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Past Roundtable Events


Digital Discourse and Civil Society

October 13, 2016 | 3:30–5 p.m. | McCormick tribune campus center (MTCC) Auditorium

How can we promote ethical behavior and social good in the digital space? Has the Internet fostered more extreme viewpoints on controversial issues? Does the perceived anonymity in the digital space increase bullying and toxicity in online communities? Are the rules of etiquette and civility different online?

Read the Roundtable recap in the Fall 2016 issue of Big Picture.

Featured participants

Lucy Bernholz

Lucy BernholzLucy Bernholz is a senior research scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and director of the Digital Civil Society Lab. She has been a visiting scholar at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, the Hybrid Reality Institute, and the New America Foundation. Bernholz is the author of numerous articles and books, including the annual Blueprint Series on Philanthropy and the Social Economy, the 2010 publication Disrupting Philanthropy, and her 2004 book Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution. She is a co-editor of Philanthropy in Democratic Societies, to be published in June 2016 by the University of Chicago Press. She writes extensively on philanthropy, technology, information, and policy on her award winning blog,

Bernholz has a B.A. from Yale University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Howard D. Fencl

Howard FenclHoward D. Fencl is a vice president at Hennes Communications LLC, a crisis communications, crisis management, litigation communications, and media training firm based in Cleveland. His crisis experience includes helping clients deal with accusations of criminal behavior, leadership changes, industrial accidents, product recalls, and other high-stakes reputation issues.

Fencl previously served as assistant news director at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, where he and his news team received the Edward R. Murrow Award in 2013 for outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. He was vice president at Edward Howard & Co. (now Fahlgren Mortine), a public relations agency serving a diverse client portfolio including Hoover, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Rubbermaid, Kidde, and Huffy. In the 1990s, he was president and general manager of Multiverse, one of the pioneer internet service providers in Northeast Ohio. Fencl was pivotal in creating and launching Cleveland’s first presence on the web in late 1994 in his capacity as director of communications for The New Cleveland Campaign, a civic marketing organization. He also served as a television news producer and executive producer for a dozen years.

Fencl graduated as valedictorian from Denison University, and earned his M.A. at Hiram College.

Kishonna L. Gray

Kishonna GrayKishonna L. Gray is currently a MLK Visiting Scholar in Women & Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies/Writing at the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. She is also the founder of the Critical Gaming Lab at Eastern Kentucky University. She is expanding on the work created at MIT to develop new initiatives surrounding Equity in Gaming. Her work broadly intersects identity and new media although she has a particular focus on gaming. Her most recent book, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014), provides a much-needed theoretical framework for examining deviant behavior and deviant bodies within that virtual gaming community. Her work has been featured in outlets such as the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology; Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology; Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society; and New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, Information, Communication, & Society, among others. Her work has also been featured in the LA Times, Paste Magazine, Engadget, The Guardian, BET, and Blavity. She’s a featured blogger and podcaster with “Not Your Mama’s Gamer” and actively blogs on her own website.

Gray completed her Ph.D. at Arizona State University with a concentration in media, technology, and culture. You can follow her on Twitter at @KishonnaGray and the Equity in Gaming Initiative at @EquityInGaming.

Donald Heider

Don HeiderDon Heider is the founding dean and professor in the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago, and  founder of the Center for Digital Ethics & Policy.  He is the author or editor of seven books including Ethics for a Digital Age.  Heider is a multiple Emmy-award winning producer and reporter who spent ten years in news before entering the academy.

Heider worked previously at the University of Maryland, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He holds a B.A. from Colorado State University, an M.A. from American University and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

Eric D. Wesselmann

Eric WesselmannEric D. Wesselmann is an assistant professor of psychology at Illinois State University. His research interests focus broadly on the dynamics of social connection and dissolution in various contexts. Specifically, he conducts research on ostracism and other types of social exclusion. He has published empirical articles and book chapters on how individuals feel when they experience being ostracized, as well as how and why individuals ostracize others. He also has published articles on the psychological aspects of such diverse topics as religious beliefs, stigma, aggression, and sexual harassment. He is a fellow of the Midwestern Psychological Association, has received the Association for Psychological Science's "Rising Star" designation in 2015, and has co-edited two themed issues for peer-reviewed journals—one for the Journal of Social Psychology and one for the Journal for Prevention and Intervention in the Community

Wesselmann has a B.A. and M.S. from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.


Algorithms: Human Influence on the World of Data

October 29, 2015 | 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. | MTCC Auditorium

Algorithms convert data into results-online news aggregation, investment trading decisions, and targets of surveillance programs are all determined by them. But this process is not morally or politically neutral; each algorithm carries in it cultural and political values. Behind every computation sits a person or group of people who've decided what information to collect, how to store it, how to analyze it, and how to use it. In this Roundtable, we discussed how algorithms shape the information we receive, and how transparent the social and political implications of these equations should or shouldn't be.

Read the 2015 Roundtable recap in Big Picture.

Featured Roundtable Participants

Angela CirucciAngela M. Cirucci received her Ph.D. from Temple University in the School of Media and Communication. She was previously a senior doctoral fellow and a digital humanities scholar with the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory. 

As a researcher and theorist, Cirucci explores social networking sites and the ways in which their structures and affordances influence identifications. She is particularly interested in Facebook's drive to create an anti-anonymous culture. She has presented her research at many conferences including The International Communication Association, The National Communication Association and The Media Ecology Association, where she was awarded the 2012 Linda Elson Top Student Paper for her "First Person Paparazzi." 

Cirucci joined Kutztown University as assistant professor of communication studies in August 2015.

Jason ReschJason Resch (CS, '06) is a software architect at Cleversafe, Inc., and recently won the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from Illinois Tech. Author, entrepreneur, and a computer scientist with 133 issued and 310 pending patents, Resch has 17 years of professional software engineering experience. He began programming at age 7 and launched an Internet company at 16. 

Read the Summer 2014 feature on Resch in IIT Magazine.

Christian SandvigChristian Sandvig is an associate professor of communication studies and information at the University of Michigan and a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. His research specializes in Internet infrastructure and public policy.

Before moving to Michigan, Sandvig was an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he founded the Center for People & Infrastructures. He previously served as Markle Foundation Information Policy Fellow at the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Oxford University. Sandvig has been named a "next-generation leader in science and technology policy" in a faculty competition organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Nick SeaverNick Seaver earned his Ph.D. from University of California-Irvine’s Department of Anthropology, and was co-chair of the American Anthropological Association’s Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing. His primary research area is looking at how people use technology to interpret, reproduce, and circulate sound.

In January 2016, Seaver joined Tufts University as assistant professor in the anthropology of science and technology.

Lewis College Roundtable