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Provost’s symposia winners named

Four awards have been granted by the Provost’s Inter/Multidisciplinary Symposia 2008 program.

"Culture and Conflict: Do They Need Each Other?” was submitted by Howard G. Brown, professor of history.

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the heuristic value of the concept “culture” in explaining conflict.

First, can the concept “culture” be defined in a sufficiently rigorous manner to make it the subject of social scientific analysis or must it be eschewed as obfuscatory and replaced with factors that are more easily specified, such as religion, political system, race, ethnicity, income levels or social mobility?

Second, few scholars would seek to disprove the significance of conflict in reifying social differences. In this sense, the durability of cultural difference is often determined by both past and present conflict with an “other,” however defined. But how should scholars determine the importance of conflict in the maintenance of cultural differences, especially in comparison to the strength of other factors ranging from language to commerce?.

Third, and perhaps even m

ore important, if “culture” can be defined rigorously, can its role in provoking conflict be established? Clearly the exploitation of differences by ambitious and bellicose political leaders in one instance can contrast markedly with a clear determination to downplay differences for the sake of enhancing commercial relationships in another. But how are reliable assessments of the sources of these obvious differences to be made?.

“The Binghamton Neighborhood Project: Interdisciplinary Community Based Research” was submitted by Pamela A. Mischen, assistant professor of public administration.

The purpose of the proposed symposium is to highlight the accomplishments of the Binghamton Neighborhood Project, an interdisciplinary research project conducted by the Evolutionary Studies Program, the Center for Applied Community Research and Development and the Collective Dynamics of Complex Systems Research Group.

BNP researchers have been working on a number of projects that have grown out of the collection of data from about 2,000 Binghamton City School District students via a Development Assets Profile. Using a process called kriging, and in conjunctio

n with the Geographic Information Systems Lab, these data were analyzed spatially and combined with a number of other indicators, such as juvenile crime, provided by local organizations. Together, these data produced maps showing how various measures of social capital correspond to community level outcomes.

The research conducted advances both basic knowledge concerning the causes and effects of prosocial behaviors, as well as provides important spatial analysis to local government and other community level organizations.

Because of the complex nature of social problems, an interdisciplinary focus is required. Additionally, the theories brought to bear on the analysis of the data — evolutionary theory, complexity theory and social network analysis — are themselves interdisciplinary in focus.

“Modern Directions in Global Information Technology” was submitted by Victor Skormin, distinguished service professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

In response to a request for proposals issued by the National Science Foundation, a group of Binghamton University researchers submitted a pre-proposal titled “ERC: International Center f

or Global Information Technology.” It outlined plans for establishing an Engineering Research Center at Binghamton that would promote, spearhead and coordinate research in the areas of collection, processing, storing, transmitting, retrieving and protecting information in global information systems of the 21st century.

The proposed center would be a collaborative venture involving regional, national and international partners (Lockheed Martin, Rome Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Kansas, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Texas State University, California Polytechnic State University, University of Memphis, Renmin University in Beijing, University of Electro-Communications in Japan, and Czech Technical University of Prague).

The proposed symposium, Modern Directions in Global Information Technology, will provide an ideal forum to continue the interaction among the partners of the proposing team aimed at refining the proposal, addressing the comments of the reviewers, addressing the state-of-the-art in relevant research and developing the strategies for writing a winning proposal. In addition, the symposium will promote the advanced issues in Global Infor

mation Technologies at the local arena.

“Academia and Industry: A Dynamic and Iterative Cycle” was submitted by Hari Srihari, distinguished professor of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering.

While the primary purpose of engineering education is the effective transmission of knowledge, there often exists a gap between the knowledge taught in class and the needs of industry. Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE), an Institute for Advanced Studies at Binghamton University, focuses on research that benefits both industry and students. With a broad set of industrial research partners, ranging from the electronics packaging domain through health care management and food distribution, WISE finds cost-competitive ways to provide valuable research to businesses while concurrently offering students a top-flight education.

Given the growing debate around the nature of knowledge development and transfer and the role of universities within it, we believe that it is time to explore and debate how education can better serve industry and the economy, and how industrial experience and exposure complements and provides feedback to academia.


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Last Updated: 10/14/08