For attendees and members of the general public who are interested in the research basis for the factual claims made by Assoc. Prof. Lorien Lake-Corral and myself in our presentation on discrimination and the KKK in Maine, please feel free to download the powerpoint file attached below, which contains not only our presentation slides but also an appendix on discrimination and a complete set of references.
Interdisciplinary Faculty Panel: What is Research?
Lisa Botshon, Professor of English
Rosie Curtis, Lecturer in Architecture
Sarah Hentges, Associate Professor of American Studies
Peter Milligan, Professor of Biology
Carey Clark, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Moderator
Tuesday, November 3, 12 Noon
University of Maine at Augusta Katz Library
Members of this faculty panel will discuss their answer to the question “What is Research?” from the vantage point of their own discipline, then present examples of their own current research projects. Moderator Carey Clark will encourage movement from multidisciplinary presentation to interdisciplinary discussion.
All members of the public and the UMA community are welcome to attend this faculty panel. Please encourage students considering or engaged in research projects to attend. Light refreshments will be served.
FMI: James Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-621-3190
- 2014-2015: Andrew Radford (policy memo currently in development)
- 2012-2013: Al French, Implementation of State Licensing Requirements for Medical Qigong, Tai Chi and Wellness-Based Yoga
- 2011-2012: John McLaughlin, Increasing Private Well Testing in the State of Maine
- 2010-2011: Mary Lynch, Risk Management for Maine’s Increased Exposure to Future Oil Shocks Through Industry-supported Private Sector Initiatives
Like many institutions of higher education these days, the University of Maine at Augusta communicates about its accomplishments and keeps track of the work of others using the social media service Twitter. In its communications, UMA traces the paths of the community that surrounds it.
Unlike the social media platform Facebook (oriented toward friend and family relationships) or Pinterest (devoted to the sharing of images), Twitter acts like a news clipping service of sorts. Limited to 140 characters of text, Twitter posts are like headlines in a newspaper, with links to web pages containing more information. Making headlines social, Twitter posts can mention other Twitter accounts that are relevant to the story. By tracking those mentions, we can find communities of posters who find one another’s work relevant.
To generate the social network graph you see below, I’ve searched through all Twitter posts made this year by the university’s official account, @UMAugusta, and identified all of the other Twitter accounts that @UMAugusta has mentioned. In a second step, I looked at the records of each of the Twitter accounts @UMAugusta mentioned and found out whether and how often they referred to one another. The result, formally speaking, is a level 1.5 ego network. In the graph below, Twitter accounts are indicated with labeled dots; in the parlance of social network analysis, these are called “nodes” or “vertices.” The larger a dot is in the graph, the more often it is mentioned by other Twitter accounts. Mentions between Twitter accounts are indicated with curved lines, which network analysts refer to variously as “lines,” “arcs,” “edges” or “ties.” The darker a line is, the more often mentioning occurred between two Twitter accounts.
To highlight structure in the network of mentions surrounding @UMAugusta, I identified five clusters of Twitter accounts who mentioned one another especially often. These clusters are color-coded in the network graph above. Because the identification of clusters of conversants was driven by data, not by pre-conceived notions about which accounts might “naturally” be grouped together, it is curious to see how particular clusters focus on particular domains. Some patterns:
- The dark green cluster in the lower-right of the graph consists strongly of offices and officers connected to student life and services at the University of Maine at Augusta.
- The dark blue cluster in the upper-left of the graph is anchored around newspapers and newspaper reporters of central and southern Maine — the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal of Augusta and the Morning Sentinel of Waterville. These three newspapers are not simply tied by geography, but are also published under the aegis of the MaineToday Media company; @centralmesports is a joint outlet of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. Other central Maine institutions — Colby College and the Holocaust & Human Rights Center — are also featured in this cluster.
- The light green cluster in the lower-left of the graph features strong representation in the arts, with the 5 Rivers Arts Alliance, Harlow Gallery, photographer Jill Guthrie, and The Band Apollo included.
- Immediate substantive commonalities in the red upper-right cluster, including my own account, the Maine State Library, the Maine Humanities Council and a edu-metrics website NerdScholar are elusive. We are tied to one another because of our mutual communications across disciplinary boundaries.
- The light-blue cluster at the bottom of the graph is a remainder category, consisting mostly of Twitter accounts that UMA has mentioned but that do not mention other accounts often.
- Finally, although these clusters identify groups of accounts that communicate more often internally, connections between clusters are frequent, indicating that most of the accounts mentioned by the University of Maine at Augusta are part of a broader community.
On October 15, 2014 the Social Science program at the University of Maine at Augusta hosted a debate between the two candidates on the ballot to become the next mayor of Augusta, Maine. Cosponsored with the Kennebec Journal, the debate asked city councilors William Dowling and David Rollins to address questions driven by available social science data regarding the city of Augusta. I had the enjoyable privilege of moderating, while fellow professor and sociologiest Lorien Lake-Corral fielded and filtered audience questions.
A video of the debate is available below (with audio kicking in about 20 seconds in):
During the debate, reference is made to a series of charts drawing from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. These charts, reproduced below, place the circumstances of the city of Augusta in the context of the other large communities in Maine and the nation itself, describing property crime rates, violent crime rates, median household income, food stamp use, female labor force participation and the sex gap in pay for Augusta and its peer cities.
Finally, budget materials for the city of Augusta in fiscal year 2014-2015, referred to often during the debate, can be found here.
As you evaluate the debate performances of Bill Dowling and Dave Rollins, I encourage you to consider their committments and demurrals with regard to the social challenges Augusta faces. Also think about the budgeting choices the candidates have made as councilors. In that context, how do you think they’ve done?
UMA Convocation Fall 2014
Framing the Theme – “Innovation”
Good afternoon. Last spring, the UMA Faculty Colloquium Committee identified a special theme of innovation to reflect the University’s 50th anniversary. The committee asks that every member of the faculty, staff and student body read and reflect upon a book about innovation, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Look for activities throughout the year celebrating UMA’s 50 years of innovation. As we kick off the year today, I’ve been asked to frame the theme of innovation in a few remarks.
When most of us hear the word “innovation,” we focus on the creation of something new. But there is more to innovation than newness. The word “innovation” comes from the Latin innovare, to renew or to make new. What do we renew? What do we make new? Something that was already there. To innovate is to make something new out of what came before.
To write a “novel” means literally to create a story that is new. But in the introduction to her novel Frankenstein, a novel of ghastly innovation, author Mary Shelley admits stitching together her story from the science, philosophy and mythology of the day before adding her own animating spark. “Everything must have a beginning,” Shelley writes, but “that beginning must be linked to something that went before…. Invention does not consist in creating out of void… the materials must, in the first place, be afforded.[i]” The innovative stories we tell are based on what came before.
Every human being on Earth is a unique innovation, a Frankenstein experiment of sorts, with a genome ripped from our parents and stitched together in a brand new way. Thanks to mutation, even identical twins don’t have exactly the same set of genes. But neither is any human being entirely new. We are variations on the genetic themes set by our parents, and as social scientists know we draw heavily from our environment in fashioning our public selves. The new, innovative you is based on what came before.
The University of Maine at Augusta is itself an innovation. Our history tells us that 50 years ago, there was no college or university in Augusta – and when UMA held its first classes on September 12 1965, it had no campus of its own. Our first classrooms were in Cony High School, set aside for use after school hours; that’s innovative. Our bookstore was fit into a Cony High School coat closet; that’s innovative[ii]. Even these humble beginnings were not completely new, but based on what came before: an existing school, repurposed and reimagined. In its next 50 years, UMA will rely on already existing strengths as it finds innovative new ways to fulfill its purpose.
And what is that purpose? What is a university for? At first glance, it may appear to some that a university is a business selling a product called a diploma to customers called students. Once purchased, the diploma product can be redeemed by the customer for future economic profit. Well, it certainly takes money for a person to live and for a university to run. But is an education just another consumer purchase? Is a university an assembly-line factory? Are faculty here to sell? Are students here to shop?
I think not. We are here because we share a dream. We dream of becoming more than we are. We dream of remaking ourselves, putting parts of our lives that came before together with something new and adding an animating spark. We know this dream of innovation can come true because we see it happen here every day — for some sooner, for some a bit later. The poet Adelaide Anne Procter shares a truth we at UMA know well: if we miss our first shot at remaking ourselves a second chance, a third chance will come. It is never too late. Procter writes:
“Have we not all, amid life’s petty strife,
Some pure ideal of a noble life
That once seemed possible? Did we not hear
The flutter of its wings, and feel it near,
And just within our reach? It was. And yet
We lost it in this daily jar and fret,
And now live idle in a vague regret;
But still our place is kept, and it will wait,
Ready for us to fill it, soon or late.
No star is ever lost we once have seen,
We always may be what we might have been[iii].”
This is the heart of innovation: to draw from what came before, to honor those who inspire your work today, to dream of being more than you are.
[i] Shelley, Mary. 1818. Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones.
[ii] Brookes, Kenneth. 1977. The Story of the University of Maine at Augusta: The Jewett Years. University of Maine at Augusta publication.
[iii] Procter, Adelaide Anne. 1864. “A Legend of Provence” (excerpt). P. 191 in The Poems of Adelaide A. Procter. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.