IUPUI professor provided key testimony in Nigerian oil-spill case settled for $83 million

Scott Pegg treks through mud, dead mangrove trees and previous oil spill residue to get to the site of a new oil spill in 2012.

Scott Pegg treks through mud, dead mangrove trees and previous oil spill residue to get to the site of a new oil spill in 2012.

In an out-of-court settlement announcement Wednesday, Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria agreed to a compensation package of 55 million pounds — about $83.4 million — for a Nigerian farming and fishing community damaged by massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009. An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor had been among witnesses for the residents of Bodo, Nigeria, in their three-year legal battle.

According to a statement by Leigh Day, the London-based law firm representing the community of Bodo, 15,600 individual claimants will received a total of 35 million pounds, with the remainder of the settlement going to the Bodo community as a whole. Shell has also agreed to clean up the Bodo Creek, Day said.

Scott Pegg, chair of the Department of Political Science in the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, has been actively involved in the life of Bodo for more than 14 years. As someone who has worked in Bodo for years and as an honorary chief in the village, Pegg said it was the least he could do to provide a detailed witness statement on behalf of the Bodo plaintiffs.

Pegg first visited the community in 2000 and returned a year later with his wife, Tijen Demirel-Pegg. The then newlyweds donated $2,800 of their wedding gift money to the Bebor Model Nursery and Primary School in Botor Village, Bodo. This money finished a roofing project and funded a cement floor for a five-classroom primary school building at the school that now serves more than 300 children.

The couple continued to raise money for the school, and in 2002 their work was formally incorporated into the work of the Indianapolis-based charity now known as Timmy Global Health. The Peggs’ work with the school in Bodo now includes providing boreholes for drinking water; boys’, girls’ and teachers’ toilets for better sanitation; and a pilot health program providing immunizations, health exams and deworming treatments to students at the school.

In 2002, the Bodo Council of Chiefs named the Peggs honorary chiefs in recognition of their contribution to the community’s educational development. In August 2005, Botor Village in Bodo dedicated the “Chief Prof Scott Pegg Road.”

Pegg’s written testimony, filed in the case before the High Court in London, used numerous pictures to document the story of Bodo’s transformation after the oil spills from a vibrant fishing community to a land of “environmental devastation as far as the eye could see.”

Of particular interest to the British lawyers representing the Bodo claimants were the many photographs Pegg had from earlier visits to Bodo before the 2008-09 oil spills. Pegg and people who visited with him often would go down to the waterfront and paddle out into Bodo Creek on a traditional fishing canoe for recreation. Pegg said he never envisioned that his “tourist photos” along the waterfront would actually be used to help document how green and verdant the mangrove forests in Bodo were before the oil spills.

Pegg, who holds a doctorate in political science, described himself as “sort of a perfect storm” as a witness in that the combination of his academic training and interests and his track record of publications on the oil industry in Africa, plus his local status as a chief in the village, made his testimony hard to discredit. At IUPUI, Pegg primarily teaches courses on international relations, war and conflict, U.S. foreign policy, globalization and African politics.

The IUPUI professor is proud of the fact that the Bodo case is the first major legal settlement where compensation has been paid directly to individual Africans and not just done through chiefs or community leaders. He believes the success or failure of the promised environmental cleanup of Bodo Creek will ultimately be even more important than the compensation itself. He also hopes the case will set a precedent and establish benchmark standards for oil companies to follow in dealing with other oil spills throughout the Niger Delta.

“Bodo has suffered and continues to suffer horribly because of the two massive oil spills that hit the community in 2008-09 and for which any kind of clean-up effort has still not yet started,” Pegg said in an email message to Timmy Global Health supporters and other friends. “Even if everything goes well with this settlement, the community faces a daunting list of challenges and problems.

“Still, this is a great day for the people of Bodo. As people who have supported them in various ways, I hope you can savor and enjoy this news as well.”

Call for Nominations: Max Planck Research Award

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Excellent scientists and scholars of all nationalities who are expected to continue producing outstanding academic achievements in international collaboration – not least with the assistance of this award – are eligible to be nominated for the Max Planck Research Award.

On an annually-alternating basis, the call for nominations addresses areas within the natural and engineering sciences, the life sciences, and the social sciences and humanities.

The Max Planck Research Award 2015 will be conferred in the area of humanities and social sciences in the subject

Religion and Modernity: Secularisation and Social and Religious Pluralism
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The multidisciplinary field “Religion and Modernity: Secularisation and Social and Religious Pluralism” addresses a range of diverse fundamental, partly interconnected research questions with reference to the development and change of religious thought and practice on their way to modernity and up to the present time. Is the conventional equation between modernity and secularisation a valid one? To what extent is the system of values, which shapes modern culture and society, rooted in the Christian tradition of the Middle Ages or in that of the early modern period (individualism, human rights, the intrinsic value of a secular order in contrast to a spiritual one)? Other questions playing a role within this debate address the adaptability of different religious and confessional communities to the challenges of modernity, as well as the relationship between state/secular authority and church(es) or other religious communities in the recent past and particularly in our present time. Concepts which are important in this area are for example laicism (Laïcité) or “civil religion” or privileging large religious communities. Finally the rise of religious pluralism and the individualisation of religious experience are relevant phenomena for this topic.

Every year, the Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society grant two research awards to one researcher working abroad and one researcher working in Germany. These two awards will be bestowed independently.

The Presidents/Vice Chancellors of universities and the heads of research institutions in Germany are eligible to make nominations (c.f. list of eligible nominators). Direct applications are not accepted. As a rule, each award is endowed with 750,000 EUR and may be used over a period of three to a maximum of five years to fund research chosen by the award winner.

Sponsor deadline: 31 Jan 2015, Nominations

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Max Planck Research Award

Ebola: “Over There”…Now “Over Here” An Urgent Conversation About Ethics, Law, Public Health, and Practice

Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus

The initial outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EBV) in West Africa presented many ethical, legal, logistical and clinical challenges for first responders, clinicians, politicians and researchers. These challenges have been magnified now that EBV has crossed the Atlantic transforming the public conversation from a worrisome public health challenge over there, to one we need to address over here. A group of experts in the ethical, legal, public health and clinical care implications will discuss several key issues facing patients, practitioners and the public. Following short presentations, an open dialogue will allow for exchange of perspectives.

Discussants:
Eric M. Meslin, PhD-
Director, Indiana University Center for Bioethics, Associate Dean and Professor of Bioethics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Professor of Law and Bioethics, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Chad Priest, JD, MSN, RN- Assistant Dean for Operations & Community Partnerships, Indiana University School of Nursing, Co-Director, Disaster Medicine Fellowship, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine
Ross D. Silverman, JD, MPH- Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Health Policy & Management Indiana University, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health Professor of Public Health & Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Nicolas P. Terry, LL.M.- Hall Render Professor of Law & Director, Hall Center for Law and Health, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Co-sponsored by the Indiana University Center for Bioethics, Fairbanks School of Public Health, School of Nursing, and Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Blomquist stepping down as dean to pursue passion for water resource management, policy

Bill Blomquist, Dean IUPUI School of Liberal Arts

Bill Blomquist, Dean
IUPUI School of Liberal Arts

Bill Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, has announced he’s stepping down effective summer 2015 to return to regular faculty duties and pursue projects at IUPUI that align with his research interests concerning water resources management and policy.

An internationally recognized expert in water institutions and policies, Blomquist wants to contribute to the research-informed development of state water policy and planning for Indiana. According to a six-month study recently released by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, there is a critical need for a state-driven water plan to identify resources and develop ways to deliver water to underserved areas.

“Bill Blomquist led the School of Liberal Arts through a transformational period –launching its two Ph.D. programs; welcoming the Department of Journalism and Public Relations; facilitating the creation of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; improving support of part-time faculty; and enhancing the scholarly strength of the school,” IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz said. “He now has the opportunity to focus his established expertise and leadership to a vital issue for Indiana: water.”

Blomquist earned his Bachelor of Science in economics and Master of Arts in political science from Ohio University and his Ph.D. in political science from Indiana University.

Bantz will soon form a committee charged with conducting a national search for Blomquist’s successor.

Common Theme filling essential purpose for a focus on tough issues

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2013-15 Common Theme, “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice.”

For Jane Luzar and Khadija Khaja, “respectful conversation and dialogue” is the glue that holds a large college campus together even when views are completely different.

That’s what they envisioned for the Common Theme at IUPUI, launched a year ago to help the campus deal with issues that could lead to polarized discourse in teaching and learning climates.

Khaja is a faculty member from the School of Social Work and the Academic Affairs Faculty Fellow responsible for the 2013-15 Common Theme, “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice.”

Khaja facilitates the program, working closely with mentor Dean Jane Luzar of Honors College, the director of project, and an interdisciplinary collaboration of Common Theme steering committee faculty, staff, community members and students.

There are numerous events planned for 2014-15, but the two most significant on this year’s Common Theme calendar include keynote talks by the distinguished Rev. Harold Good on September 10 and by author/filmmaker Phil Cousineau on Nov. 19. Cousineau wrote “Beyond Forgiveness, Reflections on Atonement: Healing the Past, Making Amends, and Restoring Balance in our Lives and World.”

For Luzar, Common Theme fills a vital role campus role.

“We wanted to develop a way for our campus to discuss important issues without them getting bogged down in politics or personalities,” Luzar said. “Common Theme helps achieve that goal.”

Luzar is convinced that IUPUI is on the right track to encourage a free flow of ideas and generate thought, particularly among students. For example, she said, Good is known for helping shepherd Northern Ireland in a direction toward fewer guns and a peace agreement among previously warring factions.

“If you think about it, that’s a rather timely subject for those of us in Indianapolis,” Luzar said, referring to the escalating number of shootings and murders in our city. She is hopeful that Good’s commitment to peace, justice and reconciliation might rub off on guests attending Good’s IUPUI appearance.

Campus reaction to Common Theme events has been solid, the Honors College official noted.

Khaja and co-investigators Kathy Grove, Dan Griffith and Ian McIntosh led 33 focus groups to help discover when discussions tended to break down. “It was clear that students, faculty, staff and some community members wanted more cross-campus conversations,” she said.

For example “we heard all the time that faculty didn’t feel comfortable expressing themselves or their opinions in class because they worried that some students would penalize them for being too conservative or too liberal,” Luzar noted. “And we heard the same things from some students about faculty reaction.”

The focus groups identified a wide array of hot-button issues, including bullying and cyber-bullying, race, religion, sexual identity and many more.

Events and workshops have been well attended to try and address some of the issues. But it can be difficult to measure the value of a program like Common Theme can be, Luzar said.

The project is drawing wide interest. The collaboration between Common Theme and the Office for Intergroup Dialogue and Civil Community will be discussed at this month’s annual conference and expo of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. And the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks invited Khaja to speak on lessons learned and how to implement such a program.

“Khaja’s research has helped us find ways to get schools otherwise siloed to work together and focus on key topics,” Luzar said. “That’s useful to building our campus community.”

by Ric Burrous

More Hospitals Use the Healing Powers of Public Art

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‘Mike Kelley 1,’ video art by Jennifer Steinkamp at the Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic Center for Medical Art and Photography

Researchers are learning more about the precise ways paintings and other works of art help patients and families in the healing process. With studies showing a direct link between the content of images and the brain’s reaction to pain, stress, and anxiety, hospitals are considering and choosing artworks based on the evidence and giving it a higher priority than merely decoration for sterile rooms and corridors.

“These are not just accoutrements or aesthetics anymore,” says Lisa Harris, a nephrologist and chief executive of Eskenazi Health, affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

With a $1.5 million budget from donors, she says, the health system commissioned 19 artists to create original works to support “the sense of optimism, vitality and energy” for the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, which opened last December. “This is right down the fairway of what we need to be doing to promote health,” Dr. Harris says.

“Paths Crossed,” by Maine artist Aaron T. Stephan, is a large, spiraling wooden sculpture composed of six intertwined ladders suspended from the ceiling in the hospital’s two-story main concourse.

To Dr. Harris, it is a visual representation of the hospital’s approach to care, with “lives intertwined as we go from health to sickness and back to health again,” she says. People have reacted differently, she notes. “Some see it as DNA, and some see it as a roller coaster.”

Anne Berry, 81, says, “It makes me think of flying.” She visits the hospital for procedures and tests such as a mammogram and always takes time to look at the artworks. She has “white coat syndrome,” which makes her nervous about going to a doctor, but she says, “I have found the art and the environment at Eskenazi makes it less stress-inducing for me.”

Close to half of hospitals have arts programs, which include art therapy classes and musical performances, according to a 2009 report from the Society for Arts in Healthcare, now known as the Arts & Health Alliance.

Permanent art displays are most prevalent, and the trend continues to grow, says Steven Libman, outgoing executive director and now a consultant for the nonprofit.

Though many hospitals are in a budget crunch, funds for art are often provided by philanthropy, or built into construction budgets of new facilities.

For help with choosing art works, consultants, hospital curators and art committees turn to studies such as those gathered in the nonprofit Center for Health Design’s “Guide to Evidence-Based Art.”

Research suggests patients are positively affected by nature themes and figurative art with unambiguous, positive faces that convey a sense of security and safety.

Some studies have found that patients are likely to respond negatively to art with negative images or icons. Abstract art also often rates low in patient preferences compared with representational art.

One 1993 study found that patients exposed to a nature image experienced less postoperative anxiety and were more likely to switch to weaker painkillers than those who viewed an abstract image or no image.

A 2011 study found that nature images helped calm restless behavior and noise levels in two Texas emergency department waiting rooms.

A 2012 review of neuroscience studies published in the Health Environments Research & Design Journal found that images of fearful or angry faces, ambiguous subject matter, high novelty and unfamiliarity, lack of realism and sharp contours elicit negative emotional responses in the brain and suggested they should be avoided.

Hospitals aren’t shying away from art whose content is open to interpretation or might make patients reflect. In the spring 2014 issue of the same journal, the Cleveland Clinic reported that patients surveyed on its contemporary collection—which includes abstract and nonrepresentational imagery by some prominent artists—reported a significant positive effect on their experience and on mood, stress, comfort and expectations.

The study suggested patients may respond positively to the diversity of the collection and to other types of art in addition to nature art.

Still, says Iva Fattorini, a dermatologist and global chairwoman of the Cleveland Clinic’s Arts & Medicine Institute, the focus is on art that is “not disturbing, but uplifting and diverse.” The aim “is to take your mind away from the disease and replace the time you are losing inside hospital with some beauty.”

Some patients in its survey reported they were motivated to get out of bed to view the artwork. Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder reported the most significant positive improvement in mood.

One popular piece is “Mike Kelley 1″ by artist Jennifer Steinkamp; an illuminated video installation of a large tree that cycles through the seasons, changing color and moving as if in a breeze.

Heather Kreinbrink says when her daughter Allison had a stroke at age 12 in 2010 and was hospitalized for a week, she and her husband, Rod, found looking at the installation outside the children’s wing provided a sense of calm amid their fear and exhaustion.

“It ended up being something we would go to every day for peace and to come to terms with what was happening,” she says.

When Allison was discharged, her parents brought her to see it. “It made me think as I saw other kids being pushed in wheelchairs by their parents, how awesome it is to be able to have something like that to take your mind of everything you are going through,” says Allison, now 16. Each year when she returns for a checkup, she poses for a picture in front of the tree.

Jeffrey Rothenberg, an obstetrician and gynecologist and chief medical officer at Indiana University Health’s University Hospital, says he learned to make glass art himself as a stress reliever. He is chairman of a public art committee for Indiana University School of Medicine’s Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute that called on artists with ties to Indiana to create works for a building devoted to vision.

“People sent in a lot of great pictures, but some of them were blurry or misty mornings”—not the best visuals, Dr. Rothenberg says, for “people getting their eyes dilated so they can’t see.”

The committee has chosen a range of works aimed at promoting healing and providing comfort, mostly purchased and some donated after the works were selected, including a glass wall sculpture and mobile by Dr. Rothenberg that he donated. Images in health-care settings shouldn’t be shocking, Dr. Rothenberg says, yet “at the same time you don’t want something so boring and generic that people walk away.”

The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., chooses art to create a “healing environment,” says Chrysanthe Yates, director of its Lyndra P. Daniel Center for Humanities in Medicine.

Despite artistic merit, not all works fit the bill. For example, the hospital passed on an option to display a show of works about the Vietnam War, “which were beautiful but very stark and for obvious reasons not appropriate,” she says.

Mayo also exhibits pieces on loan from Jacksonville’s Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. The institutions are collaborating on a program for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and their caregivers, who meet at the museum for conversations about art works as a means of soothing and relieving stress. A research study is planned to measure those effects.

For more information, contact Laura Landro.

Upcoming construction at IUPUI will strengthen ties to community, renovate IU Natatorium

394504_w308Change is coming to the IUPUI campus, thanks to a partnership between IUPUI, the city of Indianapolis and Lilly Endowment.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced the joint $30 million deal Monday, along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie, representatives from Lilly Endowment and other organizations involved in the project. The partnership is designed to strengthen IUPUI’s ties to the surrounding neighborhoods and make critical renovations to the IU Natatorium.

The IU Natatorium will be undergoing significant renovations.

Under terms of the agreement, the city will turn Michigan and New York streets into two-way roads from West Street, through the campus and across the bridges into the Haughville neighborhood. Part of that project will include improvements to pedestrian crossings, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, medians and other features.

The work will require rerouted traffic patterns beginning in 2015, officials said.

During Monday’s announcement, Ballard cited numerous advantages to the IUPUI campus, the city and its residents.

“Thousands of people enter and exit IUPUI for work, class and access to medical care every day,” the mayor said. “These streets improvements will make it safer and easier for people to access campus and encourage investment and development in Haughville, Hawthorne and Stringtown from companies seeking to be near IUPUI and the growing IU Health complex.”

Funding will include support from the downtown tax increment financing district, plus support from IUPUI and the endowment for upgrades to the natatorium.

“Just as the IUPUI campus has been an integral part of downtown Indianapolis for decades, the IU Natatorium has become one of the city’s signature sports venues of the last 30 years,” said McRobbie. “Indiana University’s investment in the future of the natatorium is emblematic of our commitment to the city of Indianapolis. The planned improvements will allow the natatorium to provide swimmers and divers of all levels — as well as fans of the sports — with a world-class facility for years to come, further strengthening the strong partnership between IU and the city.”

The natatorium is scheduled to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Diving Trials.

“This project involves several partners coming together to benefit the city of Indianapolis and the IUPUI campus,” IUPUI Director of Athletics Mike Moore said. “The natatorium is a special place in our community and these improvements will impact swimmers and divers of all ages, including our student-athletes.”

The infrastructure changes are expected to attract new development and increase the number of residents interested in the opportunities that will be available on the Near Westside. That could include a growing number of students interested in living in apartments and rental units in the affected neighborhoods.

City leaders are hopeful that the growth will help the Westside neighborhoods follow the path of other communities (like Fountain Square and the Old Northside) as “hot spots” in the center of Indianapolis.

The changes will help IUPUI become more a part of the city neighborhoods that surround the campus. City officials also hope that increasingly attractive housing options will help continue recent trends of college graduates deciding to stay in Indianapolis, both as residents and employees.

by Ric Burrous

IUPUI to significantly bolster its journalism/public relations program

Indianapolis bachelor’s/master’s program moves from Bloomington-based School of Journalism management to IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

SLA at IUPUI logoGraduate and undergraduate journalism and public relations students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will have access to an array of new resources beginning July 1, when the long-established Indianapolis location of the IU School of Journalism shifts management from IU Bloomington to the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The program will be known as the IU Department of Journalism and Public Relations at IUPUI.

The move comes as the IU School of Journalism at Bloomington merges on July 1 with the Department of telecommunications and Department of Communication and Culture to form The Media School.

With the transition to local oversight, the IUPUI journalism department will now offer students and faculty additional resources in academic and career advising, curriculum development, research funding, alumni engagement, philanthropic support and more.

School officials also envision partnerships with other departments and schools on campus — such as telecommunications, informatics, event management, medicine and athletics — to further enhance journalism and public relations programs focusing on sports and health/life sciences, and to give students the versatility needed in a rapidly changing profession.

“We’re honored to have our roots in the 100-year-old IU School of Journalism,” said Jonas Bjork, who will become the first chair of the new department. “But as one of IUPUI’s smallest schools, we didn’t have the depth of resources we needed to take our program to the next level. This move — reinforced by unanimous support from our faculty and staff — will help us achieve that.”

Bill Blomquist, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, said the merger is tailor-made for an urban-serving institution in a capital city ripe with professional opportunities.

“The skills and thinking we teach in journalism and public relations –– the ability to search out and explain information — are much in demand among all kinds of employers,” Blomquist said. “Developing those professional skills, along with the versatility instilled by liberal learning, will help prepare our graduates not only for their first jobs but also for the careers that follow.

“What’s more, in this city full of sports, health, life science, government and other communication opportunities, our classroom learning is supplemented and complemented by real-world learning — internships, service projects, guest speakers and more — that you can’t match anywhere else in this state and in few places around the nation.”

Bjork said the name change — to include public relations — is a decision based on the changing nature of the profession and the marketplace.

“While journalists and public relations professionals are, in many places, treated as adversaries, many of the theories and practices we teach journalists and public relations professionals are, in fact, complementary,” Bjork said. “Often, the two groups of professionals must work together, so it helps that we teach them together here at IUPUI with faculty members who bring real-world experience to the table.”

The new Department of Journalism and Public Relations will offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and certificates in journalism and public relations with specializations available in sports journalism, health/life science public relations, advertising and other areas.

IU joins new education technology services partnership

unizin-logo1Indiana University has joined with three other leading U.S. research universities to form the Unizin consortium to provide a suite of services for courses, online learning and big data analytics aimed at significantly improving the way educational content is shared across institutions and ultimately delivered to students.

Unizin, a partnership among IU, Colorado State University, the University of Florida and the University of Michigan, will provide a common technological infrastructure that will allow member universities to work locally and together to strengthen their traditional missions of education and research using the most innovative digital technology available today.

“Leading universities are continuously working to enhance the great value of both a residential and a digital education,” said Brad Wheeler, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Indiana University.

“By coming together to create Unizin, IU and our partners are ensuring a cost-efficient path for the best tools to serve students whether resident, online or through education to our many alumni.

“And just as universities created Internet2 nearly two decades ago to serve our research mission, the founding universities — with others to join soon — are creating Unizin to serve our educational mission by empowering our faculty with the best tools. The Unizin consortium is an extensible and scalable collaboration that is anchored in the deepest and best values of the academy to advance highly effective education.”

For instructors, Unizin will provide powerful content storing and sharing services that give faculty greater control and options over the use of their intellectual property. Their courses can span residential, online, badges or MOOC delivery models from a single software service.

Students will benefit by gaining access to course materials from some of the best minds in higher education in formats that best serve their individual needs — from massive open online courses (MOOCs) and flipped classrooms, where lectures are given online and class time is reserved for discussion and group work, to traditional in-person courses.

The tools and services eventually provided through Unizin also will allow partner institutions to collect and analyze large amounts of data on student performance within the policies of the member universities. These analytics will enable faculty researchers to gain valuable insight into the ways students best learn, thus shaping future approaches to teaching.

IU discussions around the concept of Unizin began more than a year ago following President Michael A. McRobbie’s announcement of the creation of IU Online in 2012. The consortium is being formed to enable individual campus learning strategies and approaches that are powered by the scale gained from the joint capabilities of leading universities for digital education.

“With Unizin, Indiana University is once again at the forefront of the digital revolution in higher education,” said Barbara Bichelmeyer, executive associate vice president for university academic and regional campus affairs and senior director of IU’s Office of Online Education. “Unizin combines the power of platform, content and analytics so we will be able to better share the great work of our faculty across all of our campuses and provide the high-quality courses people expect from IU at greater scale, while improving economies of scale.”

Each investing institution has signed the Unizin charter and committed $1 million over the next three years to develop and shape the shared services. These combined investments will provide a more efficient path to providing educational services than one-off investments by each institution.

Unizin has been created as an unincorporated association within Internet2, a leading not-for-profit global technology organization with more than 500 member institutions across the higher education, government and business communities. The Unizin platform will be delivered over the ultra-high-speed national research and education network operated by Internet2 on behalf of the U.S. research university members.

Unizin will operate under the direction of a soon-to-be-named chief executive officer, who will report to a board of directors comprising representatives from each of the investing member universities as well as Internet2. As a services-providing organization, Unizin will operate with a professional staff and contracts for evolving services.

“The intent of Unizin is to create a community, akin to Internet2, of like-minded institutions who are willing to invest time and resources into creating a service grounded in openness and collaboration that will allow all members to leverage the tremendous power of today’s digital technologies,” said James Hilton, dean of libraries and vice provost for digital education at the University of Michigan. “Unizin is a service organization in support of its members, and in that spirit, we look forward to welcoming additional members to the Unizin consortium.”

Canvas selected as Unizin learning management system platform

As part of its launch, Unizin has selected Canvas by Instructure to provide a common learning management system for use by member institutions. Canvas is a cloud-based technology platform that provides a wide range of functions associated with university classroom administration, including assignments, grading, student-teacher communication, collaborative learning tools and more.

Unizin members will receive access to Canvas as part of the Unizin service. The Unizin partners selected Canvas in large part because of its commitment to implementing IMS Global open standards and to providing most of its system as open-source software. These values and partnership align well with Unizin’s commitment to both speed in execution and open standards that can help further universities’ missions over time.

“We are excited to have witnessed the formation of Unizin,” said Joel Dehlin, chief technology officer at Instructure. “This team of CIOs and institutions are open, progressive, data-loving and passionate about user adoption — the very things that drive the engineering and product teams at Canvas.”

“Canvas is the first of many technology-related services that Unizin plans to provide to its members that will allow them to take greater control over how the content universities create is used and shared,” said Stacy Morrone, associate professor of educational psychology and associate vice president for learning technologies. “These tools, along with faculty-led research, can enable greater insight from learner analytics that will lead to improved student outcomes.”

Canvas was made available to all IU campuses in April, and Unizin services begin July 1. Teams among the founding and prospective institutions have been meeting to shape additional Unizin services for the next year.

Donut Anthropologist Answers All of Your Burning Donut Questions

Paul Mullins 1

June 6 was National Doughnut Day, the day when Krispy Kreme gives away donuts, and artisan shops debut a new wacky creation like “zombie donuts” with cheddar larvae. Time Magazine interviewed Dr. Paul R. Mullins, Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and author of Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut, which explores the pastry as a way to look at the evolution of American consumer culture.

“In pop culture, the donut symbolism begins and ends with Homer Simpson. I suspect he made consumers more receptive to eating donuts because he does what we want to do — owns up to his bodily desires and doesn’t care if he’s carrying a little extra luggage in the center. But we’ve been disciplined to look at donuts as being bad foods, and Homer almost makes them not seem so bad,” Mullins explained.

For more of the interview, read the article here.