Intellectual Themes Projects Selected in Third Round

November 24, 2016

CEU has awarded funding to five projects in the third round of the University-wide Intellectual Themes Initiative (ITI). This institutional endeavor at CEU, launched in fall 2015, aims to promote exploring and developing new activities that encourage cross-disciplinary teaching and research, prompt new forms of civic engagement, enhance the academic profile of CEU and contribute to shaping its future institutional direction. The initiative supports projects for up to four years across four cross-cutting intellectual themes, namely Energy, Social Mind, Inequalities of Social Justice, and Governance. 

In this round, the ITI selection committee received project proposals covering three of the four themes of the initiative and involving 74 CEU faculty, students and staff. The ITI Selection Committee decided to support four new projects and to extend the support for a previously approved project.

The Intellectual Themes Initiative will continue supporting cross-disciplinary projects at CEU. The next deadline for applications is April 28, 2017.

The newly supported projects are presented below.

Sound Relations: Transgressions, Disruptions, Transformations

Project team

Helga Dorner, Center for Teaching and Learning; Cameran Ashraf, School of Public Policy; Jeremy Braverman, CEU Library Media Lab; Alexandra Kowalski, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology; Andrea Peto, Department of Gender Studies; Eva Bognar, Center for Media, Data and Society; Marius Dragomir, Center for Media, Data and Society; Dumitrita Holdis, Center for Media, Data and Society; Ian M. Cook, Center for Media, Data and Society; Sara Swerdlyk, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology; Tamas Kiss, Department of Medieval Studies; Jessie Labov, Center for Media, Data and Society; Sara Svensson, School of Public Policy; Csaba Szilagyi, Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives.

Project description
Whether as a method, a medium, or as a way of mediating knowledge sound has the ability to transgress disciplinary boundaries, disrupt ways of knowing that have been overly reliant on sight, and transform the ways in which academia is practiced, both inside and outside the university. The study of sounds, application of sound-based methodologies and creation of sonic outputs is not only a fascinating, transdisciplinary and growing academic field, but one that can inform, and be informed by, the ways we teach, learn and create within the university setting. Sound Relations will harness sound’s transformative potential with a two-year-long series of interdisciplinary activities by faculty, students and researchers to produce original research; equip CEU students, researchers and faculty with the ability to use sound in their teaching, learning and research; and disseminate CEU’s exceptional research output via open access sonic media. Planned activities include courses on academic podcasting and sound studies, sound-informed research projects, adaptation of classroom teaching practices and the sharing of best practices. This will result in the launch of CEU’s podcast library, a series of new podcasts, a handful of published articles and ongoing experimentation with further sonic outputs. As such, the project will have transformative impacts throughout the university, foregrounding sound as a method of inquiry, mode of reflection and extension of research agendas across departments; engendering blended teaching practices; extending the outreach efforts of the university; and creating a community of sound-enabled scholars.

Journalism and Social Change in Historical Perspective

Project team

Matthias Riedl, Department of History; Dean Starkman, School of Public Policy; Marsha Siefert, Department of History; Alfred Rieber, Department of History; Charles Shaw, Department of History; Andras Mink, Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives; Michael Miller, Nationalism Studies Program; Marius Dragomir, Center for Media, Data and Society.

Project description

The project will organize a university-wide 2-credit elective interdisciplinary course on journalism and social change led by the History Department and the School of Public Policy (SPP). The course is conceived of as a platform to further investigate the unique relationship between history and journalism. In a very real sense, journalism shapes the body of sources available to historians. Contemporary historians in particular, depend to a large degree on journalistic source materials as their gateway into the past: what might be called the “first draft” of history. Besides providing students with a platform to engage with journalism as a profession, students will also be able to explore and better understand the dynamic ways in which journalism engages and to a large extent, structures the public sphere. Additionally, journalists themselves will be given the opportunity to reflect critically on their own discipline, the role it has played in the past as well as its future. The course will draw on the work of a number of journalists’ who will be a part of this course, including Dean Starkman and Richard Bassett, as well as the holdings of the Open Society Archives (OSA), an archive largely built on journalism.

Open Course: Social Justice Frameworks in Action

Project team

Tamara Steger, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy; Marie-Pierre Granger, School of Public Policy/ Department of International Relations/ Department of Legal Studies; Michael Dorsch, School of Public Policy; Helga Dorner, Center for Teaching and Learning.

Project description

This project will launch the design and test-run of a four credit course entitled, “Social Justice Frameworks in Action”. The purpose of it is two-fold. First, it brings together faculty (and doctoral students) across disciplines in a mutually informative exercise whereby competing definitions and varied ideological perspectives on social justice culminate in an effective learning forum. And, second, it provides masters students with critical frameworks for addressing worldly issues with social justice as a core problematique.

The preliminary skeletal model for the course engages interested masters students in a collective forum to gain a common knowledge base on the multi-theoretical concept of social justice in light of a particular public policy context (e.g., housing or education) or topic (e.g., refugees or climate change). This forum is complemented by student teamwork, collectively known as the “social justice lab”, with the support of optional tutorials to fill in prerequisite knowledge gaps where needed. Lab work focuses on project development mentored by the core faculty (and doctoral student teaching assistants) who systematically rotate across the individual teams to infuse each project with an inter-disciplinary chemistry. The culmination of the collective forum and lab work (plus optional tutorials) will be team project deliverables and outreach whereby students share their work with each other and the wider community.

Just Data

Project team

Karoly Boroczky, Department of Mathematics and Its Applications; Roberta Sinatra, Department of Mathematics and Its Applications; Anand Murugesan, School of Public Policy; Miklos Koren, Department of Economics; Caterina Sganga, Department of Legal Studies; Tibor Tajti, Department of Legal Studies; Chrys Margaritidis, Dean of Students.

Project description

The big data revolution evokes utopistic thoughts of a more inclusive, more just society, where businesses and governments use data to better serve citizens. Data itself, however, is neither just nor unjust. Access to data and use of data are what determine its societal value. The project has three components. Part one includes the study of how algorithms and access to data can increase rather than decrease social inequality. Part two studies transparency and responsibility in the age of big data. Part three studies how big data can inform research on big societal questions.

The added-value of this complex project resides, on one hand, in its highly interdisciplinary and educational, yet academic nature, making it a project of interest for the entire CEU community which is able to reunite people from several departments, with different academic backgrounds (including PhD and master students), and with different levels of experience, and on the other hand in its potential innovative and disruptive methods and results, by bringing important contributions and thus advancing the current knowledge on the still fresh topic of big data, which will have long term effects on all stakeholders involved.

Open Learning Initiative - Weekend Program

Project team

Prem Kumar Rajaram, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology; David Ridout, Academic Writing Center; Violetta Zentai, Center for Policy Studies.

Project description

The Open Learning Initiative - Weekend Program is a program of courses for refugees and asylum seekers in Hungary that has been running since January 2016. The program runs term-long courses for up to 45 students every term. There are three course strands: (1) academic courses - focusing on university preparation tutorials and academic seminars, (2) English teaching - taught at 5 levels (basic, elementary, lower intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced) and (3) training courses - these include courses on careers training, a short guide to Hungary, a course on setting up businesses in Hungary and theatre and film making workshops. The aim of the project is to assist the ‘integration’ of refugees and asylum seekers into the social and economic spheres in Hungary.