2/24/2020 The Data Environment and the New University

Feb 24, 12 pm – 3 pm
Mergenthaler Hall 426

We are the middle of a big data revolution that examines all aspects of our behavior to elicit knowledge about us as individuals, consumers, and students. Our key strokes are analyzed, with the Microsoft Corporation sending us weekly analytics promising to help us discover our habits, build stronger networks, secure more uninterrupted time for our work. Our iPhones report to us how much screen time we have had. How is this outpouring of information being used by universities to track students, departments, faculty and other employees? What does university related data have to say about us, what we are learning, how we are putting it to use, how productive we are, how much in debt we are in and so on? What are some of the methodological, ethical and political questions raised by university usage of such data? Come to the first of such conversations to learn about the data environment in the new university. Hear experts speak at a roundtable. Engage them in conversation. Give us your input into what other topics you would like to hear discussed and debated.

Organizers: Naveeda Khan (JHU) & Shreeharsh Kelkar (UC Berkeley)
Chair: Shane Butler (JHU) & Naveeda Khan (JHU)

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm Lunch (Mergenthaler 439)
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm Presentations (Mergenthaler 426)
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Discussion


  • Shreeharsh Kelkar (UC Berkeley), Reinventing Educational Knowledge Production: The Case of Data Science in MOOCs
  • Brian Cameron (Ryerson University), Bibliometrics: Meaning and Perspective
  • Nicholas Hartlep (Berea College), How Can I Share It? Do(I)? How Social Media and Metadata Reinforces Reputation
  • Veena Das (JHU), Data Audits of University-Sponsored Legislation
  • Ian Lowrie (Portland State University), Audit as a Technique of Freedom: Data and Reform in the Russian Academy
  • Chris Morphew (JHU), On the Efficacy of Rankings

Participant Bios:

Shreeharsh Kelkar is a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley. He studies, using historical and ethnographic methods, how the emerging computing infrastructures of humans, algorithms, and data are transforming work and expertise. His in-progress manuscript, Reinventing Expertise: Technology Reformers and the Platformization of Higher Education, describes how technology reformers are drawing on norms from Silicon Valley to reconfigure what it means to be an educational expert. You can read more about his work at http://shreeharshkelkar.net.

Brian Cameron is currently Head of Library Collection Services at Ryerson University in Toronto. He oversees the Collections Department, Ryeron’s Institutional Repository, the University’s Open Journal System, and is engaged with all aspects of scholarly communication, speaking regularly about open access, scholarly publishing, bibliometrics, predatory publishers, persistent author identifiers, and related issues. Prior to coming to Ryerson, Brian held a position as an Information Specialist at the University Health Network, a group of teaching hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto. He has degrees from the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Toronto.

Nicholas D. Hartlep is the Robert Charles Billings Chair in Education at Berea College where he chairs the Department of Education Studies. Dr. Hartlep’s most recent book is Racial Battle Fatigue in Faculty: Perspectives and Lessons from Higher Education (2020, Routledge). His book The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education, with Lucille L. T. Eckrich and Brandon O. Hensley (2017, Routledge) was named an Outstanding Book by the Society of Professors of Education and nominated for a Grawemeyer in Education Award. He is currently writing What Can Be Learned from Work Colleges? An Education That Works (SUNY Press). Follow his work on Twitter at @nhartlep or at his website, http://www.nicholashartlep.com.

Ian Lowrie is an anthropologist who studies data scientific expertise and how people use technology in complex organizational environments. His research has mostly focused on how folks build, operate, and maintain large scale data and computing infrastructure in Russia and the United States. He currently works as a user researcher with Ad Hoc, a civic technology company dedicated to improving the federal government’s data processing infrastructure.

Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University. Before joining Johns Hopkins University in 2000, she taught at the Delhi School of Economics for more than thirty years and also held a joint appointment at the New School for Social Research from 1997- 2000. Veena Das’s research covers a range of fields. She is passionately interested in the question of how ethnography generates concepts; how we might treat philosophical and literary traditions from India and other regions as generative of theoretical and practical understanding of the world; how to render the texture and contours of everyday life; and the way everyday and the event are joined together in the making of the normal and the critical. Her most recent books are Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary (2007) Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty (2015) and three co-edited volumes, The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy (2014), Living and Dying in the Contemporary World: A Compendium (2015) and Politics of the Urban Poor (forthcoming).

Christopher Morphew, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education, concentrates his research on issues of institutional diversity in higher education, including those related to state higher education policy and the ways in which colleges and universities communicate to constituent groups. Prior to becoming dean of the School of Education in August 2017, Dean Morphew was professor and executive associate dean in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. He holds a Ph.D. in social sciences and education from Stanford University, as well as degrees from Harvard University and the University of Notre Dame. His most recent book, The Challenges of Independent Colleges, co-edited with John Braxton, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in November 2017.

Shane Butler is Nancy H. and Robert E. Hall Professor in the Humanities, Department of Classics and Director, Classics Research Lab, Johns Hopkins University. He works on Latin literature from antiquity through the Renaissance. He has many publications but among those most relevant to our discussion at hand in so far as has to do with the interface of human bodies with the form of material objects are: The Hand of Cicero, 2002 which considers the material context of the production and circulation of Roman oratory, The Matter of the Page, 2011, which examines ways in which the physical formats of books shape the meanings and metaphors of the texts they embody, Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses, 2013, co-edited with Alex Purves, which follows the connections between literature and the senses and The Ancient Phonograph, 2015, which explores the role of the voice in the making and reading of classical literature, with insights drawn from later analogues. This is only to name a few of his books. He presently is working on a new book tentatively titled On the Surface: John Addington Symonds Across Space and Time.

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