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Archive for Monday, August 20, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Hall Center grant funds interdisciplinary research; KU looking for ways to encourage collaboration; University Daily Kansan unveils new website

August 20, 2012

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Your first-day-of-school dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• A grant from the Hall Center for the Humanities will support one of those nice research projects that fit the buzzword of the day in higher education: “interdisciplinary.”

The Hall Center’s 2012 Collaborative Research Seed Grant went to a group of KU researchers who will study musical improvisation and its role in forming sites of community among mixed-ability participants, according to a KU statement.

The group of researchers will use something called the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, which apparently uses computer software to adapt to all kinds of bodies and abilities, with all users equally able to perform on the instrument.

The research involves KU faculty members Sherrie Tucker, American studies; Michelle Heffner Hayes, dance; Nicole Hodges Persley, theater; and Kip Haaheim, music. An outside collaborator, Pauline Oliveros, of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, developed the instrument.

The study will focus on community-forming in a way that does not exclude a variety of people, including, for example, people who are nonverbal and people whose motions are involuntary.

• The Hall Center’s seed grant is just one way KU is striving to focus on this new interdisciplinary research.

Another focus is on creating space for researchers to engage with each other, to get these kinds of conversations started.

As I was touring around the new engineering building last week, I noticed the focus on common spaces. One area will feature couches and chairs, and a wall was painted to serve as a white board. Administrators hope the area will be filled with equations, doodles and other remnants of the creative process.

My tour guide also mentioned that some of the tables in the common areas of the new building would have sheets of paper for tabletops. That means two people sitting down can literally draw on the table and then rip off the sheet of paper and take it with them.

And according to another conversation I had with a member of university governance, very preliminary discussions are taking place there that have expressed interest in a new faculty lounge on campus.

The person mentioned it was something that other universities had that KU didn’t. He mentioned the University of Washington, specifically, and I believe he was referring to this space. (And yes, the one in Washington serves alcohol).

The idea, however, was more on creating an inviting place that faculty would actually want to go to in order to get conversations started and connections made that might lead to better research projects down the line.

As I said, though, it’s still in the very preliminary stages, and there are a lot of details that need to be worked out.

• You should check out the new Kansan.com website for the student newspaper, as it got a nice facelift over the summer.

The new site is better streamlined for mobile use, the crazy wacky Free for All is now plugged into Facebook and Twitter and there’s a whole bunch more, which you can discover here.

They say they’ve got a .PDF flipbook archive for nearly every issue since 2003, so I hope you can enjoy the many fine Andy Hyland articles from around 2004 and 2005.

One quote I noticed came from a story on an event in Prairie Village that drew “thousands” of fans. The event featured speeches from the KU chancellor, football coach Charlie Weis and basketball coach Bill Self.

Weis mentioned that the season starts with three home games, according to the article.

“And if you’re leaving at halftime, you and I are going to get into a fist fight,” Weis said.

• You and I are going to get into a fist fight, too, if you don’t start sending me tips for Heard on the Hill to ahyland@ljworld.com.

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