NEW ON THE HILL
CHANGES IN THE COLLEGE
BRINGING THE FAR EAST To BEACON HILL TEXT/M.J. MADDEN The College has embarked on an intellectual sojourn to Asia. Beginning with the fall 2009 semester,
Faculty members of the Asian Studies Committee
students now have the opportunity to major or minor in Asian Studies. The Asian studies major is an interdisciplinary program that offers courses in the humanities and social sciences with a focus on Asian societies and nations, including Japan, India, Hong Kong, China, and Korea. Developed in concert with the Rosenberg Institute for East Asian Studies, the program extends its focus to the wider region. “While East Asia is extremely important, the College also has faculty who specialize in South Asia and Southeast Asia. We decided to include all of Asia so we could fully utilize the expertise of the faculty and support the interests of our students,” says English professor and Asian Studies director Da Zheng. Students majoring in the program with sufficient language training can enter the fields of journalism, international affairs, finance, banking, business, and law, as well as qualify for foreign service positions and work as consultants and translators for government agencies. The Asian Studies minor is available to students in other majors. “A minor could well suit a variety of students in history, government, or sociology, and even business majors who may want to have a career connected to Asia, “ says Zheng.
SOCIAL INFORMATICS: RIDING THE DIGITAL WAVE TEXT/AMANDA JAHNKE Facebook. Twitter. Flickr. Wiki. Blog.
Emoticon. Some people can’t imagine life without them; for others, the words alone cause panic. Regardless of where one falls on the spectrum, there’s no denying the impact that new communication tools and technologies have had on society. While many work feverishly just to keep up, few have actually taken the time to examine the new hyperconnected world of instantaneous communication. One individual who recognizes the need to understand the impact and consequences of new technologies on society is Dmitry Zinoviev. A professor of mathematics and computer science for more than nine years, Zinoviev has developed a new undergraduate minor that fuses elements of both hard and soft sciences—social informatics. Offered at only a handful of institutions worldwide, social informatics is a growing field that examines the influence of new technologies and digital communities on social interaction and the human psyche. “Just imagine you’re a psychologist working with a patient over the Internet; how can you
enhance the experience? You need to understand your audience and technology. That’s social informatics at work,” explains Zinoviev. Zinoviev recognizes the benefits of a solid foundation in new technologies for anyone headed into the workforce or advanced education, and he has tailored the program accordingly, offering courses in Web page programming, formal logic, technology and society, new media and new markets, geographical information systems, cyberpsychology, e-governance, and digital gaming. Students learn to navigate the interactive landscape relevant to their areas of expertise, making the minor an ideal complement to communication, political science, environmental studies, journalism, psychology, or sociology majors. “Microsoft recently opened a research center in Cambridge, which would be an excellent venue for students in the social informatics program,” says the professor. “But there are so many areas they could pursue beyond that as well; the options are just limitless.”
Math and Computer Science Associate Professor Dmitry Zinoviev