Announcing the Notre Dame Hub: Taking Students’ Academic Lives Online

The Hub @ Notre Dame is now live! The Hub takes students’ academic lives online, providing a platform for exploring ideas, presenting their work, and social networking within an academic community.

I initiated this project in the spring of 2009 at Notre Dame, so it is wonderful to see it come to fruition. Here is the opening to my original Hub Proposal:

Students today can share their personal lives on online sites like Facebook and MySpace. They do not have a comparable site for their academic lives. Through the creation of the Notre Dame Hub, students will be able to share their research and artistic creations, reflect on what they are learning, and discuss new ideas and opportunities.

The Hub will offer that through a centralized online architecture, a core group of students in charge of managing the site and handling editorial responsibility, a faculty advisory group, and content created by students from across the Notre Dame campus.

To get a full description of the Hub Project, including downloading the Hub proposal and examples of the Hub in action, head over to the full PLoS description of the Notre Dame Hub.

Daniel Lende: Looking for Graduate Students

Since I am now at the University of South Florida, I can finally mentor some graduate students! I encourage people to apply to the graduate program in anthropology here. USF accepts students at both the masters and the Ph.D. level. If you’re going to start at the Ph.D. level, your masters does not have to be in anthropology.

My research interests fall into three broad areas: neuroanthropology, medical anthropology, and applied social science. Most of my long-term research has focused on substance use and abuse, including the neuroanthropology of addiction, risk and preventive factors for drug use, and the cultural moderation of substance use.

In recent years I’ve broadened that focus to include research on alcohol use, video games, stress, and PTSD. I might also develop a project on frontotemporal dementia. I have also done work on breast cancer and embodiment, new media & technology, and public anthropology. I use both quantitative and qualitative methods, and advocate combining theory-driven work with community-based research.

You can read more about my projects on the Neuroanthropology PLoS site. And here is my departmental website, where you can access my CV. If you want to contact me, please send me an email at dlende at usf dot edu.

The USF anthropology department emphasizes both theory and applied work within anthropology, and uses an interdisciplinary approach in training and mentoring students. Here is a condensed excerpt from the Department’s Mission:

Anthropology is the comparative and global study of humanity which addresses all aspects of human experience. We are committed to understanding global diversity through community-based applied research that is holistic and interdisciplinary.

Here is one of the main things to emphasize about our graduate program:

The Graduate Program at USF aims to develop creative scholars and scientists who will apply their knowledge and skills to contemporary human problems.

The graduate program has both biological and cultural tracks, and includes a concentration in biocultural medical anthropology. You can see my syllabus for my course on Biocultural Medical Anthropology here. You can also get a dual degree, with an MA in anthropology and an MPH in public health.

Click here for information on how to apply to the USF anthropology program. And here is information on financial assistance and scholarships. Applications are due December 15th, 2010.

I advocate that graduate students find both good mentors and a department that broadly fits their interests. The USF anthropology faculty has a range of expertise and interests that are a great complement to what I do.

Faculty specializations include medical anthropology, human biology, urban policy and community development, educational anthropology, media studies, ethnic policies and heritage, economic development, immigration, archaeology, cultural resource management, gender, environment, applied linguistics, and archaeological science. Geographic specializations emphasize the Caribbean, Latin America, United States, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

You can find out more about the major research themes of the department here, including biocultural dimensions of health and illness, material culture, community identity and heritage, communications and education, sustainability and development, and the social and cultural construction of race, ethnicity and gender.

USF includes a range of departments and affiliations that also complement what the anthro faculty and I do. USF Health includes programs in medicine, nursing, and public health. There is a strong department of psychology, a concentration in neuroscience research, and a broad array of other excellent programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Locally USF has affiliations with the Florida Mental Health Institute, the Moffitt Cancer Center, and the Veterans’ Hospital.

Please email me at dlende at usf dot edu if you have questions!

The Web Instead of Traditional Peer Review?

That’s a more accurate title, but I really wanted to call this post, Tenure Online?

First off, I wanted to ask the question, what do professors out there think? Can peer-review be open sourced? Is online work getting any credit, or is it still all about traditional peer reviewed articles?

The prompt for this is an article in the NY Times: Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review

The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century.

Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.

The Shakespeare Quarterly is leading the charge over in the Humanities. They handled the open comment process through Media Commons Press, which has the tagline: “Open Scholarship in Open Formats.”

The larger point comes later in the article, and it’s one I hope to hear people’s opinions about:

Today a small vanguard of digitally adept scholars is rethinking how knowledge is understood and judged by inviting online readers to comment on books in progress, compiling journals from blog posts and sometimes successfully petitioning their universities to grant promotions and tenure on the basis of non-peer-reviewed projects.

Susan Blum, Plagiarism, and Anthropology

Susan Blum, my colleague at Notre Dame, is featured in a NY Times’ article today, Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age. The basic point of the article is that students, in the age of wholesale copying and pasting on the Internet, and a culture with changing notions of authorship, have trouble understanding the academic emphasis on doing one’s work (including writing one’s own words) and citing others for their ideas, data, and other types of work.

Ms. Blum argued that student writing exhibits some of the same qualities of pastiche that drive other creative endeavors today — TV shows that constantly reference other shows or rap music that samples from earlier songs.

In an interview, she said the idea of an author whose singular effort creates an original work is rooted in Enlightenment ideas of the individual. It is buttressed by the Western concept of intellectual property rights as secured by copyright law. But both traditions are being challenged.

“Our notion of authorship and originality was born, it flourished, and it may be waning,” Ms. Blum said.

She contends that undergraduates are less interested in cultivating a unique and authentic identity — as their 1960s counterparts were — than in trying on many different personas, which the Web enables with social networking.

Based on her research with Notre Dame undergraduates, Blum published an enticing book in 2009, My Word!: Plagiarism and College.

Professors are reminded almost daily that many of today’s college students operate under an entirely new set of assumptions about originality and ethics. Practices that even a decade ago would have been regarded almost universally as academically dishonest are now commonplace. Is this development an indication of dramatic shifts in education and the larger culture? In a book that dismisses hand-wringing in favor of a rich account of how students actually think and act, Susan D. Blum discovers two cultures that exist, often uneasily, side by side in the classroom.

Relying extensively on interviews conducted by students with students, My Word! presents the voices of today’s young adults as they muse about their daily activities, their challenges, and the meanings of their college lives… Blum suggests, the real problem of academic dishonesty arises primarily from a lack of communication between two distinct cultures within the university setting. On one hand, professors and administrators regard plagiarism as a serious academic crime, an ethical transgression, even a sin against an ethos of individualism and originality. Students, on the other hand, revel in sharing, in multiplicity, in accomplishment at any cost.

Back in 2009, Susan wrote about her work in an article Academic Integrity and Student Plagiarism: a Question of Education, Not Ethics in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Susan outlined the two main approaches to preventing plagiarism, a moral one generally using honor codes and a disciplinary one requiring greater enforcement by faculty and staff.

Traditional efforts by administrators to prevent plagiarism fail for a number of reasons. For starters, students have only a vague sense of what is meant by the moral quality termed “academic integrity.” Also, rules about intellectual property are in flux.

In addition, our notion of the originality of utterance as the product of the unique, isolated, authentic self had its peak in the 1960s and 1970s. Students today have been immersed in a culture that revels in trying on different personae and sharing freely. There is no inviolable connection between words and the self that produces them. Students are not wedded to the integrity of their own writing and do not necessarily assume that others are either.

Moreover, students are mostly focused on success and achievement, a bottom-line mentality that has helped them gain admittance to the highly selective institutions that are, in fact, trying to enforce the norms of academic citation. If students pursued education for its own sake — as do most professors — they would try to produce academic work that increases learning and to model their behavior on their professors’. But many students don’t especially value the process of classroom learning — so, in fact, any process will do.

She outlines a series of practical steps to increase academic integrity by reducing plagiarism and improving students’ approach to citing others. She concludes:

Treating academic integrity as a constellation of skills, taught largely through the long apprenticeship of higher education, is the most promising approach for getting students to follow the rules of academic citation, and the one with the least likelihood of providing a shortcut. That means teaching students what academic integrity involves, why professors value it, and how exactly to carry it out.

Second annual Neuroscience Boot Camp wants you!

Not your grandad's boot camp!

Applications are now being accepted for the 2010 Neuroscience Boot Camp at the University of Pennsylvania. For more information, head on over to the Boot Camp website.

Kezia Kamentz dropped me an email and shared that last year’s Boot Camp went really well: “great teachers, a small but very diverse group of students, and a varied set of teaching methods.” Kezia said that they would love to have some anthropologists on board, and I know that there’s a few of you out there. Kezia writes:

Through a combination of lectures, break-out groups, panel discussions and laboratory visits, Boot Camp participants will gain an understanding of the methods of neuroscience and key findings on the cognitive and social-emotional functions of the brain, lifespan development and disorders of brain function. Like last year’s faculty, the 2010 Boot Camp faculty consists of leaders in the fields of cognitive and affective neuroscience who are committed to the goal of educating non-neuroscientists.

For more information.

Culture and Compulsion: Student Posts 2009

Compulsion III by Sandra Doore
Compulsion III by Sandra Doore

Here are all the student posts from this year in the order I put them up. As a group they’ve already proven popular, getting attention from a range of high-power sites and social networks. That’s great, and well-deserved!

Below I also outline how I approached this project with my students. If you want to incorporate something similar into your teaching or comparable work, feel free to use and/or adapt these guidelines. Of course any suggestions or alternative approaches are always appreciated. Leave a comment below or email me at dlende at nd dot edu

The List

Why Do They Do It? Portrayals of Alcohol on Facebook and MySpace

Gambling and Compulsion: Neurobiology Meets Casinos

What’s the Dope on Music and Drugs?

Tobacco Worse Than Cocaine?

Caught in the Net – The Internet & Compulsion

Lights, Camera… Alcohol?

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Can Videogames Actually Be Good For You?

The New Performance Enhancing Drugs

These nine posts join the eight from last year, which went from understanding brain imaging to the differences between men and women drinking on campus – those were rounded up in Why A Final Essay When We Can Do This?

Continue reading “Culture and Compulsion: Student Posts 2009”