Faculty committees at work on strategies to advance Emory College plan

By Kim Urquhart | Emory Report | April 22, 2013

Five faculty committees are studying new and emerging growth areas in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, appointed by Dean Robin Forman to develop strategies for a multiyear plan to invest in strengths of the arts and sciences and in new interdisciplinary areas of instruction and inquiry.  Each committee has a membership of active scholars from multiple departments representing a wide range of interdisciplinary fields. Here is an update on how the Emory College plan is moving forward:

Committee: Digital Studies and New Media Across the Arts and Sciences

Charge:

As our global society becomes networked through new media, Emory has several departments on campus investing in the study of the impact of technology on the human condition. This committee will ask how to best create a coordinated effort that will have impact across Emory College's curriculum. The committee will explore how to embrace and explore the role of digital media as a platform for artistic expression, as well as the growing role of social media in political and social dynamics.  

Chaired By:

Timothy Dowd, associate professor, sociology  

Members:

  • Eugene Agichtein, associate professor, math and computer science

  • Matthew Bernstein, professor/chair, film studies

  • Steve Everett, professor, music composition/computer music, music

  • James Hoesterey, assistant professor, religion

  • Hank Klibanoff, James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism

  • Shannon O'Daniel, business analyst III, Office of Information Technology, UTS Faculty Services

  • Leslie Taylor, professor, theater studies and director, Center for Creativity & Arts, theater studies

  • Allen Tullos, professor, Institute of Liberal Arts

On the Agenda:

The committee hosted an April 5 public forum to gather information about existing efforts around campus and to connect colleagues with others working in digital studies and new media in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. At the symposium, faculty from anthropology, computer science, environmental studies and journalism — among others — shared the existing and emerging research and teaching they and their colleagues are doing in digital studies and new media. "We heard a diversity of approaches and an amazing array (of examples)," Dowd says. Casting an eye to the outside, the committee is also researching what peer schools and non-academic institutions are doing with digital studies and new media.

Timeline:

Expects to submit a 25-page white paper with ideas and recommendations to the dean by May.  

Of Note:

"As a recommending committee, we are reaching out to faculty and other members of the Emory College community to engage in dialogue," says Dowd. "We are working to get suggestions from all interested parties."

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Committee: Enhancing the Undergraduate Science Experience

Charge:

Preparing scientifically literate citizens is one of the core missions of Emory College. The questions of both what Emory College teaches and how it's taught in the undergraduate science classroom have been the subject of considerable research and debate in recent years. Based on the realization that aims in this arena will be best achieved with a coordinated effort that cuts across all science departments, this committee will work with that scholarship in order to understand what investments should be made to ensure that Emory College is providing its students the world-class education that they deserve.  

Chaired By:

Cora MacBeth, assistant dean of student affairs, Laney Graduate School and assistant professor of chemistry

Members:

  • Dwight Duffus, Goodrich C. White Professor, mathematics

  • Laura Finzi, associate professor, physics

  • Nicole Gerardo, assistant professor, biology

  • Anne Hall, lecturer, environmental studies

  • Ilya Nemenman, associate professor, physics and biology

  • Tracy Scott, senior lecturer, sociology

  • José Soria, senior lecturer, chemistry

  • Alessandro Veneziani, associate professor, math and computer science

On The Agenda:

The committee, which will begin meeting soon, will examine "what we are doing well in our undergraduate science curriculum and to ask how we might improve the
experience for our students," says MacBeth. Charged with examining 
student success and accessibility, central questions include "Are we reaching and engaging the
broadest possible community of undergraduates? Is our undergraduate 
science curriculum really preparing our students to understand and work on 
interdisciplinary problems?" Committee members will be asked to seek input and guidance from the faculty in their home departments. The committee will also be reviewing recent publications and reports from national professional organizations that make recommendations regarding student success and engagement in the undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Timeline:

Expects to submit a final report to the College with recommendations by the end of 2013 or early 2014.

Of Note:

"I think it is important to realize that the formation of this committee is meant to provide a centralized voice for the individual departments and help identify strategies and resources that will help departments get where they want to go efficiently," says MacBeth. "We do a really good job with science education at Emory. What we want the committee to do is take it to the next level — fine-tuning what we do well — and to make sure we're on the forefront for preparing our students for different opportunities, and put the resources in place to make sure we maintain a position of strength. "

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Committee: Fostering Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Teaching

Charge:

Emory has been a leader in fostering interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching, a fact that has played a central role in its success. At the same time, there is a need to revisit current structures for supporting research and teaching that crosses disciplines, and devise new ways of supporting research and teaching that crosses departmental and disciplinary boundaries, including doctoral education. Support for interdisciplinary work should be available for faculty and students across the college, no matter their departmental home.

Chaired By:

Laura Otis, professor of English

Members:

  • John Banja, professor, Center for Ethics

  • Arri Eisen, professor of pedagogy, biology

  • Steve Everett, director of the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence and professor of music

  • Robin Fivush, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor/chair, psychology

  • Sander Gilman, professor, Institute of Liberal Arts

  • David Lynn, professor/chair, chemistry

  • Michael Moon, professor, Institute of Liberal Arts

  • Elizabeth Wilson, professor, women's studies

On the Agenda:

At its first meeting last fall, committee members were asked to look at other institutions around the world with good structures for interdisciplinary work. In subsequent meetings, members reported back on their research and talked about how what they found might work at Emory. The committee is "mainly pragmatic rather than theoretical," explains Otis. "Our work is more about how can this work be done?" Central questions the group is exploring include: How can interdisciplinary work best be promoted at Emory? Are there changes that would make it easier to do interdisciplinary work, especially involving collaboration?

Timeline:

Expects to submit an advisory report to the dean in May.

Of Note:

Clarifies Otis:"We don't have the power to make any decisions on what will happen to the Institute of Liberal Arts, or how money is invested or whether programs will be cut or come into existence." Instead, the committee will study and make recommendations based on best practices at other schools and looking within, she says.

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Committee: Neuroscience: From Brain to Behavior

Charge:

With an innovative major in neuroscience and behavioral biology, as well as leading neuroscientists in both Emory College and elsewhere in the University, Emory already stands among the leaders in neuroscience. Emory College seeks to build on those accomplishments, and find ways of connecting the existing strengths to enhance the research environment for collaborative work. The emphasis is on non-clinical areas of neuroscience and to integrate basic neuroscience in themes involving levels from neurons to cognition.

Chaired By:

Dieter Jaeger, professor of biology

Members:

  • Lawrence Barsalou, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, psychology

  • Gregory Berns, professor, economics

  • Ronald Calabrese, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, biology

  • Laura Namy, co-director, Emory College Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture and associate professor, psychology,

  • Joe Manns, assistant professor, psychology

  • James Rilling, associate professor, anthropology

On the Agenda:

This research committee is focused on enhancing research quality and opportunities, support structure and interdisciplinarity at Emory College with a goal of bringing neuroscience to an area of national and international distinction. The committee is in the information-gathering phase, having hosted two open houses this spring where "everyone who does neuroscience-related research in Emory College" was invited to talk to the committee, says Jaeger. The committee's next step is to discuss what they heard from the open houses and look for common themes, as well as to sample models from other universities with a research faculty.

Timeline:

The committee's target timeline is to have a white paper by December.

Of note:

"We are a participatory committee," says Jaeger. "We really want to distill ideas and instill enthusiasm from the bottom up, to get buy-in and feeling of ownership (from the faculty) on our ultimate recommendations." He adds that the committee is open to ideas from other schools as well as the Emory College community. "The hope is that the medical school would be involved in whatever we are engaged in, but the center of gravity would be in the College," he says, explaining: "We are already leaders in neuroscience, cognition, neuroeconomics, language and learning. Other strengths we'd clearly leave to the School of Medicine to continue to lead, like molecular analysis."

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Committee: The Study of Contemporary China

Charge:

This committee will focus on enhancing faculty strength and educational opportunities in the study of contemporary China, both by building on existing faculty expertise and targeting areas for future growth across multiple departments.

Chaired By:

Rick Doner, professor of political science

Members:

  • Tonio Andrade, associate professor, history

  • Juliette Apkarian, associate professor, Russian

  • Rong Cai, associate professor, Chinese

  • Jenny Chio, assistant professor, anthropology

  • Jeff Koplan, vice president for global health

  • Tom Remington, professor of political science

  • Holli Semetko, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Media & International Affairs

  • Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing, Goizueta Business School

  • Ya Wei Lu, director of the China Program, Carter Center

On the Agenda:

The committee will draft a strategic vision for the study of China at Emory, to provide the initial guidelines for the development of a China Studies at Emory program and to support fundraising for the program. The initial focus is on developing an undergraduate core on the study of contemporary China. "We have some good resources," says Doner, noting that next steps include discussing how to build upon existing resources for the undergraduate core for faculty research and graduate training, while identifying any gaps. Central questions include determining the scope of such a program and what to call it. The committee will also discuss the possibility of new hires, and how to link the curriculum with Emory's professional schools.

Timeline:

Expects to submit a draft proposal by mid-summer.

Of Note:

"Emory is aiming to be the primary center for the study of China in the Southeast. We're going to start with undergraduates and build up from there," says Doner. He adds: "Helping to guide fundraising is one of the functions of the committee."

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