So what? Who cares? At SSRC these are the first two questions we ask when contemplating a new project of our own and when working with faculty scholars on their projects. As academicians we tend to ask these questions often of our students. Perhaps, though, we don’t interrogate our own research undertakings often enough. I know that I don’t. Every now and then (but especially in the dog days of summer), I take time to reflect on the So what?/Who cares? (SW/WC) of my research. It’s always fruitful, if at times more than a little bit painful (as when the answers are “not sure” and “maybe no one besides me,” respectively).
What I realized in the course of my most recent reflection is that SSRC could do a better job of institutionalizing and systematizing the dialectical process of helping our faculty scholar clients ask and respond to the SW/WC questions. To this end we’ve decided to implement at least two new programmatic initiatives. The first is a kind of “brown bag” research presentation for the new millennium. Our plan is to foster and then host a multimedia humanities and/or social science research talk every 4-6 weeks. Ideally, we would feature primarily the work of faculty scholars in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LASS) with occasional appearances by faculty scholars from other universities. Soon we’ll be getting in touch with some of you as we attempt to iron out a schedule. The talks we’d like to organize are those where the research process and/or findings are (1) salient to the everyday lives of ordinary people living in the greater Chicago area, and (2) have a distinct social justice inflection. In essence, we’re looking to sponsor presentations that clearly embody, exemplify, and/or in some way advance DePaul’s Vincentian mission and heritage.
Our second new programmatic initiative relates to the first. Soon we’ll begin working with select faculty to “package” their most recent, social-justice inflected, relevant-to-the-layperson research findings into multiple audiovisual media products and then disseminating the products through a variety of interlaced online venues. The package will include visual/graphical representations of findings accompanied by an audio interview with the faculty scholar. Other elements of a given package will depend upon the scholar, the research, and the nature and degree of relevance to the public sphere.
If YOU would like to be one of the faculty with whom we work on either of these projects—a lunch presentation or a multimedia packaging and distribution effort—then please get in touch with us. As you’ll see in this week’s newsletter (and as has been evident in past newsletters), SSRC staff work at the cutting edge of technology, digital information management and manipulation, and state of the art research methodologies in the humanities and social sciences. Remember, your research is our business. Who cares? We do. That’s a start!
Happy Independence Day!
Greg Scott, PhD
Director, Social Science Research Center