some leading thinkers in the field for a week of intensive exploration. From digital art to the Digital Divide, participants can become better educated and equipped to employ online research and artistic tools while becoming more critical thinkers about this emerging field.

Graduate students can earn a certificate in digital culture as well. "It's so timely and topical and will be an extra way to market yourself in your job search," said Abagail Van Vlerah, a doctoral student in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies (SCCS) specializing in American culture studies and women's, gender and sexuality studies.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for graduate students and for faculty to have free professional development," Van Vlerah said. The institute is receiving major funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and dean of the Graduate College.

Online data sources offer new techniques for researchers in the humanities. "By becoming more familiar with this new resource, we can learn to marry qualitative questions with quantitative methods," said co-organizer Dr. Jolie Sheffer, English and American culture studies.

In preparation for the May institute, faculty and graduate students have been reading and studying varied aspects of Big Data during weekly reading groups organized around the institute's respective topics in order to be better informed and able to get the most out of meetings with the guest speakers.

"As an ethnic studies scholar, when I read about Big Data, it raised a set of questions," said Dr. Susana Peña, SCCS director. "How will it be used, and for whose benefit? Who owns it? How will Big Data intersect with race and gender issues? I think the ethics of Big Data will be the major issue for our time."

Peña has been leading one of the groups on Digital Democracy, the Digital Divide and the Politics of Big Data.

"The discussions have been so interesting," said Van Vlerah. "People bring their own thoughts and experiences from their classrooms and their research. It has been a rich conversation. As scholars and educators, we are responsible for change, and this gives us a forum to initiate dialogue. These are issues that touch on all aspects of society and it's a great opportunity for interdisciplinary work."

"I'm excited to meet the people whose work we've been reading and ask them if they've come to see issues differently since their work was published," Peña added.

The institute has also attracted the attention of people not in the humanities, such as alumnus and former BGSU computer science instructor Keith Instone, now a user-experience consultant.

"For me as a user experience consultant, I usually focus on the impact of corporate culture on how companies design experiences. But that corporate culture is influenced by the broader digital context. For example, a lot of companies are now trying to 'build Facebook behind the firewall' to address business challenges. I hope that the conference will help give me the theoretical foundation on which I can make stronger strategic recommendations to my clients. Aspects of Big Data that are affecting the humanities are affecting corporations, of course, so this aspect is also relevant."

Visit the digital cultures institute website.


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BGSU students to share economic development findings with area leaders

Civic and University leaders will gather to hear findings and recommendations on an array of community needs at the BGSU Economic Development Summit April 24.

Students in BGSU's Master of Public Administration Program will present their work on four projects:

  • A Bowling Green workforce needs assessment

  • The Bowling Green Buy Local Campaign

  • A Wood County Airport revenue study, and

  • A coordinated transportation plan for Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa and Seneca counties (WSOS).

Listening will be BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers, city council members, members of the Wood County Regional Airport Authority and the transportation division of WSOS as well as representatives from the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation.

The presenters are all students of Dr. Russell Mills, political science. The projects were supported by BGSU's Office of Service-Learning. The various agencies and the communities receive free services through the partnership, and the students get hands-on experience in public administration.

The summit begins at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Express, 2150 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green. It is free and open to the public.

Read more about the students' work.

Recent changes at the Bursar's Office

In efforts to better serve students and their families, the bursar's office is now accepting Visa credit or debit cards for tuition payments in addition to Mastercard and Discover. Credit card payments are accepted online or by phone 1-866-484-0436. All credit card payments are subject to a service fee.

Ethics of self-defense, Academic Resource Center changes - In Brief

The topic of the upcoming Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy, "The Ethics of Self-Defense," is right at the forefront of policy-makers' minds at the moment. The Academic Resource Center will have a new name and a new location by the time students return in the fall.

Zoom News is provided as a service to BGSU faculty and staff.

April 17, 2013