UMBC Awarded Maryland Humanities Council Grant for “Mapping Dialogues” Project

As part of its latest major grant cycle, the Maryland Humanities Council awarded UMBC a $10,000 grant for “Mapping Dialogues,” a project that focuses on the history and culture of the Baybrook and Sparrows Point communities.

Working with industrial neighborhoods in Baltimore, the project uses maps as starting points for discussions on the past, present, and future of industrial space. The project centers on two historically interrelated yet geographically separate areas: Baybrook in the southern tip of Baltimore and the Sparrows Point Steel Mill communities situated just across the southwestern city border in Baltimore County.

46-Mill-Stories-640x425Dialogues will be held with residents in both local communities and then brought to the general public at the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI). People will interact with large maps to engage in conversation and share their stories and memories, including their experiences of how neighborhoods change when industry declines and leaves.

“Grant categories and criteria encourage free public programming in many forms, using the humanities as the central tools to explore and understand the complexity of our human experience. Grant awards aim to engage diverse audiences and serve Maryland communities that are not currently served by other MHC programs,” a press release announcing the grant stated.

Maurice Berger, CADVC, Latest “Race Story” in The New York Times

In the latest essay for his Race Stories column in The New York Times, Maurice Berger, research professor at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, examines the shifting attitudes toward the Confederate battle flag. “The image was at once mundane and historic. In Alabama last Wednesday, on the order of Gov. Robert Bentley, workers took down the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the state Capitol and were photographed as they did. The camera, whose role it was to record a reality — and thus to make visible its compelling details of the world — now documented a symbol’s imminent invisibility,” notes Berger, but adds, “In the end, retiring an icon is not the same as dealing with the underlying institutional, emotional, economic and historic complications that it represents.”

Read “Making a Confederate Flag Invisible” and view the photographs at The New York Times Lens blog.

Berger’s Race Stories column, which appears monthly on The New York Times website, is “a continuing exploration of the relationship of race to photographic portrayals of race.”

Robert Provine, Psychology, Explains Why We Yawn in Wired Magazine

In a Wired article published on June 23, Psychology Research Professor and Professor Emeritus Robert Provine shared insight into why humans yawn when they do. Provine has done extensive research on the topic and is author of Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond.

Robert ProvineIn the article, Provine noted that we tend to yawn when we are tired: “Right after waking and before bedtime,” he said, “which is consistent with yawning’s role in facilitating state changes: sleep to wakefulness, wakefulness to sleep, arousal to de-arousal, or vice versa.”

When further examining the reasons for yawning beyond physiological state changes, Provine shared that, “Nervous people will definitely yawn more, but there haven’t been a lot of formal studies investigating why.”

The article also stated that: “Some psychologists, including Provine, suggest that anxious yawning could be an example of what’s known as a displacement activity—i.e., behavior that results from an uncomfortable or stressful situation and that seems out of context. Examples in humans include scratching one’s head, stroking a non-existent beard, or repeatedly tugging on an earlobe. Animals do it too. Ever see a cat go after a bird, miss, and then immediately start grooming itself? That’s not some awkward attempt to play it cool. It’s a displacement behavior.”

To read the full article “Big Question: Why Do I Yawn When I’m Nervous or Stressed?” click here.

Rebecca Adelman, Media and Communication Studies, Questions Assumptions Surrounding Shark Attacks in Discovery

Rebecca Adelman, an assistant professor of media and communication studies, was recently interviewed for a story in Discovery about the narratives and sensational news headlines surrounding shark attacks. In the article, Adelman said that common language describing such attacks can often minimize the role of humans.

Rebecca Adelman“It neatly erases any kind of human culpability for the shark bite while underscoring the notion that humans […] ought to be able to roam freely and safely anywhere on the planet, regardless of what other creatures might have preceded them there by millions of years,” she explained.

“Yet it also makes a kind of sense out of the event of a shark biting a hapless child, swimmer, surfer, or fisherman by attributing a kind of malevolent agency to the offending creature. It deflects the question of whether the human might have made a mistake by being in that part of the ocean at that time (or might have made a faulty calculation about the risk associated with their actions), but also provides a defense against the terrifying idea that bad things just happen,” she added. The full article can be accessed here.   

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on Midday with Dan Rodricks and WBAL-TV

Following the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina last week, Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, was a guest on WYPR’s Midday with Dan Rodricks to share her thoughts and perspective.

Kimberly MoffittMoffitt said that she is largely focusing her energy on what she is teaching in her classes: “I try to talk to my students and educate them on what the power structures are that exist in American society that are implicitly embedded in ways where we carry out certain actions in life that impact other groups of people in very negative ways,” she said.

“We can talk about housing policies, public education, a wide range of issues…the legal and judicial system and how that inadvertently or negatively affects people of color in this country. Those are the issues that I think students in particular who are young need to have access to and to see in order to understand how problematic the actual structure is.”

The following day on WYPR, Moffitt covered Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement that he has advanced non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other local and national news topics. Earlier in the week, Moffitt appeared on WBAL-TV to discuss Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school opening in the fall in which she is a co-founder. To listen to and watch all of the segments, click below:

Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys (WBAL-TV)
Talking about Charleston (Midday with Dan Rodricks)
Midday Politics (Midday with Dan Rodricks)

Joan Shin, Education, Writes about the International Children’s Song Approach in The Conversation

Joan ShinJoan Shin, education professor of practice, recently published an article in The Conversation that examined the power of using children’s songs to introduce children to different cultures and the world around them. “Without realizing it, children learn language and content simultaneously. Songs build skills that help children distinguish the sounds of a language, and connect sound to script and assist with vocabulary building,” Shin wrote.

Shin discussed the teaching approach she developed that combines her song research and search for cultural materials to teach English as a global language. Shin’s “international children’s song approach” uses songs from around the world as a method of teaching English to young children.

“Whether children are learning English as a second language, or even a third or fourth language, they are being exposed to it at earlier and earlier ages worldwide. Using international children’s songs from around the world is an effective approach for teaching English as a global language to kids. Language is a carrier of culture, and English is uniquely positioned to communicate across cultures around the world. Materials to teach it should embrace all cultures,” Shin described.

To read the full article “How should kids learn English: through Old MacDonald’s farm or Ali Baba’s farm?” click here.

Linda Dusman, Music, and Eric Smallwood, Visual Arts, Discuss Their Octava App with The Baltimore Sun

octavaLinda Dusman, Music, and Eric Smallwood, Visual Arts, were interviewed by The Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith about their app Octava, which is designed to enhance the audience experience at symphony orchestra performances. Read the full article on the Sun’s website here.

“The app, called Octava, is aimed at enhancing the musical experience for listeners by delivering information via Wifi, synced with the music being played in the concert hall,” says Smith. In development for several years and formerly known as Symphony Interactive, the project received a $150,000 Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) grant in 2014 (read more here).