Faculty Success Stories: December 2017
It’s official: the 2017–2018 Wilson Faculty Fellows have been announced! Three faculty from Dyson and one from Seidenberg are hard at work on their research projects.
The Helene and Grant Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce the 2017–2018 Wilson Faculty Fellows. Each fellow will receive an award of $5,000 to work on a research project that advances the identification and analysis of immediate issues facing nonprofits and social enterprises. Fellows are required to engage current Pace students in their research.
The 2017–2018 Wilson Center Faculty Fellows are:
- >> Daniel Bender, PhD, Associate Professor, English and Modern Languages, Dyson
- >> Matthew Bolton, PhD, Associate Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Dyson
- >> Brice Particelli, PhD, Associate Chair and Lecturer, Department of English, Dyson
- >> Namchul Shin, PhD, Professor, Information Technology, Seidenberg
Bender’s collaborative research project, Democracy Entrepreneurs, extends his study of social systems that encourage or inhibit the agency of ordinary citizens as distinct from political elites. The investigation will be guided by a seminal question: to what extent can citizens be heard by policymakers and public officials and thus take part in democratic process?
“I am grateful to the Wilson Center for the grant, as well as my former Chair, Bette Kirschstein, who agreed that literature might be politics by other means,” Bender told us. “This grant will allow me to work with four to eight Pace students on public issues where student-citizens often fear to tread: fair taxation, education-friendly student loans, the electoral college versus the popular vote, and state and federal encouragement of third-party candidates. The main purpose of Democracy Entrepreneurs is measurement: can an English professor and a group of Pace students create effective reforms that are then heard by elected officials? Stipends for the four democracy projects have not been finalized, so please contact me by email if you are interested.”
Bolton’s project will focus on a number of nonprofit organizations throughout the Pacific Island nations that have provided health and educational services mitigating the harm of nuclear weapons testing while also pushing governments to better provide assistance to victims and remediate contaminated environments. In particular, nonprofit organizations and diplomats from this region have played an integral role in advocating for the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, recently adopted by the United Nations in June 2017.
“The treaty is a really interesting one,” Bolton told Opportunitas. “It’s the first international treaty on nuclear weapons that mentions human rights, gender, and the particular impact on indigenous peoples. The negotiations started from the point of view that governments don’t stop using weapons until they are stigmatized, until officials think that’s not what good people do, that’s not the sort of thing good people engage in.”
Bolton’s research will involve ethnographic participant observation in advocacy efforts, both at the UN in New York and also through field studies to see the work of nonprofit organizations in Pacific Island nations. In conducting his research, Bolton will observe the activities of nonprofits at work, process-tracing of their impact on policy through organizational archival research and interviews with key informants.
Particelli’s research will focus on how social enterprises utilize culturally coded and embedded understandings of genre to connect to audiences. He has begun his work on an analysis of the genres surrounding the controversial Creation Museum, a nonprofit that uses selective scientific research, rhetoric, and genres to support their claim that the Earth was created on October 24, 4004 B.C. While this idea sits on the outskirts of scientific research and consensus, it has deep influence on science education and local school curriculum.
In his research, Particelli hopes to learn how an outlier to the scientific and educational communities utilizes existing genre systems to affect science education. Through his course Introduction to Genre Studies, Particelli plans to engage his students and their own case studies based around this question of how outliers or challengers to a system use genre to influence social causes. He plans to develop an analytical approach based within Rhetorical Genre Studies and Activity Theory that will help both science educators and writing studies scholars explore these kinds of outliers through genre and rhetorical study. Additionally, it will allow science educators and museum staff to better understand how genre plays a role in their field.
Shin’s research project will empirically examine how nonprofit organizations create value for their use of the internet, with a focus on the web and social media. For his project, Shin will engage three Pace students to support the research process by collecting and organizing various data for the construction of a database combining two sources that will provide him with the top 100 nonprofits on the web, based on web traction and the top 100 nonprofits based on revenue. The internet is increasingly used by nonprofits to communicate with the public and increase charitable giving. In a market with increased competition, greater demand for services, and fewer resources, nonprofit organizations need diverse ways of achieving their social goals.
“Creating economic value from the use of information technology has long been an issue in the corporate world,” Shin explained. “However, it hasn’t been researched for nonprofit organizations while the nonprofit sector continues to grow and competitive pressure increases. According to Independent Sector (2016), the nonprofit sector is the third-largest workforce in the US behind retail and manufacturing. It contributed an estimated $937.7 billion to the US economy in 2014, which made up 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (McKeever and Gaddy, 2016).”
Shin added that his research will hopefully “add new knowledge to the literature on nonprofits, which will lead to better understanding of IT value in the nonprofit sector.”
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