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Re-creating ‘A Creative Protest’

Posted on February 27, 2015 7:11 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

vMLK digital-humanities

The Virtual MLK Project will allow modern audiences to experience history at NC State's Hunt Library.

Fifty-five years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made a historic appeal.

Two weeks after black college students began conducting nonviolent sit-ins to protest segregation at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, King stood at the altar of a church in Durham and called for “a creative protest.” For the first time, he urged African-Americans to commit nonviolent civil disobedience, encouraging them to break unjust laws in pursuit of equality.

“Let us not fear going to jail,” he said at White Rock Baptist Church on Feb. 16, 1960. “If the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights, we must answer by saying that we are willing and prepared to fill up the jails of the South.”

“This speech is the first time King calls for nonviolent direct action,” says Victoria Gallagher, professor of communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

King’s sermon has been at risk of being lost to history. No recording of it exists, and the church itself was bulldozed in the late 1960s to make way for the Durham Freeway. Gallagher and a group of colleagues in the digital humanities launched the Virtual MLK project to resurrect the speech, giving modern listeners a chance to hear King’s words as 1,200 people heard the original address in 1960.

The project has three phases, Gallagher said at an exhibition Feb. 23 at the Hunt Library. The first was a recreation of the sermon last summer, with voice actor Marvin Blanks delivering King’s words at the rebuilt White Rock Baptist Church. Nearly 250 people attended the June 2014 event, including some who had heard the original sermon in 1960.

Gallagher and her team captured Blanks’ reading to feed the second phase of the project: a multimedia website combining archival photos with pictures, audio and video from the June 2014 recreation. The team placed microphones throughout the church to gather sound from several perspectives: just in front of the altar, deep in the church balcony and in the middle of the congregation.

In phase three, the sermon will come to life in a digital recreation incorporating the June 2014 sound and video, as well as three-dimensional renderings of the interior of the original White Rock Baptist Church sanctuary. The model for Gallagher’s vision is colleague John Wall’s reconstruction of a 17th-century John Donne sermon, which has been nominated for a Digital Humanities Award.

Once the Virtual MLK Project is finished, listeners will be able to stand in an architecturally accurate digital recreation of the old White Rock Baptist Church. They’ll be immersed in King’s speech, hearing it just as a child in the church balcony or an elderly woman in the front row did.

Interdisciplinary research projects such as Gallagher’s, Wall’s and a new effort to recreate Queen Victoria’s Buckingham Palace garden put NC State at the forefront of the digital humanities. They bring together faculty and students from English, architecture and computer science to recreate lost times and places, using cutting-edge technology and experiential education to enhance our understanding of history.

by Jimmy Ryals. This article first appeared at

A Day in a Different Life: Dean for a Day

Posted on February 26, 2015 10:42 am by Katie McCreary

Social work student Caterina Schenck was more than prepared to step into the Dean’s shoes for a day, but she didn’t imagine her first task would be so daunting. Schenck stepped boldly into the role as leader of  NC State's College of Humanities and Social Sciences by first attending a session with North Carolina’s top movers and shakers. She met with the head of the UNC System, the governor of North Carolina, key legislators and statewide leaders who gathered for an important education summit.

Dean for a Day Caterina Schenck stands with Tom Ross, president of the UNC system, and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson.

Dean for a Day Caterina Schenck stands with Tom Ross, president of the UNC system, and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson.

“I thought this would be a great way to start Dean Schenck's tenure as Dean for a Day," says Jeff Braden, who serves as dean of the college on other days. "I felt it would give her the opportunity to learn about some big issues--and meet some VIPs.”

The rest of Dean Schenck and student Braden’s switched schedules proved equally interesting and enlightening to them both. Braden attended Schenck’s classes and volunteered at the Red Cross while the new dean attended meetings, met with several department heads, and even attended a retirement party.  Here are their personal recollections from the day, edited for brevity and clarity.

Student Jeffery Braden’s Log

Dinner at La Shish 6:15 p.m.

  • After the Education Summit Caterina and I decide to head to one of my favorite Middle Eastern restaurants for an early dinner. Over a Lebanese platter, I learn about her life and realize it was a lot more challenging than my own. Better understanding the issues she faced deepens my appreciation of her ability to succeed in school and in her work. Her long-term goals (to get her BSW in Social Work and join the Air Force) strike me as remarkably similar to my father's life; he served in the Army Air Corps in WWII (there was no Air Force at that time) and then had a career as a social worker with the Veteran's Administration.
  • During our conversation, I broach the issue of friends at NC State. Caterina is frank: She doesn't have a lot of friends in her classes, as she tells me she's focused on academics, not socializing, when she goes to campus. However, she does share with me that her best friends are online; indeed, she is planning to fly to the West Coast over Spring Break to meet some of them face-to-face for the first time. I marvel at how utterly different my college experience was. Although I too was a reasonably serious student, college was my life--and since we had no computers, phones, or other media that didn't involve direct person-to-person communications, the only friends I had were ones I had seen face-to-face. It's a brave new world ... and I'm not entirely sure I'd be comfortable in it.

Waking up isn't hard to do: Staying asleep is! 5:32 a.m.

  • When I went to bed, I smiled to myself as I turned off my alarm. After all, my first obligation as a student for the day was to appear at class in Park Shops at 11:20 a.m. So, instead of my usual waking up at 5:30 a.m. so that I could finish my exercises, read the paper, and get in to work by 8:00 a.m., I relished the thought of sleeping in.
  • You can imagine my disappointment when my eyes opened and I turned to the clock to see: 5:34 a.m. I pulled up the covers, closed my eyes, but finally accepted the fact I was awake and crawled out of bed at 6:20. Sigh ... when I was young, waking up was hard. Now sleeping in is impossible!
  • Even though I am unable to sleep in, I am able to enjoy a few things I normally don't: light coming in the windows while I work out; Frank DeFord's piece on NPR; and sipping coffee and reading the paper with my wife. Normally, I'm out of the house before she's even awake; this is a treat I wish I could enjoy every day.

Class Bound: 10:55 a.m. Anthropology 252 with Raja Abillama

  • Getting to class is smooth, and I find myself seated outside in the hallway a good 20 minutes before class starts. I head in to get a seat well before the professor arrives. Once again, I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to sit in class and listen as an expert walks me through his or her area of expertise. Happily, the topic today (the intersection of language and culture) is one that, at one point in my life, occupied a lot of my interest.

Red Cross: 12:34 p.m.

  • I arrive at the Red Cross. Barry Potter, the director, welcomes me into his office. We talk for a bit--and by "We talk," I mean "I listen." I'm fascinated to learn what the Red Cross does, and compare it to what I think it does. As a regular apheresis donor for more than three decades, I'm quite familiar with their blood services; as a person who has seen a fair number of humanitarian tragedies over the years, I'm also familiar with their emergency relief efforts. What I didn't know was that every time there's a fire in North Carolina, it's not only the fire department that shows up: a team from the Red Cross is there, quietly offering shelter, food, clothing, and the emotional and financial support families need in crisis. What's even more amazing to me is that it happens four times a day in the eastern half of our state. As a psychologist, I often teach my classes about the "availability heuristic," which leads people to believe that events that get wide media coverage (i.e., are psychologically "available") are more common than those that do not. Because a fire in an individual house or apartment rarely gets the attention of a hurricane or tornado, it's easy to assume that the Red Cross responds to big disasters more often than small ones but it's clear that's not the case. I remind myself that the tragedy of losing a home happens many times every day, and I resolve to be sure to take that lesson to heart.
  • The Pillowcase Project teaches children disaster preparedness.  “I'm proud to pose with a pillowcase that illustrates the great work by our Dean for a Day," Braden said.
    The Pillowcase Project teaches children disaster preparedness. “I'm proud to pose with a pillowcase that illustrates the great work by our Dean for a Day," Braden said.

    I'm given a tour of the facility, and shown the outstanding work that Caterina does on the Pillowcase Project. Because they noticed children in crisis frequently carried their possessions in their pillowcases, the Red Cross proposed (and Disney funded) a project to teach children disaster preparedness by having them plan what they'd put in a pillowcase in the event of an emergency. Caterina has already prepared 800 workbooks and 700 pillowcases for distribution.

  • The tour of the facility concludes with a meeting in which the staff propose an internship between NC State and the Red Cross. They want a steady stream of interns who will be trained to work with families who lose their homes and their possessions to fire, and provide them with support and stability. This sounds like a great opportunity to realize our university's motto: Think and Do. I ask them to follow up with me when I get back to the office and my duties as dean!

D.H. Hill Library: 3:45 p.m.

  • I take a few minutes catch up with my journaling, and send pictures of my day before my last class. Thank goodness for mobile technologies!

Class bound: 4:25 p.m. Social Welfare Policy 307 with Hannah Allison

  • I'm the first one to enter the classroom, but others quickly stream in behind me. They expect me, and many introduce themselves. The instructor begins with a format familiar to me as a psychologist; checking in, breathing, and clearing the mind to focus on the class ahead.
  • Our first task is to define the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). I feel a little weird; I remember when it first passed Congress (during the Nixon administration), but I'd forgotten that it was signed into law by Ronald Regan. I enjoy the assignment, as I've always thought of it as one of the few social welfare programs that enjoyed (at least, until recently) support from conservatives and liberals. That conservatives no longer support it is an indication of how far to the right politics have shifted since the 70s and 80s... but now I'm just feeling old. All too soon, I realize I need to leave to get to a dinner that requires me to be a dean, not a student. So with a heavy heart, I bid adieu to the class and to my annual day of being a student.

Dean Caterina Schenck’s Log

Dean's Suite, Caldwell Hall - Arrival and Office Setup: 8:00 a.m.

  • The dean’s administrative team welcomed me and explained the roles each member plays related to finance, research, student services and more. I had not really imagined all of the complicated parts that make up the College of Humanities and Social Sciences—I did not know there were so many different behind-the-scenes positions.

1911 Building - Meet with Department Head of Social Work: 9:30 a.m.

Schenck's second meeting occurred in the 1911 building with Dept. Head of Social Work Karen Bullock.  After their meeting Schenck says,"it was truly a pleasure to meet with her."

Schenck's second meeting occurred in the 1911 building with Dept. Head of Social Work Karen Bullock. After their meeting Schenck says,"it was truly a pleasure to meet with her."

  • I met with my department head Karen Bullock, who was very pleased and impressed with the switch. She rushed me through the department offices, introducing me to each person available. I say “rushed” because she was trying to introduce me to everyone she could before our time ran out. She was very excited to have me as a representative for the Social Work department. It was truly a pleasure to meet with her—until now I had not had the opportunity. She informed me that I was the first social work student to serve as Dean for a Day.

Harrelson Hall: 10:30 a.m.

  • I met with Dr. Woody Catoe, Associate Director in the CDC (Career Development Center). He explained to me the resources and events they provide for students, even those who know what they want to be when they grow up. The CDC does more than help students figure out their futures. I was unaware of all that is offered at the CDC and I was very impressed by the thorough process—resumes, interviewing, organizing time and schedules, internships, and even current job listings are part of what the CDC offers. It is impressive to me because it’s more than just “career development”—it’s life development. The CDC even has an alumni program for students who have already graduated.

Development Office, Cox Hall:  11:00 a.m.

  • Next I met with the college’s Development staff. This team works on fundraising for the college. Fundraising, donations and gifts are essential to the college. For each donation or gift the college receives, an individualized and personal thank-you letter is written. This office organizes an annual luncheon for scholarship students within the college to meet – and thank – the donors who made those scholarships possible. I found this rather striking. I imagine it’s unusual for both parties to be introduced in such a way that focuses on the reality and lives involved with generosity and appreciation. On one hand, you have a group of people who want to provide students with an opportunity, who willingly give to strangers. On the other hand you have a group of students who might not even be in school if not for the donations and gifts that make up those scholarships. I imagine it is humbling for both sides.

Park Alumni Center -- Lunch with Advisory Board Members: noon

  • For lunch I met with a few members of the college advisory board. These ladies were very intriguing with their enormously different personalities. They explained a little to me about what they do for the college and some of the topics they advise the dean on. We dined at the Park Alumni Center on Centennial Campus. Until today I did not know NC State had such a building. It was similar to dining in an expensive hotel.

Holladay Hall -- Meet with NC State Vice Chancellor and Dean for Academic and Student Affairs: 2:00 p.m.

  • Next, I met with Mike Mullen, the university’s dean for academic and student affairs. With the help of some charts and PowerPoint slides, he explained the financial side of the college to me. This included annual income (through the state, donations, gifts, tuition, etc), and how it is spent. It was great to have the college’s finances thoroughly explained to me, as many students, including myself, are generally unaware of exact numbers/percentages/spending/budget/etc. A lot of the time students mistakenly assume how tuition is spent or why it is so seemingly high—even for in-state candidates. Having the opportunity to learn about the financial component really put expenses into perspective for me. Other than salaries for professors, we students do not think about the rest of the list that makes up the university’s spending.

Winslow Hall -- Retirement Party 3:00 p.m.

  • Hilda Renfrow has been the chancellor’s executive assistant and has worked at NC State for 19 years. I felt lucky to get to attend her retirement party. It was relaxing to have a break from running around to meetings, even if it was only for 30 minutes. Hilda was very sweet and informed me she has plans to travel (her party was Vegas-themed). I signed her going away picture, which will be framed. She was very well liked and admired by many faculty members.

Caldwell Hall -- Student Services/Academic Affairs Meeting: 3:45 p.m.

  • Back to the office, but not done with meetings. I met with Dara Leeder, Director of Recruitment and Retention, and Joe Johnson, Student Diversity Coordinator. We discussed community outreach, advertising, and a few other things. The college does not really have the man-power to network and advertise. Joe and Dara explained that using the acronym CHASS is problematic since most people outside of the college do not know what CHASS stands for. So the college is working on changing to just “Humanities and Social Sciences.” Even after I started school here, I was not entirely sure what it stood for until a few months into my first semester. My perspective, which I commented on, was not that the acronym is a problem; but rather the lack of advertising. I suggested that students, for example, could return to their old high schools and speak about the college during an assembly.

Caldwell Hall -- Meet with the Director of Communication: 4:30 p.m.

  • I carried these thoughts into my meeting with Lauren Kirkpatrick, the Director of Communication. I told her that I have looked for items to purchase that represented the college and I only found one rather boring t-shirt. I suggested that if more items were available to students, such as car window emblems and clothing that was specifically for our college, it might help outsiders know and understand who we are. Following the meeting, Lauren gave me a Humanities and Social Sciences t-shirt (not the one available through the university’s bookstore that I found previously) and a magnet. I appreciate these items as a student because I have pride in my college and would like the opportunity to present that pride to others who are not involved or known to the school.

Compiled and edited by Katie McCreary, communication intern

Point of View: Shooting Victims Left Students With Something to Stand For

Posted on February 19, 2015 3:10 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

More than 3,000 people gathered on the NC State brickyard to honor the three slain students.

More than 3,000 people gathered on the NC State brickyard to honor the three slain students.

This Point of View column by Katherine Kehoe, a sophomore English major,  appeared first in the Raleigh News and Observer on Feb. 17, 2015. Kehoe is news editor of Technician, NC State's student newspaper.

The sun had just set as thousands of classmates and friends of Deah Barakat; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, gathered on N.C. State’s campus last week. As the scene grew darker, it grew colder – ending about 34 degrees – with a rising wind-chill that left temperatures on the Brickyard feeling well below freezing.

Some attendees braved the cold dressed in full ski-gear. Others, being college students, were characteristically unprepared for the weather, opting for T-shirts and yoga pants instead of gloves and hats.

For us as a student body, these days have been emotional and overwhelming. Many of us traveled all over the Triangle to offer condolences to the families of the victims and to stand in solidarity with those affected by this tragedy. Many of us have stayed in, confused and angry, not knowing what it all means or where to go from here.

As a student journalist, it was my job to help cover the tragedy. From the moment I woke up last Wednesday until I finally went to bed late into the early morning, I was on the phone speaking with people who knew and loved the victims.

It was the most difficult piece I have ever had to write. I was assigned to go to the suspect’s hearing at 10:30 the morning after the shootings. Craig Stephen Hicks was there, dressed in orange, silent except to acknowledge that he understood the proceedings.

Five and a half hours later on the same day, I was in a room with Deah’s grieving parents and sister who had agreed to attend a news conference. I silently cursed reporters from both local and national outlets as they spewed unwelcome and culturally insensitive questions at his father to try to get better quotes. In the world of journalism, there is always competition to get the best story, but the lack of empathy and respect some reporters showed that day was shameful, and it haunted me throughout the rest of my writing process.

My newsroom is composed completely of students, most of whom had no journalism experience before joining the staff. It is an understatement to say we were all unprepared for what we had to do. There were breakdowns and fights and moments of learning how to cope under the pressure of an impending deadline. That night, we came together and produced a paper not as a staff but as a family.

All too often in the cases of student death in the age of social media, the tragedy has the tendency to become a spectacle. With no unifying cause, no message of love in times of senseless hate, the only way some students have to grieve together comes in the form of posting status updates on Facebook. Unfortunately, this can quickly begin to feel unsatisfying and insincere.

These three “winners,” as our fellow students have been dubbed, left us something to stand for. They were devout in their Muslim faith. They were people, and they had flaws, but throughout their lives they spread a message of love and giving to those in need. They didn’t deserve to die, and as a community we know the next step in honoring these people is fighting to keep senseless acts of hatred and violence from ending more lives and breaking more hearts.

At the Brickyard vigil, Deah’s sister, Suzanne, called for the crowd to raise up its hands in the symbol of the Wolfpack, and I felt closer to my school and to every person around me. The vigil’s solemn silence spoke to the profound effect the deaths of our classmates have already had on our community as a school. There was no talking, no texting, no snapchatting, no posting pictures to Facebook.

Every freezing gust of wind forced us closer to one another. We lost all feeling in our bodies, but we could feel the warmth in the voices of speakers urging us to celebrate their return to God rather than to mourn their departure from a world filled with evil. We stood with red faces and numb hands, ready to embrace peace, one of the root meanings of the word Islam, together as members of the Wolfpack.

Creating a Buzz on and off Campus

Posted on February 16, 2015 11:51 am by Katie McCreary

Beekeeper and entrepreneur Leigh-Kathryn Bonner

Beekeeper and entrepreneur Leigh-Kathryn Bonner

Senior Leigh-Kathryn Bonner created quite a buzz with the nonprofit she founded - literally. Bonner’s organization Bee Downtown  has over 120,000 bees in various observation hives and has recently partnered with Burt’s Bees to open the state’s largest observation hive at Durham's American Tobacco Campus.

The nonprofit’s purpose is to educate the community about the global concern regarding the drop in honeybee population due to Colony Collapse Disorder. The effects of this shortage affect the population worldwide. “Every third bite we eat comes from a honeybee,” says Bonner. “We need to dispel misconceptions and educate the public about the importance of honeybees.”

Bonner has developed this project throughout her undergraduate career as an International Studies and Spanish major with a minor in Nonprofit Studies. Her personal background has fed her passion as well: she is a third-generation beekeeper.

Bee Downtown works to spread awareness and educate locals about urban beekeeping. "We want to make our hives accessible to people of all interests and ages," says Bonner. She insists there's nothing to fear from honeybees because most stings come from other bees. “Honeybees are docile. If they sting you, they will die.”

The launch of the nonprofit was a collaborative process that involved NC State’s Institute for Nonprofits  and its entrepreneurship initiative, the Department of Entomology and the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering. Bonner hopes to expand the project.

Read local coverage about Bee Downtown here.

By Katie McCreary, communication intern

Student Researches Electronic Music Subcultures, Immigrant Treatment

Posted on February 11, 2015 7:24 am by dlleeder

Research can deepen students' passion for a subject, challenging them to search for answers to complex questions. It permits students to be creators of knowledge, and not simply recipients of past ideas. This Q&A series explores the role research can play for Humanities and Social Sciences undergraduates.

Student researcher Shelby Coury

Student researcher Shelby Coury

Shelby Coury, a senior double majoring in sociology and anthropology, and minoring in Spanish, has participated in two research projects.

What sparked your interest in research?

My “Deserving Migrants” research arose because my husband is an immigrant, and I am connected to the Hispanic community through him and my Spanish minor. I’m also interested in inequality and advocating for marginalized groups. But I never would have started this project if not for co-author Emily Estrada [a lecturer and sociology doctoral student]. I studied amnesty in her International Development class and when I asked about research opportunities, she suggested this. I had an interest in the subject and had previously worked analyzing newspaper articles - it was the perfect fit.

My work on electronic dance music (EDM) subculture came from a Theories of Social Interaction class, where I learned about subcultures, their group goals and how they become their own groups. I had attended large EDM shows (raves), and immediately identified the attendants as having their own set of norms in dress, behavior and possibly worldview, which was fascinating to me. So I reached out to my professor Michaela DeSoucey, and she offered to mentor me through the process of writing an ethnography on EDM subculture.

Tell us more about the research.

The Deserving Migrants project is a frame study of representations of immigrants in the New York Times between 2001-12. Emily Estrada and graduate student Emily Cabaniss brought me on as co-author. We found very interesting frames associated with immigrants, such as "family-oriented," "hard-workers," or "victims," and analyzed whether the frames were viewed positively or negatively. We presented preliminary results at the 2014 Southern Sociological Society annual meeting, and hope to turn it into a published journal article.

For the EDM project, I wrote an ethnography using participant observation and semi-structured interviewing to answer these questions:

  • Is EDM a subculture?
  • What are the norms of the potential subculture?
  • How does one become an “authentic” member of the subculture?

So far, I have written a 25-page paper of preliminary findings. I discuss norms, the importance of peer groups for initial involvement in the subculture and the performance of authenticity as a member of the group. I hope to produce a solid research paper for publication.

How does your research relate to your major, career goals and personal interests?

The immigrant research relates to my sociology major and Spanish minor. I study inequality in sociology, more specifically the social mechanisms that keep certain groups at a disadvantage. How our country’s most read and credible newspaper frames immigrants is a huge mechanism for maintaining inequality. Hopefully, my research team and I can identify and dissect these frames to help break down the inequality.

My EDM research does not connect directly to my interests. However, it has been a major learning experience that will benefit any future research during graduate school.

 What have you learned?

I learned to work with others toward a common goal, discovered that research is difficult and lengthy, and found that you have to stick to a goal when things get hard, even if that means adjusting plans. Additionally, I learned how to find research participants, how to get IRB approval, how to create a consent form, and how to present in front of people who are more experienced. I also realized that I am capable of these things! Without these experiences, I would certainly not be as prepared for the workforce or for graduate school.

What were some of the challenges?

For the immigrant research, the biggest challenge was coordinating meetings and research between three very busy people, and agreeing on the proper methodology or interpretation when we have different perspectives. However, this can also be advantageous because it allows for a more in depth and holistic analysis.

For the EDM project, I had numerous challenges, such as finding time to research, interviewees to participate and money to attend the concerts. I struggled to create a grounded theory and to search for resources on my own.

What have some of the rewards been?

I enjoyed outside recognition of my work, such as being featured on the NC State Anthropology and Sociology Facebook page, and earning a Humanities and Social Sciences Undergraduate Research award. However, my real rewards have been the knowledge I gained through the research and through the experience of doing research. I made invaluable contacts in my department and at other schools. I gained confidence in myself, my intelligence and my ability to conduct research.