Bursting the bubble

Dec 8, 04:13 PM // // Filed under:

At my weekly thesis meeting (thank God for those!) D. Jasper made an interesting note of observation: every so often, University members receive system-wide emails that range from newsletters to security-alerts and crime notices. Considering the context in which we read our daily emails (of which I receive roughly 50-100 on any given day), these facts remain abstract figures and lose the majority of their meaning for the average reader. However, what if we put the facts of these crime alerts or statistics of campus security into context, drawing attention to the reality of the number and heightening the awareness of such alarming notices. Walking down a campus street or around a darkly lit corner could be alarming if you see a day-glo orange sign alerting you to the number of muggings or assaults in your very location.

This got me to thinking further about other emails I get, and the emerging trends I’ve seen lately. Keeping this in the context of University emails, I’ve received a few recently that note our declining state budget and the need for the U community to adjust accordingly– including a semi-permanent “hiring freeze” for all new positions.

For those of us in academia (particularly students and graduate students), there is a certain ‘bubble’ which we live in and which I will soon be bursting out of (a scary thought, to say the least). Part of our bliss is job security but the other part is our single-track minds which we’ve devoted to areas of study or research– unless we are directly impacted or affected by something, we have very little time to devote to the topic.

And so I wonder: How could I bring to light these issues in a way that breaks our routine (while capitalizing on the routine of pattern and emergence) and increases awareness of a cause, situation, or plight of a people? Using resources on hand and capitalizing on routine, can I change behavior?

To think about: The winter brings about a certain behavior: people looking down at sidewalk during snowy weather. What could I do in the snow to shake things up a bit?