Part of our work at the Futures Initiative is conducting meaningful, high-level research and connecting it to the wider world in creative ways. Specifically, we focus on continued research and outreach on matters related to equity, diversity, technology, and public support in higher education. Past projects conducted by Futures Initiative fellows included: CUNY NYC Language Mapping Project, Sociodemographics Map of NYC, Futures Initiative’s Mobile App Project, and the Futures Initiative’s Network Analysis Project.

CUNY NYC Language Mapping Project

In conjunction with the Fall 2015 Futures Initiative sponsored course Global Perspectives on Language and Education—CUNY Language Diversity and Global Language Learning Policies, Futures Initiative Graduate Fellow Michael Dorsch led a research project to map the languages spoken across New York City and to compare the languages spoken in communities closest to each of CUNY’s campuses with language education opportunities offered at each campus. The CUNY NYC Language Mapping Project is hosted on a new Futures Initiative website and includes results of the analysis, interpretation of the results, and an interactive map built using CartoDB that allows users to toggle through different languages spoken across New York City for close analysis of neighborhoods throughout the city and close to CUNY. The interactive map also allows users to navigate snapshots of the languages taught at CUNY campuses and the languages spoken in the communities around those campuses. The results highlight not only CUNY’s incredible linguistic diversity, but also opportunities for greater support and new scholarship on language policy in higher education.

Sociodemographics Map of NYC

The CUNY Sociodemographics Map of NYC project is a sociodemographic analysis of the communities closest to CUNY’s campuses.  The twofold purpose is, first, to see the characteristics of people who are in walkable distance (defined as one mile from campus) and, second, to compare community characteristics with college population characteristics, as based on enrollment data from the CUNY Office for Institutional Research and Assessment.

The Futures Initiative’s Network Analysis

The Futures Initiative develops and hosts an online community on its Commons In A Box website. This digital tool allows students across the CUNY campuses to interact with each other and explore the courses offered through the Futures Initiative. Graduate Fellow Lisa Tagliaferri has led a network analysis research project that maps the pathways of the site’s users and shows how students grow their communities through the online tool. This research also provides feedback for how to best structure the site and facilitate network building through the website. Lisa has presented this research at Digital Humanities 2015, and will present continued findings at the International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning 2016. A paper on this project entitled “Open-Access Student-Centered Learning: The open web as a collaborative space for higher education in public” is forthcoming in the Springer series “Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing,” and interactive visualizations of the network are available on the Futures Initiative website.

Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies

First published in 2015 by Danica Savonick and Cathy N. Davidson, Gender Bias in Academe: An Annotated Bibliography of Important Recent Studies aggregates and summarizes peer-reviewed research studies of gender and racial bias in academe. While some studies suggest that some fields are making a concerted effort to reverse gender imbalance by pro-actively hiring women, the majority of these studies reveal a range of biases at each stage of the hiring, tenuring, and promotion process, and peer review. In March 2016, the London School of Economics Social Science Impact Blog republished the bibliography, which has since been one of their most popular posts. Educators and administrators nationwide, including college presidents and provosts, have used this bibliography to ensure less biased decisions in their appointment, promotion, and tenure processes.

Developing the FI Events Mobile App

Technology is an integral of the FI mission. We believe tools have the potential to build community and foster greater access and we hope our FI Events Mobile App will make progress on both of these fronts for both the FI and broader CUNY community. Events are a key component of the intellectual and cultural offerings that make CUNY valuable not only to students but to their surrounding communities as well. Making events easier to find raises the profile of the intellectual life of each college, while also making it easier for members of the public to find and attend events on topics that matter to them. Currently, FI events are announced and displayed on our website and shared via social media and email. However, each of these outlets of information faces one major issue: the need for cellular data or wifi to access. CUNY students spend much of their time commuting and given the nature of NYC travel are often in locations where signals are unavailable. Therefore, a mobile app that could provide offline access to events has the potential to improve accessibility. This research project has 3 major components: (1) developing an Android mobile application led by FI fellow Michelle Morales, (2) publicly releasing and sharing all code involved in the project, and (3) reflecting on the development process via blog post reflections and tutorials. Follow the project’s development here.