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Most of our students and faculty use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and we are all aware, at least vaguely, that the networks are both creative and disruptive. However, scholars rarely set aside time to discuss the rise of social networks with students, or debate their merits among themselves.

A campus wide series of discussions and debates can make explicit the historical significance and consequences of these new modes of communication. The networks are a new kind of technology, a new kind of business, and a new kind of public sphere. Hence, social networks lend themselves to “interdisciplinary” conversations without the risk of losing the interest of students who have not yet mastered a discipline or heard others debate an issue using perspectives arising from different disciplines.

Select Departments/Centers with Deep Pertinent Expertise

  • Psychology: cognitive effects of social networks on young people; opportunities for expressing various identities on social networks; lexical processing
  • Education: uses of technology in education; impact on cognition and motivation
  • History: revolutionary modes of communication; differences and similarities between antecedent technologies (e.g. printing press) 
  • Political Science: citizen and opposition movement; revolutionary uses of digital technology (e.g. Tunisia and Egypt); government efforts to use social media to connect to citizens; government efforts to control citizen access to and use of social media
  • Anthropology: ethnography of social networks; social networks and citizenship
  • Computer Science: problems of data and personal security; problems of maintaining confidentiality/privacy of certain data (e.g., individuals’ health records); reducing identity theft potential created by RFID and other technologies  
  • School of Engineering: design and principles of communication and social networks 
  • Philosophy: ontological status of the network; types of “existences” made possible in electronic networks; definitions of “social” and “identity”
  • Isenberg School of Management: the roles of networks within businesses; networks themselves as businesses
  • Center for Teaching:  faculty’s interactions with social networking; the use of technology in pedagogical practices
  • Center for Public Policy: regulation of social networks

And many more.

To support a rich range of discussions and activities related to social media and networking during AY 12-13, we are offering a mini-grant application process to help facilitate the development of special programs related to our theme. Click here for more information about the grant and application process.