2014-2015 Graduate Student Collaboration Fellows Announced!

The Social Science Research Center’s (SSRC) Graduate Student Collaboration Fellowship (GSCF) is a research and collaboration opportunity for DePaul Graduate Students. This new fellowship program in quantitative inquiry and methods offers graduate students office space, interdisciplinary collaboration, technical assistance in statistics and methodology, as well as opportunities to learn additional software programs. In exchange for mentoring and training opportunities, graduate students contribute to research projects and programming within the SSRC.  Earlier this year Miranda Quinn, Vanessa Brown, Leah Barth, Joseph Cunanan, Dionne Brown, Nadia Spawn, and Kimberly Kim were selected as the inaugural cohort of GSCF Fellows.

Miranda Quinn is a native Chicagoan and graduate student in DePaul University’s School of Public Service. She is pursuing a Master of Science in Public Service Management with a concentration in higher education administration. Miranda is a Double Demon, having received her Bachelor of Arts in African and Black Diaspora Studies. Her research interests include the intellectual history of race, the sociology of knowledge, and access and diversity in higher education. As an undergraduate, Miranda was a participant in the McNair Scholars Program and conducted research on the ethnographic display of Africans and people of African descent in zoos, museums, and at international exhibitions, such as world’s fairs. Her career goal is to be a professor and higher education administrator. She will be applying for admission to cultural anthropology doctoral programs in the near future. Miranda enjoys dancing, writing poetry, and trying new cooking recipes within her 7-year-old daughter, Wisdom.

Vanessa Brown received her B.A. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis where she was a John B. Ervin Scholar and Enterprise Scholar. She spent several years in the financial services industry holding positions such as Financial Advisor and Investment Manager. Currently, Vanessa is pursuing her Master of Arts in Sociology at DePaul University. She holds the position of Graduate Assistant for the department. Her research specialty is the sociology of education and includes areas such as for-profit college attendance and mental health disclosure among college students. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys traveling with her husband James and playing with their dog Tucker.

Leah Barth is second year student in the Masters of Public Health Program with an interest in community health programming, evaluation, and biostatistics. Currently, she is an intern with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health in the special projects and evaluation program. As part of the ICAH team, she is helping to transform public consciousness through advocacy and increasing the capacity of family, school, and healthcare systems to support the sexual health, rights, and identities of youth. She is interested in pursuing a career in the fields of youth advocacy, program planning, public health informatics, and epidemiology of chronic illnesses.

Joseph Cunanan has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Florida. He is currently a 2nd year graduate student from the School of Public Service, pursuing an M.S. in Public Service Management with a concentration in Metropolitan Planning and Urban Affairs. His most recent study abroad trip was to Curitiba, Brazil on behalf of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute to evaluate the city’s civic policies and innovative transit system that has made it a highly livable urban area into the 21st century. He is currently an intern for the Congress for the New Urbanism, a non-profit that works with multi-disciplinary professionals to promote walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl. His current research interests are urban greenways and their effects on community and economic development.

Dionne Brown is an eccentric post-structural Sociologist analyzing/reporting on topics that situate realistic views about how social processes allow for successful [re]integration in societies. Specifically, Dionne is interested in how ‘anomy/anomie’ occurs as a result of adaptation and regulation. In addressing such topics, Dionne uses art as a sociological tool for identifying/explaining hypothetical/theoretical positions pertaining to the presence/cause of ‘anomy/anomie.’ Dionne’s ultimate plan is to access opportunities for publishing these post-structural perspectives/findings. Identifying life course themes is also a qualitative component of Dionne’s research. For the researcher, quantitative components in part, aim at analyzing archival data that contribute to the conditions of ‘anomy/anomie’ that Dionne showcases in works of art and/or retrieves through acknowledgements of life course. Ultimately, Dionne’s aim is to conduct research on scenarios pertaining to ‘anomy/anomie,’ thus, identifying/analyzing factors of [de]regulated societies.

Nadia Spawn is a first-year graduate student in the Masters Entry to Nursing Practice program with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Her research interests include nurse education & professional development, community healthcare resources for low-income and minority populations, and wellness programming. She is a member of the DePaul Student Nurses Association and the Zeta Sigma chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. When not on-campus, Nadia works as a Sitter at Macneal Hospital, volunteers with senior citizens at the Near West Side Community Development Corporation, and enjoys spending her free time Latin & Swing dancing. Her future goals include getting research published, working in the Emergency Department post-graduation, entering a PhD program, and eventually working as a nurse educator at an institution of higher education.

Kimberly Kim is a sophomore majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in evolution and ecology and minoring in Chemistry at DePaul University. She is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Kenshu Shimada, conducting research on different species of ancient sharks. She volunteers at a medical clinic that serves highly populated and underprivileged areas and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She is the founder and president of the Pathways Honors Executive Board, a pre-medical advising organization and is a Resident Advisor. In her spare time she loves swimming and baking desserts.

The SSRC announces the Graduate Student Collaboration Fellowship 2014-2015

It can be prohibitively difficult for graduate students of terminal master’s degree programs to be well-positioned for success in PhD programs. The convention of traditional terminal master’s programs to emphasize non-analytical skills and non-research activities may preclude some MA graduates from developing the solid foundations necessary for rigorous doctoral study. Moreover, DePaul’s status as a commuter school for many students makes collaboration among grad students a difficult and time consuming endeavor with uncertain payoffs. What many graduate students need is dedicated space for scholarship and collaboration (with other graduate students and faculty), as well as opportunities to learn new methods and skills, in a way that complements their current course of study.

8052025538_dd6764d9d6_oThe Social Science Research Center’s (SSRC) Graduate Student Collaboration Fellowship (GSCF) addresses these needs. This new fellowship program in quantitative inquiry and methods will offer three graduate students office space, interdisciplinary collaboration, technical assistance in statistics and methodology, as well as opportunities to learn new software programs. The inaugural fellowship will occur during the fall and spring quarters of the 2014-2015 academic year. In exchange for training, mentorship, technical assistance, and physical resources provided by the SSRC, GSCF fellows will participate and assist in SSRC programming and research for 4-8 hours a week.

Application materials are due by September 15, 2014. The three applications selected as fellows will be announced October 1, 2014. Fellowships may be renewed if the participant demonstrates substantial progress and could benefit from continued development with SSRC resources.

Applications should be sent to Jessi Bishop-Royse at jbishopr@depaul.edu.

Full application requirements and instructions can be found here: http://condor.depaul.edu/ssrc/fellowships.html

Color Me Surprised: America is More Polarized than it was 20 years ago

Pew ran a piece last week on the Political Polarization of the American public.

Using data collected on a national survey of 10,013 adults nationwide from January 23-March 16, 2014, the Pew Research Center found that Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any other point in the last two decades.  Not surprisingly, these divisions are greatest among those who are most engaged and active in the political process.


I guess the most intriguing thing about the article was how it wasn’t surprising.  When the line between facts and opinions is porous as we are now seeing, I guess it isn’t surprising that people become more consistent in their belief structures and ideologies.  This wouldn’t be a problem, except that now things like “news” and “fact” exist as positions on a spectrum of red to blue.

Take for example, the controversy that rose from comments by the Dixie chicks front woman Natalie Maines during a performance in London about George Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003.  Her remark: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”  The kerfuffle was swift, and Maines became subject of death threats.  Fast forward to earlier this year when southern rocker Ted Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” who should be convicted of treason.  Where is the outrage?  Where are the calls to boycott Nugent?

I’d be interested to know to what extent the rise of cable news and alternative “news” sources available to consumers influenced this polarization.  Twenty or thirty years ago, the news was the news.  Viewers couldn’t choose the flavor of their news like we choose cool ranch or nacho cheese doritos.  Thoughts?

Mess Hall: Collaboration at DePaul

How well does DePaul support cross-disciplinary collaboration? While intra-college projects do happen, a model for accommodating partnerships across colleges seems more pipe dream than reality. Moving innovative collaborative projects from the individual “hero-driven” approach to a process supported and valued by the institution was the topic of the May 19 Mess Hall session by Robin Burke of the College of Computing and Digital Media. Within the frame of innovation and supporting collaboration, Robin also discussed CIRSCI, the Collaboratory for Interdisciplinary Research, Scholarship and Curricular Innovation that he and SSRC Director Greg Scott have proposed to DPU administration.

“If you want to work together, you’ve got to be together,” Robin declared. A good starting point, Robin suggested, might be locating informal meeting spaces and federating existing institutes or resources that could facilitate fledgling partnerships. We recorded Robin’s brief presentation, which you can watch here. You can access related documents the links below.

Slides: A Collaboratory to Support Interdisciplinary Projects

CIRSCI Proposal

Faculty Council Resolution: Support for Collaboration

Discussion following the presentation focused on communication and documentation of both new and existing projects. Where can potential collaborators find each other or meet to hatch ideas—temporary pop-up locations and events, perhaps? What examples are underway at DePaul and where can we learn about them—maybe document them through a website? What constitutes an acceptable collaborative end product and how do you demonstrate value?

Let’s continue the discussion and talk about collaboration. What do we need? How do we get there?

Last night, a show on HBO called “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” featured one of the most stunning visualizations of the “debate” over climate change I’ve seen to date.


In it John Oliver ridicules the way cable news organizations present climate change “debates” for their viewers.  Mostly, it is one climate change denier “debating” Bill Nye (of Science Guy fame), which makes it appear to the viewer, that scientists view the issue as contentious, with experts split 50-50 with half agreeing with the idea that humans are causing climate change and the other half, well, not.  In reality, there is not nearly that kind of uncertainty in climate change research.  This paper has already been written, reviewed, accepted, and published.  Cook et al (2013), found that 97.1% of the research on the topic endorses the view that humans are causing global warming.

Oliver’s critique is, that the preference for presenting both sides of an issue equally is problematic when there really is no debate, that is, when an overwhelming majority of scientists agree on the major components.  Perhaps this convention is best reserved for issues where debate can contribute meaningfully to some process, like the selection of presidents.  Debate there is good, right?  Get each candidate on record talking about issues that concern Americans.  The deference towards covering all aspects of an issue equally, is problematic when there is no debate.  For these cases, it might be useful to ask Bill Nye and Stephen Hawking to debate which number is greater: 5 or 15.

This ridiculousness is particularly evident in cases such as causes of climate change or the non association between vaccines and autism.  The convention of illustrating “the sides” of an issue with representatives expressing their opinion becomes problematic for Americans, who are consuming greater amounts of information and opinion that masquerades as “news”.

Authors of dystopian literature often conceptualize the downfall of society as an acute event: a nuclear war with cyborgs, a zombie outbreak, or global pandemic.  What if the downfall of society, of modern civilization wasn’t such a catastrophic event, but a series of minor events?


In 50, 100, or 200 years, are historians going to look back on what happened with media and view it as the beginning of the end of modern civilization?  Is there a way that things like eroding structures of scientific and intellectual authority, consolidation of political power through changes in campaign finance (and the inevitable increases in social and economic inequality these will bring), as well as growing narcissism occurring alongside declines in community cohesion contribute to civilization?  To society as we know it?