Student journalists and Media Studies majors met with Dorothy Parvaz for dinner on Wednesday night. Everyone benefited from her stories and professional advice. Big thanks to Environmental Sciences for support of Transduction and student engagement through the use of the Odum Room.

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Dorothy Parvaz, special projects editor and reporter for Al Jazeera International, exemplifies disciplinary and cultural transduction. Students from Transduction, those with interest in Middle East, Policy and Media Studies and journalism themes all enjoyed separate engaging discussions with Dorothy during her visit.  Faculty from Politics, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, History, Chemistry, Architecture, German, Media Studies, American Studies and more met with Dorothy for conversation.

The OpenTable event featuring Dorothy, with Bill Quandt from Politics and Elizabeth Thompson from History. Graduate students from Politics and Religious Studies and undergrads, including first years from various fields and schools, both the College and Engineering, were present, and contributed. Even a prospective student was there! The discussion got heated at one point with disagreement surrounding reasons for low voter turnout and engagement in the democratic process in the US versus other countries like Afghanistan. We enjoyed the lively debate, as well as the friendly jokes and handshake afterwards.  Thanks Dorothy for sharing your story, and challenging us to be better informed about what’s going on in the world. Thank you Lisa Goff for your important contributions as cohost for Dorothy’s visit.

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Great visit with Natalie Jeremijenko. We were enthralled with her talk and had a blast brainstorming about ideas and projects at OpenGrounds. Lots to think about, and great to get together with students and colleagues from across Grounds to imagine what might be possible. Thanks for coming Natalie! Hope to see you back in Cville soon. Thank you Bill Sherman and Lindsey Hepler for the Transduction-OpenGrounds partnership.

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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.

Tae Hong Park presented his Electro Acoustic Music Mine project at WallSpace, suggesting ways that contributions already submitted to conferences could be shared, stored and preserved.  Great discussion with Tae Hong, Ted Coffey and others who were there.

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