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Abigail de Kosnik receives Berkeley Collegium Grant

Professor Abigail De Kosnik, BCNM and Theatre, Dance and Performance assistant professor, received a grant from the Berkeley Collegium for her course “Making Sense of Cultural Data.” Prof. De Kosnik received the Collegium’s grant, Narrowing the Gap Between Teaching and Research.

The Berkeley Collegium was set up by Chancellor Birgeneau in 2012, with the mission of fostering innovation and excellence in undergraduate teaching at UC Berkeley. The Collegium provides exceptional faculty members with resources for initiatives to elevate teaching, especially at the undergraduate level, across the campus. The Collegium leads the identification and development of new ideas, supports their implementation, and assesses their success. Among various other projects, the Collegium has been working to articulate and promote a broad vision to narrow the gap between teaching and research on the Berkeley campus. The long-term aim of this ongoing project is to engender and sustain a cultural shift on campus, whereby faculty and students alike come to view undergraduate engagement in research as a fundamental, desirable, and assumed element of every undergraduate’s Berkeley experience.

The Narrowing the Gap funding program was established in 2015 to support projects aimed at narrowing the gap between teaching and research at Berkeley. Detailed information about the aims of this program, and instructions on how to apply for the 2016-2018 funding cycle can be found here.

Previous grant recipients have been Nicholas Swanson-Hysell (Department of Earth and Planetary Science), Robert Rhew (Department of Geography), Patricia Steenland (College Writing Programs), and Oscar Dubon (College of Engineering).

Prof. De Kosnik describes her goal for “Making Sense of Cultural Data” as to introduce students to leading-edge tools, and to train them in the critical digital humanities methods that they will need to “make sense” of textual, audiovisual, and quantitative data. Students will learn how to craft high-level humanities queries about cultural and social texts, how to design specific and effective queries for large databases of words and images, and how to link those two lines of investigation. Students will collaborate with one another and with tool developers (invited as guests to the seminar) to conduct their data analyses and produce visualizations. The student teams will then co-author article-length papers that they may submit for conference presentations and/or journal publications. With a Graduate Student Instructor (who will be supported by the Berkeley Center of New Media), Prof. De Kosnik will teach a curriculum that orients students to relevant humanities and data methods generally, and then will closely advise and guide student teams’ research projects, and facilitate their cooperation with tool developers.

Undergraduates who take this course will have the chance, not just to master established research methods, but to pioneer new ones. They will not only read research authored by established scholars, but will conduct and author their own innovative research in a wide range of fields, including film, television, and new media studies, gender studies, and ethnic studies.

You can read more about the Berkeley Collegium here.

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