2011 NEH Summer Institute - Distinguished Lecture Series

Free & Open to the Public

Eleven nights.  Eleven distinguished lectures.  All talks are free and open to the public, and will be held in the Rowe Arts Building, lecture hall room 130, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, June 1st through June 15th.  

This Distinguished Lecture Series is being held in conjunction with UNC Charlotte's 2011 Digital Humanities Institute: a two-and-a-half week workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and hosted by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Complex Systems Institute, and the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics.

June 1st (Wednesday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Johanna Drucker
Information Studies
Humanistic Approaches to Digital Work.  How can we introduce humanistic values into digital platforms and protocols?  What are some speculative approaches that might perform some of these interventions?  This talk will introduce the concepts of temporal modeling, interpretative cartography, subjective metadata, augmented editions, and the creation of capta instead of data.  The overarching goal is to imagine humanistic approaches that combine complex systems and emergent capabilities in dialogue with our machine partners ahead.

June 3rd (Friday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Deborah Bosley
UNC Charlotte

Using Plain Language to Translate Complex Information.   This talk will describe research on the use of plain language to help non-experts understand information from financial statements to insurance policies to federal/state regulations to health information.  Drawing from psychology, lingusitics, behavioral economics, cognitive science, management, marketing, new and social media, and public policy research, attendees will learn how the study of language is inherently interdisiplinary.  In addition, the presenter will discuss the importance of scientists and technologist learning to use plain language when discussing their work with the public.

June 7th (Tuesday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Tim Tangherlini
Language and Culture

Social Network Analysis in Icelandic Literature.  This presentation will explore the application of Social Network Analysis to a thirteenth century Icelandic saga.  These sagas are well-known for their very large cast of characters, and are marked by violence, feud, and blood-vengeance.  Thus, they offer a window onto late medieval conceptions of conflict and conflict resolution.   This talk will present some preliminary results in constructing a series of network graphs describing interaction in the saga, and will explore related topics such as the applicability of ego-nets to the study of individual social perspective, and the tension between Structured Balance theory and Status theory as competing models for deciding whom to friend and whom to unfriend (with extreme prejudice).

June 9th (Thursday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Melanie Mitchell
Computer Science
Portland State University

Complexity: A Guided Tour.  As science probes the nature of life, society, and technology ever more closely, what it finds there is complexity.  The sophisticated group behavior of social insects, the unexpected intricacies of the genome, the dynamics of population growth, and the self-organized structure of the World Wide Web—these are just a few examples of complex systems that still elude scientific understanding.  Comprehending such systems seems to require a wholly new approach, one that re-maps long-standing disciplinary boundaries.  In this lecture, Dr. Mitchell will describe how the interdisciplinary field of complex systems science is discovering common principles underlying different natural and technological systems, and will discuss the implications of these common principles for science and society.

June 14th (Tuesday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

UNC Charlotte

It’s Not That Simple: Re-establishing the Seamless Intellectual Fabric in the 21st Century.  George Cowan once famously suggested that at one point in human history, “the whole intellectual fabric was seamless.”  His great hope for complexity science is that it one day will help restore that seamless fabric.  This talk will focus primarily on the relationship between complexity and the humanities.  Beginning with a discussion of the historical divide between the natural sciences and the humanities and moving into recent developments like the digital humanities, Professor Youngman will outline a case for the importance of collaborative, interdisciplinary research from the standpoint of a twenty-first century humanities researcher.  He will offer an overview of how some principles of complexity science find their roots in the humanities and then provide some thoughts on feasibility of restoring Cowan’s seamless intellectual fabric.

June 15th (Wednesday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Liz Johnson
Public Policy
UNC Charlotte

Hybrid Modeling of Social Phenomena.  Given the challenges of modeling multi-level social phenomena, do hybrids hold the key to unlocking social complexity dynamics?  Whereby hybrid modeling is used in engineering industrial processes, this research uses world cup soccer tournament simulations to successfully demonstrate application in social domains.  Hybrids offer a means to explore complexity with evolutionary learning of players, corresponding emotional reactions of spectators, and other social interactions.  The combination of agent-based modeling and cellular automatons offers unique ways to model hybrids not only in world cup soccer, but other social phenomena as well.
June 2nd (Thursday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Katy Börner
Information Science
Indiana University

Models of Science.  A model is a systematic description of an object or phenomenon, one that not only shares important characteristics with its real-world counterpart, but also supports its detailed investigation.  They are commonly represented as a system of postulates, data, and inferences, used in the construction of scientific theories.  Models of science, therefore, aim to capture the structure and dynamics of science itself.  This talk provides a general introduction to the modeling of science together with a discussion of different model types, basic definitions, and an overview and comparison of major predictive models of science.

June 6th (Monday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Paul Humphreys
Philosophy of Science
University of Virginia

Computational Modeling: Representation and Epistemology.  Computer simulations require us to think differently about representations than do traditional scientific models.  Simulations are dynamic, extremely powerful, not fully transparent, and often hard for humans to interpret.  Using an agent based model as an example, this lecture will explore some of the benefits and dangers of computer simulations.  Broader issues relating to the epistemology of computer modeling and future developments in science will be discussed, as well as how differences between the research styles of humanities scholars and scientists affects collaborative work.

June 8th (Wednesday)
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Boyd Davis
UNC Charlotte

Alzheimer Talk: Empirical Research.  Dr. Davis' work on language used by people with Alzheimer's focuses on what they retain, not what they lose.  In this presentation she will report on how research on naturally-occurring talk from a digital audio/video corpus of Alzheimer's speech, collected over twelve years, leads to developing multimedia and web-based training for caregivers, which leads in turn to further research on Alzheimer talk.   Current work includes the study of how certain question types can disturb gait as well as cognition, and the analysis of which kinds of narrative components are retained as the disease progresses.

June 11th (Saturday)
Time TBA

Matthias Scheutz
Cognitive and Computer Science
Tufts University

Computational Models: An Illustrative Example.  This presentation will begin with a brief review of the concept of  a (computational) model, and then demonstrate the utility of using high performance computing resources for exploring computational models and model parameter spaces.  This talk will cover all steps involved in the modeling process using a simple neural network that has been developed for testing the difference between spatial vs. ideomotor compatibility processes in humans.

June 13th (Monday)     
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Eric Sauda & Chris Beorkrem
Architecture, UNC Charlotte


Digital Arts.  Eric Sauda
is a registered architect who specializes in the use of digital and computational technologies and their transformative effect on architecture.  He is director of the Digital Arts Center at the College of Arts and Architecture.  His research has focused on the areas of urban visualization and interactive architecture.  He works closely with the Urban Visualization Research Group, the Charlotte Visualization Center at the College of computing and Informatics, the ComputingInPlace Research Group and the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology.  

Assistant Professor Chris Beorkrem teaches studios, seminars and workshops in digital design and fabrication at the School of Architecture.   He is Co- coordinator of the Digital Arts Center in the College, which focuses on research in both the physical and analytical realms of digital design.  Chris practices in the Charlotte area with Happy Box Architecture, where he is engaged in design projects at a variety of scales.  Through his teaching, practice, and research he is in search of the balance between the legibility of form and the efficient use of time, machines and material.

For questions, comments, directions or maps, please contact Rich Preville: richardpreville@uncc.edu.