Marc Olano, CSEE, and Anne Rubin, History, Describe the Bandit Video Game Project in the Daily Record

Marc OlanoA team of professors and students across several disciplines have worked together to develop “Bandit,” a video game in which players control a fox that navigates the streets during Civil War-era Baltimore. The game is one of two developed this semester in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Professor Marc Olano’s game development class. The group collaborated with students in the history department and Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history, to develop viewpoints of diverse actors in the Pratt Street Riots.

Anne RubinThe work was featured in a Daily Record article published on May 19: “The game-design students initially pitched several game ideas to the history class, and Rubin said she and her history students were fond of a proposed mystery-style game because they thought it would lend itself more readily to the teaching of history. But the animal-focused game was the most feasible to produce, so that became the choice. ‘We’re really happy with how this turned out,’ Rubin said.”

To read about the Bandit video game presentation at URCAD 2015, click here. To read the article “At UMBC, a taste of professional life for game designers” in the Daily Record, click here (subscription required).

Center for Aging Studies Research on Senior Housing Transitions Featured in Reuters

An article published in The Gerontologist by the Center for Aging Studies on stigma and distress with multilevel senior housing residents was recently featured in Reuters. The article, published by Erin Roth, Center for Aging Studies senior research analyst, Kevin Eckert, professor and chair of sociology and anthropology, and Leslie Morgan, professor of sociology and co-director of the UMBC/UMB Ph.D. program in gerontology, found that “residents and places reflecting the highest levels of care are stigmatized in a context where people are monitored for health changes and required to relocate. Consequently, residents self-isolate, develop a diminished sense of self, and hide health and cognitive conditions out of fear of relocation.,” according to the study’s abstract.

Public Policy bldng.The researchers conducted 470 interviews with 367 residents, family, staff and administrators at seven facilities to better understand how stigma and distress are experienced in an environment where residents are grouped by levels of functioning.

“For senior housing developers, multilevel senior housing has proven to be profitable in many ways – it’s heavily marketed and has become the prevalent model for senior housing and care,” said Kevin Eckert in the Reuters article. “It is more cost-effective, profitable, and convenient to group people together by levels.”

“The social challenges that result are often recognized by staff and administrators but the difficulty for everyone is in imagining a true alternative, when the model so thoroughly dominates the senior housing landscape,” he added.

The researchers found that few residents in lower levels of care enjoy mingling with others in different levels of care: “Many people shopping for a senior housing setting are not wanting to face the possibility of these next moves – and so staff have said that some people will decline the part of the tour that includes the nursing care center,” Erin Roth said. “This points to a deeper sociocultural fear of death and decline that is so pervasive and is a contributing factor to the problems we layout in the article.”

To read the full article in Reuters, click here. To read the article “Stigma and Discontinuity in Multilevel Senior Housing’s Continuum of Care” in The Gerontologist, click here.

Lia Purpura and Deborah Rudacille, English, Reflect on Freddie Gray’s Death in the Baltimore Sun and American Short Fiction

English Writer in Residence Lia Purpura and English Professor of the Practice Deborah Rudacille recently published their thoughts and reflections on the death of Freddie Gray in American Short Fiction. Their powerful commentaries focused on the problematic use of cliches in how the Baltimore riots were described and the tactics of police in certain neighborhoods in the city.

Lia PurpuraIn “Baltimore, April 2015: Some Thoughts on Thugs and Clichés,” Purpura wrote about some of the words that were surrounding descriptions of the riots (thugs, criminals, etc.) and the need to listen and reflect to fully understand the complexity of the situation: “What can done to accurately communicate the complexity of Baltimore, April 2015? Slow the language way down. Occupy the space clichés have claimed—clichés want to buddy up, cozy up, shut the door and flip the lock. Set up, in place of clichés, language that searches, creates friction, challenges sensibilities. Restless language. Language arrived at after listening hard. Refuse the ease of rant and cant—the power gained by repeating words that have come before yours, and that no longer work.” An excerpt of Purpura’s commentary was also published in the Baltimore Sun.

DeborahRudacilleIn “Our Depraved Hearts,” Deborah Rudacille wrote about her observations of different police tactics in certain areas of Baltimore City: “We may not have administered the beating, we may not have loaded Gray into the van, but like the subjects of [Sidney] Milgram’s experiment…we acquiesce to the authorities who tell us we will not be held responsible for the state of our city or for the fate of young men like Freddie Gray… Last week white Baltimore joined black Baltimore in rejecting the experiment. The protests and marches around the city have been remarkable for their diversity. I attended one of the rallies at City Hall and saw old people and young, black and white, similarly outraged by Gray’s death.”

To read complete versions of both articles in American Short Fiction, click here.

Rebecca Adelman, Media and Communication Studies, Writes About the Adam Gadahn Case in The Conversation

In an article published May 18 in The Conversation,  Rebecca Adelman, an assistant professor of media and communication studies, wrote about Adam Gadahn’s complicated relationship with the U.S. government in the wake of the announcement of his death on April 23. Gadahn, an American propagandist for al-Qaida, was killed by an accidental drone strike in Pakistan on January 19. He had previously been charged with treason in 2006.

Rebecca Adelman“The federal government’s decision to indict him for the capital offense of treason reveals its need to confront and contain visual threats. Like a latter-day Toyko Rose, Gadahn’s skillful use of propaganda made him a potent enemy in the eyes of the state,” Adelman wrote.

In her article, Adelman draws reference to her book Beyond the Checkpoint: Visual Practices in the Global War on Terror, in which she closely examines how the Gadahn case evolved: “I analyze the documents surrounding the case to argue that the state did not truly desire to execute Gadahn or even to try him. Neither of these actions would have satisfactorily redressed his explicitly visual crimes Instead, I suggested that the most likely outcome for a captured Gadahn would have been indefinite detention: active, perpetual disappearance in an effort to finally control his image. My hypothesis that the government would not seek to kill Gadahn was borne out by his status as an unintended casualty of this drone strike.”

To read the full article titled “What the accidental killing of an American ‘traitor’ says about the power of visual weapons,” click here.

John Rennie Short, School of Public Policy, in The Conversation

John Rennie Short“Now that the dust has settled and the media have moved onto the next crisis, we can ponder what the Baltimore riots tell us about broader and deeper issues in the US,” School of Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short wrote in an article published in The Conversation on May 15. In his column, using his “stress test” approach, Short examined the forces at play in Baltimore that contributed to the recent events: “Among them are decades of biased economic policies, class differences as well as racism, structural problems in metropolitan America, the consequences of aggressive policing and the geography of multiple deprivations.”

The article provided an in-depth look at deindustrialization, the geo-economic disconnect, and policing in America. Short discussed the need to consider issues of class and a greater commitment to job training for people who have been displaced by the loss of manufacturing jobs. He also noted the challenges facing Baltimore are similar to other parts of the country.

“But there are other Baltimores outside of Maryland. They include Akron, Birmingham, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Toledo. It is not just an inner city problem. Along with Bernadette Hanlon and Tom Vicino, I have documented the problems of inner ring of suburbs,” Short wrote.

“Baltimores of economic neglect, massive job loss, aggressive policing and multiple deprivations are found throughout metropolitan regions across the country. They are the places of despair that house the voiceless of the US political system, the marginalized of the US economy and those left behind in the commodification of US society,” he added.

To read the full article titled “There are more Baltimores: America’s legacy of hollowed-out cities,” click here.

“The Mathematics of Being Human” Reviewed in Siam News

Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Photo by Marlayna Demond.

Ahead of a scheduled performance of “The Mathematics of Being Human” on July 29 at the BRIDGES Conference in Baltimore, the play received a positive review in Siam News. It debuted at UMBC on November 4, 2014, and has since been performed across the country in San Antonio, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Featuring Michele Osherow, associate professor of English, Manil Suri, mathematics professor, Savannah Jo Chamberlain ’16, theatre, Chaz Atkinson ’16, theatre, and directed by Alan Kreizenbeck, associate professor of theatre, the play chronicles the struggles of two professors trying to develop a joint seminar studying the intersection of math and literature.

“I was lucky enough to get a seat at a performance held at UMBC, along with apparently a dozen or more of the students who had taken the real-life freshman humanities seminar that inspired this play. Judging by their appreciative laughter at pivotal plot points, I think that much of the performance rang true to their experience as humanities students suckered into a mathematics class,” wrote Katherine Socha, who reviewed the play for Siam. 

“Wonderful selections of mathematics connections in literature and art highlight the rich opportunities for the cross-cultural battles led by these sharply defined faculty characters,” she added.

To read the complete review “Play Takes Aim at the ‘Two Cultures’ Divide,” click here. For more information on the July 29 performance in Baltimore, click here.

Donald Norris (School of Public Policy) and Thomas Schaller (Political Science), Provide Analysis Ahead of Martin O’Malley’s May 30 Announcement

Donald NorrisFormer Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is scheduled to announce his presidential plans on May 30 in Baltimore. School of Public Policy Director Donald Norris was interviewed by WJZ Channel 13 and commented on what the Democratic party landscape could look like for O’Malley should he officially declare his candidacy. “There is an increasing number of voices that are saying we need an alternative to Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Tom Schaller 1Thomas Schaller, professor and chair of political science, was quoted in a Governing article about how the recent events in Baltimore could impact O’Malley’s presidential plans. “The bad news is that the country is paying attention to O’Malley and policing in Baltimore because now that’s a negative issue,” he said. But the good news is that O’Malley’s “name is in the news now in a way that never would have happened otherwise.”

Schaller was also quoted in a New York Times Magazine article discussing what the 2016 election could look like in Maryland for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski. “Any financial advantage by [Rep. Chris Van Hollen] will probably be evened out by the sweat equity of progressive grass-roots volunteers. So resourcewise, this is a draw. The differentiator will be policy stuff.”

In two articles focusing on what the national political scene could look like for Republicans in 2016, Schaller’s latest book The Stronghold was reviewed in Vox and America’s Voice.

To read complete media coverage, click below.

O’Malley to Announce Presidential Plans May 30 (WJZ)
Mayor Martin O’Malley Versus Governor Martin O’Malley (Governing)
The Great Democratic Crack-Up of 2016 (New York Times Magazine)
Will Republicans’ stronghold in Congress cripple their quest for the White House? (Vox)
GOP Control of the House Comes at a High Cost to Party’s Future (America’s Voice)
Four policy changes that could improve race equality in America (Baltimore Sun)