Three Blogs that Academics Should be Following

Not all of our reading is necessarily productive reading.  In fact, some of it is downright garbage.  For example, despite having no interest in their media empire, and even less belief that they contribute anything of value to the universe, I, somehow, have quite an extensive file of Kardashian knowledge in my brain.  This is actually quite a feat, if you ask me, given that I have never watched any KUWTK television (or any of its BS iterations).  See what happens is, that I click on something that promises to be mildly funny/entertaining/thought-provoking/etc on The Facebook or The BuzzFeed.  And next thing you know, a click or two later and now I know all about the controversy about Kylie Jenner’s (she is part of the Kardashian tribe) new lip kit (spoiler alert: word on the street is that the thing that she is charging $29 for on her website is some $6 drug store brand.)  THE SHOCK.  THE HORROR.  And I am like, “Well, maybe she didn’t know that her lip kit…”

This cannot continue.  It cannot- because in reality there is nothing that any Kardashian/Jenner will do that will matter.  At all.  Ever.

In an effort to reclaim some of that intellectual bandwidth, I have been seeking out more sustaining content.  Here I share with you the product of these efforts.

ProfHacker: Housed at the Chronicle of Higher Education, ProfHacker covers a wide range of topics, including teaching, tech, and productivity.  There are the usual posts that you would expect in such a blog (like Tools for a Productive Workflow), but also some other great kinds of posts.  These include explorations with “specifications” grading, NearPod for classroom polling, and creating new habits with apps.

Patter: Curated by Pat Thomson, a professor at the University of Nottingham, Patter is a wonderful resource on research and writing.  Some great recent posts include, the reading and writing that no one sees, giving feedback on a paper, and writing a publishable review paper.

Explorations of Style: Written by Rachel Cayley, a professor at the University of Toronto.  Her “For New Visitors” landing page is a masterful list of the topics that most academic writers encounter on their journey, and is an absolute gem.  There is something for everyone here, from the experienced academic writer, to the haggard advisor slugging through paper after paper of underwhelming and undeveloped writing.  She has sections on productivity, mechanics, revising, audience, identity, etc.  Put this in your feedly!!!

Write on Site Fridays at Noon

The SSRC is hosting weekly “Write on Site” events during May, June, and July for DePaul Faculty, Students, and Staff.  These writing sessions will take place on Friday afternoons (from 12-2 pm) in the conference room in Suite 3100 of 990 W. Fullerton.  Bring your lunch, bring your computer, and write away from all the distractions of your office.

What does it mean to “write-on-site”? The term originated by Kerry Ann Rockquemore (Sociology and African-American studies at UIC) and pertains to writers congregating to work on their specific projects for two hours at least once a week. Although working on their own projects, writing together provides the accountability of showing up, and cultivates the sense that writers are part of a community.

The first session will take place on Friday May 6, at noon.  For information or details contact Jessi Bishop-Royse at jbishopr AT

Economic Inequality According to Adam Smith

Eliminate poverty and economic inequality disappears.  Not so, says DePaul Political Science Professor David Lay Williams, who treated a recent Mess Hall audience at the SSRC to a preview chapter from ‘The Greatest of All Plagues’: Economic Inequality in Western Political Thought, a book he’s writing for Princeton University Press.


Returning to an examination of seminal free-marketeer Adam Smith, Williams traces the recurring theme of economic inequality throughout Smith’s writings, particularly in his less celebrated book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.  And while he finds Smith’s solutions for alleviating desperate poverty stronger than those addressing economic inequality, he points out that Smith was quick to recognize potential pitfalls of inequality at the nascent roots of capitalism.

Smith, whose own 18th Century Scotland was marked by great economic inequality, ascribed its development to a combination of people’s tendencies to base their actions on self-interest, the desire for rank and distinction, and an appetite for both superiority and domination over others.  In commercial societies where people are considered responsible for their station in life where success is measured by wealth and poverty equals failure, two separate moral codes can evolve, observed Smith.  People’s inclination to worship the rich allows the rich to indulge in a very lax moral code, one that tolerates their foibles while subjecting the poor to life-long punishment for theirs.  Likewise, greater wealth will also enjoy greater political authority, continues Smith’s critique.

To Williams, relieving poverty wouldn’t address the pathologies Smith identified or control badly performing political institutions.  What Smith described as the “natural selfishness and rapacity” of the rich has both individual and societal implications.  Pitted against the morally corrupting effects on individual character that Smith warned of, the interests of the poor barely register on the radar of the rich, Williams said.  The more disproportionate the wealth, the more violently and unjustly the rich will treat the poor, a Smithian observation not generally remarked on, Williams noted.

In other chapters of his book, Williams will examine the issue of economic inequality through the lens of Plato, St. Augustine, Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx.

SSRC Co-sponsoring Hacia un Enfoque Event

The Social Science Research Center is co-sponsoring the event “Hacia un Enfoque/Shifting Focus: Race and Gender in Cuban Film”, which is to take place May 17-18th at the DePaul Art Museum. Faciliatator and curator Karina Paz Ernand will screen one of Cuba’s most prestigious film festivals “La Muestra Joven de Cine Cubano”.  Ernand is a Professor of Audiovisual Studies at La Universidad de la Habana and the Institute of Fine Arts in Cuba.  The film festival is a highly anticipated cinema competition that spotlights the up and coming vanguard of young directors on the island.  The screening will take place on Tuesday May 17, from 6-8 pm at the DePaul Art Museum.

Additionally, there will also be a panel on Wednesday May 18th from 4:30-6:30 pm on the topic: Acercando a Una Miranda: Critical Interventions of Race and Gender in Latin American/Caribbean Media.  The panel will take place in the DePaul Art Museum (at 935 W. Fullerton Ave) and refreshments will be served.


Vehicle Theft in Chicago

Even though vehicle thefts accounted for only 3.9% (10,099) of all crimes in Chicago last year, 62% of the stolen vehicles were recovered with severe damage says the Chicago Police department. Most often the vehicles are stolen by organized rings to be sold on black-markets or shipped overseas, and stripped for parts and resold to various body-shops, or are even resold to unsuspecting customers. In Chicago, 78.9% of the vehicles are stolen from streets, alleys and alongside sidewalks, 8.6% from buildings other than residences, 6.7% from parking lots, 5.5% from residences, and 0.3% from the airports.

The map below shows a hot-spot analysis of the communities that are most and least affected by vehicle theft. The visualization shows statistically significant (statistically significant is the likelihood that a theft is caused by something other than mere random chance) hot-spots in red where a high number of thefts occur and statistically significant cold-spots in blue where few or no thefts occur.

Communities most-prone to vehicle theft (not safe): Uptown (3) in the north, or Austin (25), Avondale (21), Logan Square (22), Hermosa (20), Humboldt Park (23), West Town (24), East/West Garfield Parks (26, 27), Near West Side (28), North Lawndale (29) in the west , or any south central parts of Chicago, namely Chicago Lawn (66), East/West Englewoods (67, 68), Greater Grand Crossing (69), South Shore (43), Auburn Gresham (71) are prone to vehicle thefts.

Communities least-prone to vehicle theft (safe): Edison Park (9), Norwood Park (10), Jefferson Park (11), Forest Glen (12), North Park (13), Dunning (17), Portage Park (15), Lincoln Square (4), North Center (5), Lincoln Park (7) in the north and Bridgeport (60), New City (61), Garfield Ridge (56), Clearing (64), Ashburn (70), West Pullman (53), Morgan Park (75), Beverly (72), Washington Heights (73), East Side (52) and Calumet Heights (48) in the south are least prone to vehicle thefts.
Click through to see the enlarged image.



Techniques Used
The above visualization includes 2 major types of spatial analysis techniques. The vehicle theft locations were geocoded using the addresses and then, Getis-Ord Gi* statistic was used to generate a hot-spot analysis to identify statistically significant clusters.

Implementing visualization techniques in faculty research
The image of the map reflects the different visualization techniques that might be used to effectively convey data or research conclusions to different types of audiences in various disciplines or industries. Visualizations can help identify existing or emerging trends, spot irregularities or obscure patterns, and even address or solve issues.

Ask us how to visualize your research
For help visualizing your own research findings or seeing if your research lends itself to similar techniques including data acquisition and pre-processing of both quantitative and qualitative data, contact Nandhini Gulasingam at