skip to main content

Title: Learning to Be Astonished
We’re often taught to think of science and the humanities as discrete fields, with the former full of definite truths and the latter open to interpretation. But is that really the case? Lincoln Carr explains how he’s helping science students use the ambiguity essential to the humanities to become better researchers.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Physics world
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Building science gateways for humanities content poses new challenges to the science gateway community. Compared with science gateways devoted to scientific content, humanities-related projects usually require 1) processing data in various formats, such as text, image, video, etc., 2) constant public access from a broad audience, and therefore 3) reliable security, ideally with low maintenance. Many traditional science gateways are monolithic in design, which makes them easier to write, but they can be computationally inefficient when integrated with numerous scientific packages for data capture and pipeline processing. Since these packages tend to be single-threaded or nonmodular, they can create trafficmore »bottlenecks when processing large numbers of requests. Moreover, these science gateways are usually challenging to resume development on due to long gaps between funding periods and the aging of the integrated scientific packages. In this paper, we study the problem of building science gateways for humanities projects by developing a service-based architecture, and present two such science gateways: the Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) – a science gateway focusing on image analysis for digital surrogates of historical motion picture film, and SnowVision - a science gateway for studying pottery fragments in southeastern North America. For each science gateway, we present an overview of the background of the projects, and some unique challenges in their design and implementation. These two science gateways are deployed on XSEDE’s Jetstream academic clouding computing resource and are accessed through web interfaces. Apache Airavata middleware is used to manage the interactions between the web interface and the deep-learning-based (DL) backend service running on the Bridges graphics processing unit (GPU) cluster.« less
  2. With computing impacting most every professional field, it has become essential to provide pathways for students other than those majoring in computer science to acquire computing knowledge and skills. Virtually all employers and graduate and professional schools seek these skills in their employees or students, regardless of discipline. Academia currently leans towards approaches such as double majors or combined majors between computer science and other non-CS disciplines, commonly referred to as “CS+X” programs. These programs tend to require rigorous courses gleaned from the institutions’ courses for computer science majors. Thus, they may not meet the needs of majors in disciplinesmore »such as the social and biological sciences, humanities, and others. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is taking an approach more suitably termed “X+CS” to fulfill the computing needs of non-CS majors. As part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, we are developing a “computing” minor specifically to meet their needs. To date, we have piloted the first two of the minor’s approximately six courses. The first is a variation on the existing Computer Science I course required for majors but restricted to nonmajors. Both versions of the course use the Python language and cover the same programming content, but with the non-majors assigned projects with relevance to non-CS disciplines. We use the same student assessment measures of homework, projects, and examinations for both courses. After four semesters, results show that non-CS majors perform comparably to majors. Students also express increased interest in computing and satisfaction with being part of a non- CS major cohort. The second course was piloted in fall 2019. It is a new course intended to enhance and hone programming skills and introduce topics such as web scraping, HTML and CSS, web application development, data formats, and database use. Students again express increased interest in computing and were already beginning to apply the computing skills that they were learning to their non-CS courses. As a welcome side effect, we experienced a significant increase in the number of women and under-represented minorities (URMs) in these two courses when compared with CS-major specific courses. Overall, women comprised 52% of the population, with URMs following a similar upward trend. We are currently developing the third course in the computing minor and exploring options for the remaining three. Possibilities include electives from our Information Systems major. We will also be working with our science, social science, and humanities departments to utilize existing courses in those disciplines that apply computing. The student response that we have received thus far provides us with evidence that our computing minor will be popular among UMBC’s non-CS population, providing them with a more suitable and positive computing education than existing CS+X efforts.« less
  3. The discipline of the humanities has long been inseparable from the exploration of space and time. With the rapid advancement of digitization, databases, and data science, humanities research is making greater use of quantitative spatiotemporal analysis and visualization. In response to this trend, our team developed the Chinese academic map publishing platform (AMAP) with the aim of supporting the digital humanities from a Chinese perspective. In compiling materials mined from China’s historical records, AMAP attempts to reconstruct the geographical distribution of entities including people, activities, and events, using places to connect these historical objects through time. This project marks themore »beginning of the development of a comprehensive database and visualization system to support humanities scholarship in China, and aims to facilitate the accumulation of spatiotemporal datasets, support multi-faceted queries, and provide integrated visualization tools. The software itself is built on Harvard’s WorldMap codebase, with enhancements which include improved support for Asian projections, support for Chinese encodings, the ability to handle long text attributes, feature level search, and mobile application support. The goal of AMAP is to make Chinese historical data more accessible, while cultivating collaborative opensource software development.« less
  4. Abstract Sense of place describes both affective and cognitive — emotional and intellectual — connections to place. Affective outcomes, tied to arts and humanities education, can facilitate these connections. But little research explores environmental science, arts and humanities (eSAH) curricula on place relationships. Additionally, most research on the sense of place focuses on repeated visits to a place over time, rather than short-term experiences like a field trip. Finally, digital technology is a growing trend across science education, but little research investigates its use in field-based contexts. Our research begins to address these gaps. This article describes an eSAH fieldmore »trip for middle and high school learners. Using a conventional content analysis, we present pilot data from two high school field trips. Our findings illuminate a framework for understanding active and passive place relationships in the context of short-term interdisciplinary field learning experiences.« less
  5. Promoting Students Engaging In Scientific and Mathematical Interdisciplinary Collaborations (SEISMIC) requires careful thought. At Bridgewater State University, teams of SEISMIC Scholars are supported by an NSF S-STEM grant for low-income, academically talent STEM majors. SEISMIC Scholars engage throughout a three-year period in a series of humanities, social-science, service learning and STEM research courses that explicitly help Scholars frame their studies of Science and Mathematics as socially relevant and fundamentally interdisciplinary. This poster will report on the structure of the SEISMIC courses, providing examples of assignments and activities, all of which help to tie students together in a community that viewsmore »Science as socially relevant and culturally informed.« less