Speaking Engagement: New Media and the Academy


On Friday December 2, 2011, I will be presenting at the City University of New York Information Technology Conference at  John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 from 9:30-11:00 am, Room TBD

One view of Dallas "Giving Face"!

I am very excited to travel to my hometown to connect with my colleagues and friends, after two months away in Dallas, Texas (city of rainbows!). Technically I will play part in two panel discussions by preparing comments and visuals, however I will only be able to *physically attend one because unfortunately, the sessions were scheduled concurrently. Both panels will discuss highly innovative, student-focused digital ventures at the Graduate Center, and I feel honored that my vision, work  and enthusiasm warranted the invitations to present and take part. And I have enjoyed preparing the slides and thinking about various approaches to the two projects.

I worked in the CUNY New Media Lab for two and a half years on digital project to supplement my doctoral research. I continue to put finishing touches on the project – such as filling in the digital archive or car ads, and upgrading the website template once the New Media Lab installs the newest version of WordPress. Over the years, I’ve cultivate a unique expertise which allows me to conceptualize digital and visual interventions for academic research, presentations and pedagogy. As a result, my role in the New Media Lab morphed to allow me to share my knowledge with incoming and fellow College Assistants within the lab. I have been fortunate that Managing Director Andrea Vasquez and Project Advisor Aaron Knoll respect and support my creative ventures and solid knowledge base in the practical digital humanities.

This panel is scheduled for December 2 at 9:30am – 11:00am at John Jay College 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10019, room TBD

Digital Technologies and Academic Research: The New Media Lab a Dozen Years Later
A roundtable of CUNY Graduate Center doctoral students, faculty members and administrators will reflect on the changes in digital technologies and the impact they have had on academic scholarship that has been developed and nurtured at the Lab. A series of short presentations, copiously illustrated, will explore such topics as building digital tools, the relationship between pedagogy and technology, the effect of new technologies on academic careers and what we envision for the Lab’s future.

Andrea Ades Vásquez, NML Managing Director, CUNY Graduate Center
Aaron Knoll, NML Student Advisor, CUNY Graduate Center
Shawndel Fraser, NML Doctoral Student Researcher, CUNY Graduate Center
Claire Fontaine, NML Digital Research Fellow /and Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center
Wendy Luttrel, Professor of Urban Education and Social Personality Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center

The Second (concurrent) panel presentation offers a look at Student-led initiatives, specifically through the Doctoral Students Council (DSC). The Doctoral Students Council is a dynamic, highly participatory and forward thinking, policy-making body which represents all the graduate students at the CUNY Graduate Center. Three years ago, the DSC implemented the WordPress based system OpenCUNY, of which I was an early adopter for my research blog. Later I adapted it to publicize the highly regarded, annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium, for which I was co-organizer. Back then, we were unable to get access to the original domain and host server assigned to us by CUNY. The lack of access stemmed from the lack of a methodical methods for passing on institutional knowledge, and the steep learning curve for html and other coding languages, which that particular website required. The WordPress-based OpenCUNY site was the first of many steps toward a more democratic group website and group functioning.

The panel will consist of student group representatives who will discuss the ways they use OpenCUNY. The purpose, all toward a deeper conversation about the strengths and growth opportunities inherent in student-led digital initiatives.

Fostering Student-based Media: A Look at The OpenCUNY.org Academic Medium
For three years OpenCUNY has worked with Graduate Center students to develop open-source environments for their courses, conferences, research, organizations, initiatives and activism. This roundtable brings together the coordinators and participants of OpenCUNY to explore the benefits and challenges of fostering student-based participatory media. An overview of OpenCUNY’s development, participatory governance, technological configuration and plans will be provided. A sample of participants’ media projects will also be discussed.

John D. Boy, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/gcsoc
Morgan Buck, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/hmny
Gregory Donovan, Coordinator, OpenCUNY
*Shawndel N. Fraser, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/nature
Margaret Galvan, Coordinator, OpenCUNY
Keirsten Greene, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/mediated
Keith Miyake, 2010-11 Board Member, OpenCUNY
Monique Whitaker, Participant, OpenCUNY.org/dschealth

*Since I won’t be able to present in this panel, fellow Nature Ecology Society Co-Organizers Bijan Kimiagar and Jennifer Pipitone will present our opencuny.org/nature website, innovations and challenges.

I hope to see you there! If you attend, do come by and say “hello”!

~Shawndel

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Make your mark on the Earthquake


Click here to Make your mark and write a note and add pics to the map above.

Lets record this moment and connect with others who experienced something similar. Feel free to note your emergency plan in your marker as well. 

Where were you when the earthquake shook the east coast?

I was at work when the floor shook and the building swayed.  A co-worker asked “Do you feel that?” “what the shaking? It feels like we’re having an earthquake.” I replied.  Then I started searching the news outlets: Reuters, AP, NYT, I googled “New York Earthquake” during the tremors. No dice. No news…they were probably waiting for editor’s approval 🙂

However, a little twitter fu revealed many New Yorkers tweeting for corroboration of the the sickening sway. None of us seemed to really believe it. We evacuated to the basement and outside the building, then eventually informed that it was safe to return. Events seemed to unfold in normal time, however my emotions had spiked;  so and I decided that the best way to calm myself was to think of an emergency travel plan.  I did not have a mind to twitpic the evacuation or to capture sound, but I did keep my wits about me and remained calm throughout.

What would you do if the subway tunnels collapsed and buses were unavailable?

Do you live in an outer borough? Do you and your loved ones have a plan in case of major evacuation? A meet-up site in the event that you become separated? Ladies, do you have extra nibbles  in your heavy purse, in case of emergency hunger and thirst? Fellas, do you have a purse? 

Today reminded me of the necessity of a plan. 

No matter how far-fetched, unnerving or unnecessary the rational mind might wish it, our social and economical worlds are changing. It follows logic that the physical world could also shift under our feet.  As the saying goes, prior planning prevents poor performance, so “thank you” @Sal_Castaneda for the reminder about emergency preparedness. Thank you to my other twitter friends and contacts who posted helpful links, the main on being the government preparedness site Ready.gov.

Stay grounded.

“Womanifesta” for the Future of Environmental Psychology and Geography


My thanks to Adeola Enigbokan for the color highlighting idea, which I have imitated in this post. As they say, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. Therein lay the entirety of what is not my own original inspiration within this post.  This was written originally for a workshop in which we are re-envisioning the fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography, or Psychogeography..hold the jokes, please.  I’ve edited this to be a standalone post for this blog, as it is removed from its original context, a larger, ongoing conversation with my colleagues. Onward!      

My overarching research interests involve interrogating “American” popular culture for perpetuation and sometimes creation of otherwise hidden social and systemic norms. From gender roles and associated /expected life-choice trajectories to cultural ideas, ideals, images and understandings and methods of producing nature and our relation to / with  it.  My current research uses visual analysis techniques to discern the underlying myths of nature portrayed in post–WWII car ads in National Geographic Magazine. Here is a link to a more detailed project description.     

 The Visual and The Creative 

My research , and conversations and collaborations with fellow researchers aims to expand our current bevy of methods by which we engage with the visual (analysis and methodology), and to encourage acceptance of the creative. To add the visual, is to create, assemble or find  an information base for the fields of Environmental Psychology and [Cultural] Geography (Imagined Geographies or Visual Geography) to accomplish two things:           

  1. Supports and encourages the exploration and use of visual analysis techniques to interrogate images and other material cultural artifacts for their contextual and storied content, rather than solely categorizing and counting their elements a la content analysis or adapted quantitative survey measures
  2. Allows for the dynamic presentation and sharing of said information so as to be maximally interesting, sensorially engaging and technologically relevant beyond the academy, or at least beyond one specific discipline.

3…2…1…CARE!!! OR Emoting can increase readability and interest

My second goal for the field is to advocate for storytelling techniques and/or interpretive methods that allow exploration of the sensorial aspects of our physical, cultural and social environments. This is to say that students and PhD’s alike need some exposure to publications of interest wherein language is used expressively, with all attendant emotion and individual personality. This can only serve to enrich the texture of the analysis, discussion and presentation. It is time for us to release the imposed rational objectivity of the physical sciences which often stifles the potential for brilliant insights and inspired research inquiries in our interdisciplinary and subjective fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography.            

Technology is our friend

Lastly, I sense an opportunity for Environmental Psychology and Geography to seize the opportunity to step ahead of the curve and make our fields relevant and popularly appealing again by encouraging the use of current technology in data collection, analysis, presentation and distribution. There is but a small window of time in which we can be “the first” and still have the luxury of our lead time to become “the best” at producing researchers whose methods and mediums reflect the current array of possible information flows, storage, presentation and technological advancements. The [written] word is no longer enough in a world where people read few books and “learn” from TV and the Internet.           

Signed, Shawndel N. Fraser
Static [written] Dissertations behind Dynamic PhD Student

Signed, Shawndel