Monday, February 16, 2015

Dr. Aaron Duncan on Pokernews

In advance of the publication of Dr. Aaron Duncan's new book, Gambling with the Myth of the American Dream (Routledge, 2015), Pokernews just published an op-ed written by Duncan.


A brief excerpt:

The ability of professional poker players to understand, tolerate, and manage risk makes them role models for entrepreneurs in a system where those skills are vital to economic success and survival. Poker is, after all, the most capitalistic of card games. I contend that poker is therefore the best metaphor for our modern economy. 
Survival in the modern economy relies on one's ability to tolerate and manage. The new "American Dream" is less concerned about hard work and social virtue and more concerned with the acquisition of wealth. Poker is a fascinating game, but it has never been concerned with the promotion of social welfare. Poker did not cause these changes to the American Dream. Indeed, its popularity reflects larger changes in American culture and the growth of the risk society. From worries about the stock market, mortgages and job layoffs to foreign wars, global warming and terrorism, contemporary American culture is dominated by the discussion of risk. 
Myths are the stories a culture uses to establish group identity and purpose. They help us make sense of the world and teach us values and morals. The traditional myth of the American Dream featured as its main character the "self-made man." The self-made man — the concept that any person can be successful through hard work, virtue and talent — is rooted in America's Puritan heritage and continues to shape American thought. However, the character of the self-made man has changed. I believe that the popularity of poker signals a changing American culture that is increasingly accepting of risk and focused on acquiring wealth. At the center of this latest version of the American Dream is a new kind of hero, a poker player. 
No player's journey from rags, or rather middle class, to riches better represents this new telling of the story than Chris Moneymaker. In the telling of his story, the Protestant work ethic with a desire for quick gains, social, and individual virtue are replaced by a warlike mentality that encourages deception and misinformation. Success depends more on luck and less on hard work. When the self-made man becomes the self-made poker player the fundamental values at the center of the myth of the American Dream are changed.
As they say, read the whole thing!

Friday, January 30, 2015

News, Notes, and Awards from UNL's Communication Studies Department!

Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas, Associate Professor of is one of five of five UNL faculty members in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation’s Academic Leadership Program this year and an Administrative Fellow in the UNL Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.    

Dr. Damien Pfister is one of three UNL faculty who received the grant, “Study of the U.S. Institute on Civic Engagement,” from the U.S. Department of State.  The SUSI grant brought 20 undergraduate leaders from Africa to UNL in January 2015.  Damien is a co-PI with Patrice McMahon of Political Science and Linda Major from the Center for Civic Engagement at UNL. 

Amy Arellano, doctoral candidate, has won several awards, recognizing her as an inspiring teacher and mentor. She is receiving the American Forensics Association’s Young Coach Award based on both her coaching pedagogy and her commitment to the community.  The association placed a special focus on her work of using ballots as rhetorical teaching moments.  As a coach, Amy teaches students to frame their topics as cultural critiques as a method to increase social advocacy.  She also won of two Department of Communication Studies Graduate Student Teaching Awards this year.

Dr. Aaron Duncan received the Omicron Delta Kappa honorary Professor of the Month Award. Founded in 1914, OΔK was the first college honor society of a national scope to give recognition and honor for meritorious leadership and service in extracurricular activities and to encourage development of general campus citizenship and has had 300,000 members nationally.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor and Department Chair, has been named a Master Teacher in the Western States Communication Association. Her contributions as teacher were recognized at the association’s annual meeting in Spokane Washington in February 2015. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Charles Braithwaite Sent to Siberia


Dr. Charles Braithwaite (Communication Studies & Center for Great Plains Study) is traveling to Siberia to as part of the Fulbright Program:

For nine years, Charles Braithwaite and his UNL students have been interacting with counterparts in Russia — but only through audio and video beamed over the Internet. In September, he’ll turn the tables as he teaches his popular Global Classroom curriculum from Tyumen State University in western Siberia. 
Teaching the class from a new perspective is just one facet of Braithwaite’s four-week endeavor to Russia as a Fulbright Specialist. He’ll also be working with faculty and administrators at Tyumen State on further adapting the Global Classroom, which is a Communication Studies class that connects UNL students to countries around the world. Through the class, students interact face-to-face with their peers in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey.
...
The Fulbright Specialist Program awards grants to faculty approved to join the Specialist Roster in their selected discipline. Once selected, these professionals can participate in short-term collaborative projects with institutions in more than 140 countries. They remain on the roster for five years. 
Braithwaite will arrive in Russia on Aug. 29. During his stay, he plans a complete evaluation of the Global Classroom with Russian colleagues to ensure it is up to date in technology and curricula. He said he also hopes to branch the Global Classroom into other disciplines. 
“I’ll be meeting with faculty and administrators and students in other programs besides communication to do a needs assessment to see if this could help them as well,” he said. “I’m always looking for opportunities to connect UNL to other parts of the world.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

British Debate Team to Come to Lincoln!



Since 1922, the National Communication Association has sponsored international student exchange tours for the purpose of promoting debate, discussion, and intercultural communication. Renowned for their wit, humor, and eloquence, members of the British National Debate Team tour the United States each year, debating the best and the brightest at our institutions of higher learning.

The Communication Studies Department is pleased to announce that this year, the British debaters will be making a stop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We invite you to join us for a debate on the topic of government surveillance, to be held Wednesday, October 23, 3:00-5:00pm in the auditorium of the Nebraska Union, City Campus.

The event will be free and open to the public. It promises to be educational and entertaining for students, faculty, staff, and community members interested in communication, civic engagement, international relations, and global politics. When Cambridge University debaters visited Lincoln in October 1927, over 700 spectators reportedly attended the event. We hope to draw a large crowd this year as well, and hope you will join us.

Co-sponsors:  

Communication Studies Department

Speech & Debate Program

Center for Civic Engagement

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dr. Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor of Communication and Chair, appeared on the nationally syndicated National Public Radio program On Point, produced by WBUR in Boston. In the July 30th 2013 show Braithwaite discussed communication during family rituals and family reunions. NPR’s On Point is carried by 260 stations nationwide, with a weekly audience of 1.2 million. The show is available here, and Dr. Braithwaite appears at the 36:40 mark. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Bill Seiler!

Dr. Bill Seiler, Professor of Communication Studies was selected for induction into the Central States Communication Association Hall of Fame.  The honor was given at the association’s awards luncheon in Kansas City on April 5, 2013. The award honored Bill’s leadership in the association and discipline, especially his groundbreaking work in Instructional Communication at the University of Nebraska.  Bill Seiler came to the UNL in 1972, marking his 41st year on the faculty.  He was Chair of the Communication Studies Department for 21 years before returning to the faculty in 2011.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rob Portman and When "Them" is Part of "Us"

Originally posted on solizresearch.com by Jordan Soliz:
Recently, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) publicly came out in favor of gay-marriage—a reversal of his previously long-held position on this issue. Portman explained that it was in talks with his gay son and thinking about his happiness and rights that led to this change. Prior to discussions with his son and reflections on his belief, we can safely assume that Sen. Portman knew that a significant portion of Americans were denied what Portman described as the opportunity “to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I've had for over 26 years.” Yet, knowing this was not enough to change his mind on the issue. Rather, it was not until he was able to see the effects of this position on someone he knew intimately that Portman came to the conclusion that forced the change in his stance on marriage equality.  In one sense, this is nothing new. Scholars across many disciplines have devoted significant research on how intergroup contact (i.e., interactions with individuals of different social groups) can change and, often, improve attitudes toward that group. This line of research has included research on intergroup contact and attitudes toward gay men and lesbians (see here, for example). Whereas much of this research focuses on contact between strangers or non-intimate others, the circumstances surrounding Portman’s change in attitudes represents a unique context for attitude change and contact with people representing different social groups--the context of family.

Families have and continue to be far more diverse than typically thought of in terms of diversity in ethnic, religious, political, and sexual identity (as well as many other identities) within the family.  Yet, we still continue to view families as groups of individuals with the same values, attitudes, beliefs, and identities. Unfortunately, little research and practice has focused on families as a site of contact with individuals form different groups. Yet, there are great possibilities in viewing the family in this manner.  Can  interactions with family member with different religious beliefs influence interfaith attitudes? How are attitudes toward aging shaped or changed by relationships with grandparents? Can views on issues related to ethnicity shift because of interethnic family relationships? In short, what are the potential benefits (and consequences) when “them” is actually one of “us?” As demonstrated in the case of Sen. Portman, attitudes can change not just toward the individual but also toward the group as a whole. However, this is not always the case. Perhaps family members accept each other simply because they are family. But, still see no dramatic change in more general attitudes toward the group. Or, unfortunately but by no means uncommon, family relationships may be detrimentally changed due to the recognition of different ethnic, religious, sexual, and many other identities that individuals simply cannot overcome. We know, for instance, that the Portman case is not representative of all families and parent-child relationships. In short, we should view families as both a “significant site for development and transformation of intergroup attitudes.” Under the right circumstances and through more personalized interactions, families hold great promise for improving intergroup relationships as they are a "more intimate group where discourse and dialogue can exist perhaps more easily than other contexts” (Rittenour & Soliz, 2012 in the Handbook of Intergroup Communication).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Join The Voice, a First-Year Learning Community!

We are very excited to be sponsoring a First-Year Learning Community this coming year. A Learning Community is a cohort of students who live together on the same residence hall floor and take some, but not all, of their classes together. TheVoice: Communicating for Social Change gives first year students who are interested in getting involved in the community an opportunity to live and work together. Many students find Learning Community membership to be one of the best parts of their first year because it’s a great way to meet new friends right away, connect with faculty and staff, and make a big university feel small! Start your story at NEBRASKA by being an inaugural member of this exciting community!

The Voice: Communicating for Social Change would be an especially good fit for anyone interested in volunteering, discussing controversial topics, or interested in a career in government, law, or non-profit organizations. As a member of this First-Year Learning Community, you would live on the same floor as other members of the community in Abel Hall.

Members of The Voice will take three courses together, including Public Advocacy and Civic Engagement, Rhetoric in a Digitally Networked Age, and Communication in the 21st Century (all of which will be ACE certified to help meet general education requirements). Each of these courses will focus on the central role of communication in solving society’s problems, how to advocate on behalf of a cause, and how to organize for social change. Although the Department of Communication Studies offers all of these courses, you do not have to be a Communication Studies major to be a member of The Voice.

Students will also be invited to exclusive events and activities, designed specifically for The Voice, such as meeting with visiting speakers and service projects. Such activities include:

*interacting with members of the traveling British Debate team after they participate in a public debate against members of UNL’s Speech and Debate Team. Each year, two representatives of the British debating community tour the United States. That trademark British wit will be on full display! 


*participate in the UNL-sponsored “Alternative Spring Break.” Each year, UNL organizes Alternative Spring Breaks—in 2012, students are rebuilding fence in Ainsworth, NE, helping Habitat for Humanity in Saint Louis, and building an urban garden in Denver. Participation in alternative spring break will be voluntary, but the costs are kept low and the rewards are high!

Students on Alternative Spring Break
*organize “flash forums” around breaking news. Learning Community members will help bring members of the UNL community together around pressing issues. If there is a civic issue that could benefit from community discussion, we will use social media to organize a “flash forum” (like a flash mob, but less weird) to spark conversation.

*we will also have some social activities like bowling and watching a movie together at the Mary Riepma Ross Theater.

Students can apply to be a member of a First-Year Learning Community on their Housing Contract, which is available within two weeks of when the UNL enrollment deposit is submitted. If students have already completed the Housing Contract, they can edit it to add a First-Year Learning Community preference. All contract edits and new contract submissions related to Learning Communities must be completed by April 1, 2013.

The faculty co-sponsors, Dr. Damien S.Pfister (dpfister2 [at] unl [dot] edu) and Dr. Carly S. Woods (cwoods3 [at] unl [dot] edu), would be happy to talk to any interested students about this opportunity. You can also learn more at unl.edu/learncom or contact Learning Communities staff with questions at learningcommunities [at] unl [dot] edu or (402) 472-7128.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spotlight on Research: Activism, Deliberation, and Networked Public Screens



The first part of the article creates “rhetorical scenes,” or dramatic vignettes which utilize a combination of fictional and non-fictional dialogue, protest observation, and auto-ethnographic reflection to highlight tensions between activism and deliberation in real-life scenes of rhetorical activity. The dramatization features three main characters: Anda (an advocate of militant, direct action activism), John (an advocate of discussion, debate, and consensus), and Dajuan (an undergraduate Occupy organizer who attempts to balance the competing perspectives of Anda and John). The play includes five scenes, including snapshots of the protests, the Occupy camp site, and even a heated discussion on Facebook.


Part 2 is a “footnote essay,” a more traditional academic contribution to rhetorical and media scholarship. First, we introduce the concept of “networked public screens” as a way of thinking through the contemporary interconnectedness of screens – from mobile phones, to laptops, pads, etc. – and how they interplay with the production and circulation of activist images. Second, we suggest that, while Occupy opened a moment for rethinking movement politics, the participants in the movement – perhaps constrained by terminology unable to attend to the uniqueness of the moment – tended to reposition it within traditional movement oppositions (e.g., material vs. online place, activism vs. deliberation, old vs. new social movements, and so on). Last, but not least, we outline the process of “constructing rhetorical scenes” as a novel methodology for rhetorical scholarship.

--Josh Ewalt with Damien Pfister