I met for the last time with my last class at MSU in the Department of Media and Information. In a university with over 50,000 students, I am still able to teach a small class with three students – a virtual small tutorial. This one was on media and information policy with students doing papers on the moral panic over fake news (or is it warranted), whether there is a knowledge gap in understanding search algorithms that is shaped by socioeconomic factors, and a study of how to bridge broadband divides in Michigan.
So thanks to the Department and the College as well as the students for such an enjoyable way to conclude my teaching at MSU. I began as an undergraduate at the University of Missouri by tutoring the athletes in political science. I think I’ve always learned more than the students in my classes, but they always humor me. Thank you.
I just participated in a Universitas 21 Gradudate Research Conference – this one held around the topic of our digital future and held at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), China, from 9-12 June 2015. It was organised by SJTU’s School of Media and Design in collaboration with the university’s Division of Cooperation and Exchange.
It was the first experience I have had with this scheme, even though it has been in operation since 1997. I left very impressed with the idea and its implementation. It brought together a strong international set of graduate students from an amazingly diverse range of disciplines, from Internet studies to chemistry.
Essentially, some 29 universities collaborate in this U21 network. Members propose topics for conferences that they will administer, and SJTU proposed a topic for this particular meeting on our ‘Digital Future’. Once a theme or topic is accepted, each university in the network solicits proposals from graduate students across their respective universities. Each university then reviews the proposals and selects one to three students, for whom they support travel to attend the conference. The hosting university then provides facilities and support for local food and lodging.
Given an increasing focus on interdisciplinary issues, such as digital futures, this scheme merits consideration. Most other seminars and conferences I’ve attended around similar topics are more confined to a few disciplines or fields, as they are more likely to be organized by networks within particular fields. This university-centered, rather than disciplinary-centric, approach seemed to have yielded a truly interdisciplinary set of students of high quality. Chosen by their respective universities, it was apparent that they were excellent presenters and model students to the person.
Of course, so much depends on the topic, the location, the timing, management, and much more, but the approach of this U21 network merits consideration.
I am not part of this network, beyond speaking at this particular conference, but more information about Universitas 21, which calls itself ‘the leading global network of research universities for the 21st century’ is available online, of course, at: http://www.universitas21.com
I am coming to the end of my first graduate seminar since moving to MSU, and finding the experience particularly rewarding. Perhaps many stars aligned, such as having a small seminar, or as I get more experience in the classroom, I simply enjoy the experience more, but this semester was terrific.
My class was on Media and Information Policy. It covered a wide range of broad topics, such as privacy and surveillance, intellectual property, access and more (850 Course-22JAN15). The students could then do presentations related to the topics of most interest, and write their paper on one particular topic, allowing them to go into depth on what interested them most. This is pretty standard, but what a pleasure to spend three hours a week talking about topics that I find valuable to my own work with students who are bright and engaged, and writing papers on such issues as interesting and diverse as the right to be forgotten, municipal broadband, copyright in the music industry, cybersecurity, and media concentration, focusing on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger? During the term, one of the students won a Presidential Fellowship to pursue these issues, while another arranged the music for a parody music video of the MSU basketball team that generated tens of thousands of views. Looking forward to seeing the completed papers this week. On top of that, I had a couple of doctoral students auditing, and a Visiting Fellow from Israel, Dr Avsha Ginosar, sitting in and adding to the mix of perspectives. Great to be back in the classroom.