Transduction sessions were delocalized across Grounds, providing participants with a chance to experience the physical spaces of different fields.  On April 1 we visited the Great Hall of the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, where Sophie Trawalter is a professor, along with her joint appointment in Psychology to discuss Social Signal Transduction.

After considering visceral responses to land, objects and physical spaces through the notion of contagion, we learned about how people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, gender and racial groups occupy space differently. Examples were given from sites around Grounds. We learned that first impressions about status are often correct and that open stances vs closed ones, the extent to which people spread out, signal comfort in environments. We were surprised to hear that the median family income at UVA is higher than at most Ivy League schools and that some students thought they had to pay to go into the Rotunda, so never felt comfortable going there or studying there. This saddened many Transduction team members, who wished there could be better ways to be hospitable and make people feel welcome at UVA. We also learned how for many African Americans, the architecture at UVA, Darden in particular, signals slavery and plantations and how community members are not always comfortable at UVA, some actually referring to the university as “the plantation.” Prof. Frank Dukes, our second speaker for the day, offered examples given his leadership roles in UCARE.

From Frank Dukes, Urban Planning and Director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation, we also learned about productive forms of public speech, less productive forms of discourse, environmental negotiation and community action. We engaged in a listening exercise to experience for ourselves the benefits of carefully listening to two sides of an argument.

Transduction built new connections, not just between students from different fields and schools, but faculty members as well.  We were thrilled to introduce Frank Dukes in Urban Planning and Sophie Trawalter who work on similar themes. Their work is highly complementary. They and the people and communities they serve can benefit greatly from the exchange.

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