Newsletter  Volume 1| Issue 12
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Contact by email:
Director

Kimberly Hawkins
Admin Assistant

(or send email to emeriti@emory.edu) 

 

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Click on the above link to let us know what you think or send email to emeriti@emory.edu)! 

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Activities

Find other members to get together for shared interests, whether it is forming a book club or a photography club, or getting together to take a hike.  Send email to the following link to contact member who would like the same activity!

 

 

   

Travel
 
If you would like to  
find out about a travel destination or find other EUEC members who would like to travel with you, send an email to:



Courses


If you would like to find other EUEC members interested in taking a MOOC together, an OLLI course together, or possibly teaching together in an OLLI course, click on the following link to send an email:

Upcoming Events

Click on the link below to register for the next Lunch Colloquium on Monday January 26 at 11:30 am.

January 19, 2015
This issue of our newsletter is sent to members and friends of the Emory University Emeritus College (EUEC). I hope the newsletter will help keep you informed about our activities and help you feel connected with our members throughout the U.S.  On the left are links to our website and links to contact either me or the EUEC office.

With best wishes,
Gray

Gray F. Crouse
Director, EUEC
In this Issue:
DirectorMessage from the Director

The spring semester is well underway and there is a lot to report in this issue of the newsletter.   We are announcing the EUEC Award Winners in this issue (see below) and I think that you all will agree that Gretchen Schulz and Jim Keller are very deserving of their awards! We have a very special guest for our next Lunch Colloquium--be sure to make your reservation early as I anticipate that we will have a full house for Marty Fehsenfeld's talk. The generosity of our members has made it possible for us to purchase a sound system for our seminar room and it will be in full use for this colloquium as Marty will have a microphone, we will have a microphone for audience questions, and we will have sound for the documentary film that will be shown. We first used parts of the sound system last week, and everyone felt it made a big difference in hearing the presenter.

 

I know we have very many talented artists in our membership. We have been invited to display EUEC artwork in the Schwartz Center this spring and I hope you will submit some of your work. Details on how to submit are given below. Thanks to Pat Miller, Katherine Mitchell, and David Goldsmith who are helping to make this exhibition possible.

 

We have found out about some of the activities and outside awards of our members (see Faculty Activities, below). Please help us by letting us know about others. We don't have a large information-gathering network and need your help. We are presenting the first part of the report of last semester's Interdisciplinary Seminar on The University in Crisis, and will present more of the report in later issues. Thanks to all of the participants for sharing their findings with us. Finally, you can see what is happening in the University Faculty Council and Senate; you can find out more or provide feedback by talking with Jim Keller, our voting representative to those bodies.  Also please note that emeritus faculty from the Arts and Sciences are eligible to apply for a Heilbrun emeritus fellowship (see details below). 


I am very grateful to Herb Benario, Gretchen Schulz, and John Bugge for help with proofing and editing.  

   

LCTopJanuary 26 Lunch Colloquium
 

     

All of our Lunch Colloquiums have been special.  Even so, our next Colloquium promises to be extra special, for we will host Martha Fehsenfeld, the founding editor of the Beckett Project, who is visiting at Emory for several days.  This will be a unique opportunity to hear about Samuel Beckett from his friend and editor.

 

   

The Luce Center, Room 130, 11:30-1:00

 

 For more information, click here  

 

HDL1January 5 LUNCH COLLOQUIUM   

 

Alternative Futures: The Pew Report on "Digital Life in 2025" 

EUEC member Selden Deemer spoke about the recent Pew Report on how our uses of the Internet may evolve in the next ten years.  As you can read below, there were both hopeful and not-so-hopeful theses. 

 

 Click here to read about the Colloquium 

 

FA1Faculty Activities

 

There are more EUEC faculty activities to report.

 

Click here to read the latest

 

WinTop
EUEC Awards

This year's winners of the Distinguished Faculty and Service awards have been announced.

Faculty Governance

Jim Keller is the voting representative of EUEC to both the Faculty Council and University Senate.  You can read short summaries of the latest meetings of each by clicking  Council Concerns and Senate Summary.  Of particular note from the Senate:  "The University Senate has approved a motion to take an advisory role in making recommendations to Emory's President and Board of Trustees when it considers financial divestment from companies engaged in 'morally evil activities' or alternative actions with companies engaged in activities that cause social harm."  

 

 

UiCTopThe University in Crisis


The EUEC members who participated in last fall's Interdisciplinary Seminar on the topic of The University in Crisis have compiled a report of their discussions.  We will be featuring parts of that report in this and future issues of the newsletter. 

EUEC Visual Arts at the Schwartz Center




The EUEC has been invited to display the artwork of its members in the Chace Gallery of the Schwartz Center this spring.  A committee of EUEC members (Pat Miller, Katherine Mitchell, and David Goldsmith) is helping to organize this exhibit.  There are many very talented artists of all types in EUEC and we hope that you will want to participate in this exhibit.  Below is the committee call for submission:

Call for Submission

 

The 2015 Emory University Emeritus College Art Exhibit will showcase works of art created by members of the Emory Emeritus College community. It is a juried exhibit that will hang in the Chace Gallery of the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts beginning on Sunday, March 8 with a reception from 3 to 5 PM.

 

Artwork for Exhibition

 

Art works for the exhibition must be ready for hanging on the walls of the Chace Lobby and must be framed (if appropriate).  There are no facilities for permanent exhibition of other types of artwork, such as sculpture or carvings. However, for the reception, we will have spaces in which works that do not hang can be displayed and we encourage submission of any type of work that could be displayed during the reception.  Jpeg photographs of such artwork should be submitted by the January 30 deadline.

 

Guidelines for Participation

 

Entry deadline: Friday, January 30 by 5 PM

Artists may submit jpegs of up to three works of art in any medium. No single work may exceed 34 inches in any direction.

The application should include:

            1-A separate jpeg (plus any detail shots) for each work submitted

            2-Documentation list of images: Name. Title. Date. Media. Dimensions.

            3-Contact information: Name, address, phone numbers, email address.  

 

Applications may be submitted online to emeriti@emory.edu or by a packet delivered to the Emeritus College Offices at The Luce Center, 825 Houston Mill Road NE #232, Atlanta, GA 30329.  If you are willing to ship your artwork, EUEC members who live anywhere can participate in this exhibition!  For initial judging, do not send original works of art.

  

Selection and Delivery:

 

The committee will notify artists about the inclusion of their work in the exhibit by February 10, 2015.

 

Works accepted for the exhibit must be delivered to the Emeritus College Offices at The Luce Center by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 20. Work must arrive ready for presentation, framed, and ready to hang if suitable. Installation instructions, if needed, should be included.  You may have your work shipped to the office if you prefer not to deliver it yourself.

 

Heilbrun Distinguished Emeritus Fellowship 

From Dean Robin Forman:

"It gives me great pleasure to announce the 15th year of competition for the Heilbrun Distinguished Emeritus Fellowship.  Named in honor of our colleague Alfred B. Heilbrun, Jr., Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology, and funded through an extraordinarily generous gift from his family, this wonderful Fellowship offers an opportunity for heightened engagement in research and scholarship, and plays an important role in supporting a vibrant Emeritus community."

  

These fellowships are only for Arts and Sciences Emeritus Faculty, but for those of you who qualify, these fellowships of $10,000 each for a twelve-month term are a wonderful opportunity for research funding.  The full announcement and call for application can be found by clicking here.  

  

WinBotEUEC Awards for this year

It is with great pleasure that I can announce the awards for Distinguished Faculty and Distinguished Service for this year. Gretchen Schulz has been awarded the EUEC Distinguished Faculty Award and James Keller has been awarded the EUEC Distinguished Service Award. I want to think the Awards and Honors Committee, chaired by Helen O'Shea, for their great work in making these selections.

 

Gretchen Schulz was nominated by both Herb Benario and John Bugge!

 

 

Herb writes:

 

...But what has struck me over many years is the impact she has had off campus, in the towns of Oxford and Covington, on The New American Shakespeare Tavern in downtown Atlanta, opposite Emory Hospital Midtown, where she has been in charge of education and much else for some twenty-five years, and on the Emeritus College, with which she became heavily engaged even before she joined our ranks of emeriti.

 

She can be described as "a bundle of energy," without whom our organization would be quite different. I am continually astonished that she accomplishes so much while continuing to reside in Oxford, where the good will and friendships developed over these more than thirty years continue to have enormous impact on local activities and cultural offerings. She has recently been the leading figure in the establishment of the Oxford College Community Classroom (OCCC). For these reasons, and others only implied, Gretchen Schulz will be a worthy addition to the already lustrous roster of those recognized as Distinguished Emeriti.

 

John adds:

 

One has to say, too, that her work on behalf the Emeritus College since her retirement speaks for itself. Now a member of the Executive Committee, she has for the past two years been the dynamic leader of the subcommittee that has scheduled and administered the seminally important (and, because of her efforts, extremely successful), Luncheon Colloquium Series of presentations by speakers from across the University and from the community as well.

 

She recently received a Bianchi Excellence Fund Award, which permitted her to travel to Michigan State University in October of this year. MSU was hosting the annual meeting of the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, where she delivered two papers, one of which touted our own Emeritus College as a prime example of an academic agency promoting interdisciplinary intellectual discourse among faculty. During the same visit, she was interviewed by Professor Roger Baldwin of the MSU Department of Education, who is doing research on emeritus colleges as an intriguing solution to issues that affect academic retirement. In effect, Gretchen was carrying the banner of our Emeritus College into a national arena and representing us well.

 

Certainly all of us have benefited from the work that Gretchen and her scheduling partners, Sidney Perkowitz and Al Padwa, have put into making our Lunch Colloquiums such a great success. I am personally extremely grateful for the help she has given in writing for, and helping to edit, this newsletter.

 

James Keller was nominated by Pat Douglass.


 

Pat writes:

 

Jim has served on many Emory University committees including the Winship Cancer Center Clinical Research committee, the Emory University Institutional Review Board which he chaired, and the Woodruff Heath Science Center Research Advisory Committee. However, as the EUEC representative to the University Faculty Council and the University Senate, he has been most influential in keeping EUEC members informed of the transition from University provided healthcare coverage to individual coverage.

 

At his own initiative, he researched Medicare regulations, clarified them to assist individuals in decision making and answered questions. He and Dr. Sid Stein facilitated two seminars for emeritus faculty to encourage further clarification on the transition. Over 50 attendees left the sessions with a better understanding of the decisions that must be made concerning healthcare. Jim contributed hours of his professional and personal time as the liaison between EUEC and The University Senate. His diligence kept EUEC members aware of the University's decisions on retiree healthcare and made sure their concerns were heard.

 

Many of you have seen Jim in action in various discussion of the healthcare transition. However, most of you are probably not aware of how much work behind the scenes Jim has put into helping write the documents that EUEC has provided members on making healthcare choices or the many hours he has spent one-on-one with individual EUEC members struggling with making various decisions on healthcare. He is now working on documents that we can use to help retiring staff, as well as faculty, make decisions on healthcare. As President of the University Senate and Chair of the Faculty Council, I got to see firsthand Jim's full participation in those bodies, and not just on healthcare issues.

 

We are fortunate to have both Gretchen and Jim as members!

 

--Gray Crouse

 

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UiCBotThe University in Crisis, Part I



SUMMARY REPORT

 

Emory University Emeritus College

Interdisciplinary Seminar:

 

The University in Crisis

Fall, 2014

 

January 8, 2015

 

 

Introduction

 

This document presents a summary of the findings of an Interdisciplinary Seminar on the general topic of "The University in Crisis," that took place in the Emory University Emeritus College during the fall semester of 2014 from September through early December. The topic was chosen as a way of allowing participants to focus on and deepen their understanding of various critical challenges facing American higher education in general, and Emory University in particular, in the twenty-first century.

 

This seminar was the third to have taken place in calendar 2014 and built on the success of the two previous seminars in the spring semester; these latter focused on the general subjects of "The Nature of Evidence" and "Individual v. Community." All three seminars have been based on the model of the so-called Luce Seminars directed by Professor James Gustafson of the Emory Graduate Department of Religion during the 1980s. Each of these saw faculty from every discipline represented at Emory involved in a rigorous and searching semester-long investigation of a single general topic. It is hoped that the EUEC interdisciplinary seminars, similarly comprising faculty and staff from every quarter of the University, will over time merit favorable comparison with those, for they have become an integral part of the mission of the Emeritus College - which is to provide opportunities for continued intellectual, creative, and collegial engagement of the emeritus faculty by facilitating opportunities for research and interdisciplinary education.

 

Twelve members of the EUEC agreed to enroll in "The University in Crisis" (though one found he could not attend our meetings because of persistent calendar conflicts). Because the EUEC is by nature interdisciplinary, there was no difficulty in acquiring a sufficient diversity of institutional and disciplinary points of view. Represented around the seminar table were the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing, along with the Emory Libraries, the College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, and Agnes Scott College. Professional disciplines ran the gamut from pediatrics to English literature, the fine arts to dermatology, French language and literature to information technology, German studies to the fine arts, and nursing education to surgery.

 

The seminar met every Tuesday afternoon commencing on September 9, 2014, in the first-floor conference room at the Luce Center, headquarters of the EUEC. Each meeting began at 1:00 p.m. and lasted about two and a half hours.

 

Participants helped compile a preliminary bibliography of book-length works and scholarly articles on contemporary American higher education, and then were asked to choose a single topic under the generalized rubric "major challenges or crises facing the university," and to research it sufficiently to be able to assign from their own research about a hundred pages of pertinent reading material that defined, illustrated, and analyzed the particular challenge in question.   Members made their assigned readings available to the organizer of the seminar, who arranged to have them posted on a University Blackboard site created for the purpose. Members of the seminar were also able to find other course materials on the site - the course syllabus, announcements, and so on - and to post their own comments on the assigned readings, plus material from newspapers and magazines that they had found pertinent, in a sort of web log, or "blog."  Each participant took responsibility for making a short, formal presentation of his or her topic at the seminar meeting devoted to it, then invited discussion, which was always vigorous and occasionally contentious.

 

For a list of the participants in the seminar and an abbreviated syllabus of topics and readings, please click here.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Purpose

 

Many of us began with a casual and perhaps somewhat less than well informed understanding of the crises higher education was facing in the present, in some cases more than a few years after some of us had retired from full-time employment in the University. We determined to learn as much as possible about the challenges facing the university and Emory especially, the institution to which we had given so many years of service. At the conclusion of the seminar the members found themselves in agreement that it would be appropriate to inform a number of different parties of our conclusions.

 

We were prompted to this by 1) the realization that through the process of educating each other, we have all succeeded in learning a lot about the situation the contemporary university finds itself in, and by 2) the conviction that a summation of the informed opinions of a group of senior scholars - a sort of "council of elders," with over four centuries' collective experience in higher education - could prove useful to Emory as it faces many of the same challenges we debated. Buoyed by the knowledge that the Faculty Council has recently empowered a task force to study ways of enhancing faculty participation in university governance, we see our report and its tentative recommendations as exemplifying just this higher level of faculty input into the conversation about the directions of future academic policy.


In retrospect we see the collection of our eleven discrete seminar topics resolving themselves into four broad areas of thematic concern posing serious challenges to American higher education as we have known it. These areas of concern are the following; each is treated in some detail below:

 

  1) The university's instructional mission as potentially disrupted by the revolution in information technology.

 

   2) Traditional liberal arts education, seen to be under threat from a number of different quarters.

 

   3) The university's shift away from its traditional responsibilities to students.

 

   4) The diminished role of faculty within the dynamics of university policy-making and administration.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

 

PART 1:

 

THE UNIVERSITY'S INSTRUCTIONAL ROLE UNDER THREAT FROM THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION

 

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs

 

MOOCs could prove to be, at best, a source of "creative disruption" of the university's traditional systems of delivering course content to students. Holly York, Senior Lecturer Emerita of French, led a fascinating seminar on such courses, which allowed participants to understand the far-reaching implications of any potential large-scale shift to online learning. As a veteran participant in a number of MOOCs herself since her retirement, she was able to speak authoritatively about their advantages and drawbacks, albeit, of course, from the unusual perspective of someone with decades of teaching experience in her own classroom. And she was well informed about Emory's own experiments with online courses under the aegis of Coursera.

 

The largest part of Professor York's contribution was the rich and varied assortment of essays and book chapters on this most exciting and controversial development which she assigned for the rest of us to read. The discussion that these sources provoked yielded a number of conclusions that were, each in its own way, double-sided, both positive and negative:

 

  • On the one hand, it was obvious that MOOCs have the potential to make high-level learning democratically accessible to all, and essentially free. On the other hand, if they prove successful (widely subscribed to and widely accredited by agencies outside the academy), they threaten the university's monopoly on the dissemination of knowledge, and eventually the university's monopoly on credentialing that knowledge.

 

  • While MOOCs seem to work well for students as "STEM" courses (in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), there is widespread skepticism about their value in the areas of the social sciences and humanities. In the latter, it was alleged, the human presence in a communal learning environment, the hallmark of a liberal arts education, could be compromised or even sacrificed to cost-saving.   Andrew Delbanco of Columbia University further believes that if widely adopted, MOOCs would make all faculty vulnerable, but especially those in humanities disciplines.

 

  • Existing MOOCs all seem to have sprung from so-called Research I universities (Stanford, Harvard, MIT), whose principal function is the creation of knowledge and only secondarily, one might argue, the dissemination of it.   And while MOOCs on balance have seemed to pay less heed to the psychodynamics of learning, their very disruptiveness gives the academy a golden chance to probe deeply into fundamental questions of how people learn best and thus how the university should go about rethinking its pedagogical function. As Mitchell Waldrop writes: "Universities think of themselves as being in the university business, not the learning business." That is, they mostly take their existing structures and practices as given, and too often look to MOOCs and other online technologies only as a way to do things more cheaply.

 

  • One fundamental question about learning is whether at some level it requires a human community of learners.   Emerson once wrote that, "Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul." The jury is out on whether MOOCs can provide this kind of stimulus if the model is the individual student sitting in front of a computer screen and only connected to a course electronically.

 

  • One serious concern of seminar members was that MOOCs could foster inequality in the academy both by creating a class of "Superstar Profs" among faculty, undermining the ideal of the university as a community of scholars, and by similarly stratifying the student body, with MOOCs used for students without the means to attend a traditional residential college, and with face-to-face human instruction reserved for a wealthier elite.

York wrote in conclusion that, "Since universities no longer have a monopoly on content, their challenge is to make students more effective learners than they could be on their own. Massive Open Online Courses are among the potential tools for achieving this. Successful models are those that create a sense of place and presence for the development of a vibrant interactive intellectual community.  They require sufficient financial resources to support their innovative pedagogical techniques; a 'canned' course that is simply set in motion with no human instructional presence offers little in the way of learner community, but if properly conceived and maintained, a MOOC creates space for lifelong learning."

 

The seminar members agreed that Emory needs urgently to establish a policy for integrating the technology of the massive open online course into its existing curriculum, one that complements and enhances the in-class learning experience of students at all levels.

 

To be continued...

 

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LCBotAccompanying Beckett: Memories of a Great Writer from His Chosen Editor

  

Lunch Colloquium, January 26   


MARTHA FEHSENFELD, Editor, Letters of Samuel Beckett

  

Samuel Beckett was widely seen as a reticent author who shied away from the public spotlight, but his private life as reflected through his correspondence reveals a rich network of friendships and associations with some of the most fascinating and significant figures of his time. In 1985, Beckett entrusted research scholar Martha (Marty) Fehsenfeld with editing and publishing his collection of letters, an extraordinary request from a man who so valued his privacy. For use by the project, Beckett also gave Marty some letters he had kept, which she later donated to the Manuscript and Rare Book Library (MARBL) at Emory. At this Lunch Colloquium, you will be among the first to view a new documentary about the Fehsenfeld archival collection, and to hear Marty talk about knowing Beckett. Through Marty's personal and vivid anecdotes, you will get to know Samuel Beckett, the man and writer, and how the Laney Graduate School has integrated the research and editing of The Letters of Samuel Beckett into a laboratory for Humanities research.  

 

From  the Beckett Project website:

 

Martha Dow Fehsenfeld studied at  Bennington College (B.A.), the University of North Carolina (M.A.) and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (doctoral work). She was authorized by Samuel Beckett to edit his correspondence in 1985.  

 

Martha Fehsenfeld is the author of Beckett in the Theatre, with Dougald McMillan (1988; rpt.1990). She observed and recorded Beckett's direction of Footfalls, Happy Days, Endgame, and supervision of Waiting for Godot, was production assistant for Endgame directed by Samuel Beckett, assistant to the director Alan Schneider for the world premiere of Ohio Impromptu, and has performed in Beckett's Happy Days, Footfalls, and Rockaby -- the later directed by Walter Asmus.  Originator of The Beckett Festival of Radio Plays broadcast on PBS and CBS, she served as Project Director for the first production All That Fall (funded by the NEH and the NEA, and awarded the Gold Medal at the International Radio Festival of New York, l987). She has served on the Advisory Committee of The Beckett International Foundation, University of Reading, England, and the board of the Alan Schneider Memorial Fund Theatre Communications Group, New York.
 
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FA2Faculty Activities



Dana Greene

 

  

CHOICE has listed "Denise Levertov: A Poet's Life" (Univ. of Illinois Press) by EUEC member Dana Greene as one of its outstanding academic titles for 2014.  Research for this book was supported by a Heilbrun Fellowship.  

 

Click here to watch a video of Dana being interviewed by PBS at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC about Denise Levertov.

   

  

 

 

 

 

Al Padwa


 

EUEC Member Albert Padwa has been selected as a 2014 Senior Scientist Mentor by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.  The topic of his research is Tandem Cyclopropanation / Insertion /
Cycloaddition Sequence of Differently
Substituted Bis-Diazo Compounds.

 

Padwa is emeritus professor of chemistry in Emory College.

 

The award provides a $20,000 grant to emeritus faculty in the chemical sciences in support of undergraduate research to be conducted under their guidance.

 

 

 

 

 

 Gretchen Schulz 

 

 

Lois Reitzes of WABE had a two-part interview with Jeff Watkins, Artistic Director of the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern, about the Tavern's founding and its current programming.  Access to the interviews can be found by clicking here.  In the first interview, EUEC member Gretchen Schulz is praised for her many contributions to the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern.  

 

 

 

Once again this year, Gretchen will be leading an EUEC "field trip" in early May to the Tavern for a production of The Merchant of Venice.  There were over 40 of us who went last year, so you will want to reserve the date, May 3, for this year's production!  The Lunch Colloquium on Monday, May 4, will be devoted to discussion of the play and the production.  

 

 

Gene Bianchi

 


 

EUEC member Gene Bianchi published his new book of poetry,  

Chewing Down My Barn: Poem from the Carpenter Bees, on December 1, 2014.  From the back cover:

 

"Like a latter-day Montaigne, who was himself confessedly the matter of his book, Gene Bianchi crafts poetic 'essais' from closely observed life-moments, intricate meditations that, taken together, form a searching yet oddly genial 'ars moriendi.' With learning drawn from several religious traditions, Bianchi gives us both exciting verbal flights and the stillness at the heart of meaning."- John Bugge, Emeritus Professor of English, Emory University

 

"In this collection, we accompany the poet on his 'long journey to tenderness' along with Christian mystics, saints, Tao masters, and notably, his Siamese cat Max-'master of the God who naps.' With uncommon wisdom, Bianchi observes lessons in wildlife around his Georgia home on the Oconee River, and he gives equal attention to the humanity of those he encounters at Starbuck's and McDonald's. These are pithy, thoughtful poems, filled with compassion, self-insight, and frequent saltings of humor." - Clela Reed, poet, author of Dancing on the Rim and The Hero of the Revolution Serves Us Tea.

 

 

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 HDL2 

January 5 LUNCH COLLOQUIUM  

 


 

 

Alternative Futures: The Pew Report on "Digital Life in 2025"

 

On Monday, January 12, some thirty members of the Emeritus College turned out for the first Lunch Colloquium of 2015 to hear Selden Deemer, Libraries Systems Administrator Emeritus, discuss "Alternative Futures: The Pew Report on 'Digital Life in 2025.'" The Report, released by the Pew Research Center in March of 2014, presented the results of a study the PRC did in collaboration with Elon University in which they invited 2558 acknowledged experts in technology (from around the world) to speculate about "the most significant overall impacts of our uses of the Internet" on social, economic, and political life as it evolves over the next ten years. As Selden explained, they grouped responses from the participants into fifteen theses, of which they considered eight "hopeful" and six "concerned." The final set of comments were considered "neutral, though offering sensible advice." Of course, in each case, some of the participants' comments (like some of those we at the Lunch Colloquium made in the course of our discussion) ran counter to those of the majority, seeing negative outcomes where others saw positive ones and vice versa. But after all, to paraphrase Casey Stengel, "mak[ing[ predictions, especially about the future," is a very tricky business indeed.

 

The Eight Positive Theses:

 

Thesis 1: Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.

 

Thesis 2: The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity that fosters more planetary relationships and less ignorance.

 

Thesis 3: The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.

 

Thesis 4: Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially tied to personal health.

 

Thesis 5: Political awareness and action will be facilitated and more peaceful change and public uprisings like the Arab Spring will emerge.

 

Thesis 6: The spread of the "√úbernet" will diminish the meaning of borders, and new "nations" of those with shared interests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control.

 

Thesis 7: The Internet will become "the Internets" as access, systems, and principles
are renegotiated.

 

Thesis 8: An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers.

 

The Six Negative Theses:

 

Thesis 9: Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.  

 

Thesis 10: Abuses and abusers will "evolve and scale." Human nature isn't changing; laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others.

 

Thesis 11: Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power-and at times succeed-as they invoke security and cultural norms.

 

Thesis 12: People will continue-sometimes grudgingly-to make tradeoffs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upscale will enjoy.

 

Thesis 13: Humans and their current organizations may not respond quickly enough to challenges presented by complex networks.

 

Thesis 14: Most people are not yet noticing the profound changes today's communications networks are already bringing about; these networks will be even more disruptive in the future.

 

The Neutral Advice for the Future:

 

Thesis 15: Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

 

And in support of this final thesis, the Report quotes Sonigitu Asibong Ekpe, a consultant with the AgeCare Foundation:

 

The most significant impact of the Internet is getting us to imagine different paths that the future may take. These paths help us to be better prepared for long-term contingencies; by identifying key indicators, and amplifying signals of change, they help us ensure that our decisions along the way are flexible enough to accommodate change... Yet much remains uncertain: from who will have access, how, when, and at what price to the Internet's role as an engine for innovation and the creation of commercial, social, and human value. ...[T]he interplay of decisions that we make today and in the near future will determine the evolution of the Internet and the shape it takes by 2025, in both intended and unintended ways. Regardless of how the future unfolds, the Internet will evolve in ways we can only begin to imagine. By allowing ourselves to explore and rehearse divergent and plausible futures for the Internet, not only do we prepare for any future, we can also help shape it for the better.

 

We of the Emeritus College thank Selden Deemer for helping us do exactly what Ekbe recommends, "explor[ing] and rehears[ing] divergent and plausible futures for the Internet," thereby "prepar[ing] for any future" and "help[ing] to shape it for the better." If we're not around in 2025 to benefit from such betterment ourselves, our children and grandchildren are likely to be. Perhaps they'll have occasion to review the Pew Report on "Digital Life in 2025" and remark on what it got right-and what it got dreadfully (or wonderfully) wrong. And then make some predictions of their own . . .

 

--Gretchen Schulz

 

 

Emory University Emeritus College

The Luce Center
825 Houston Mill Road NE #206

Atlanta, GA 30329

   




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Emory University Emeritus College | The Luce Center | 825 Houston Mill Road NE #206 | Atlanta | GA | 30329