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2010 E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values

The Role of Social Media in Politics and Education

There has been a virtual explosion of new ideas and technologies in the last year. Words like text, blog and twitter—unknown 10 years ago – have become part of our cultural landscape. The ability to communicate anything at anytime is not only possible, but often expected among certain communities. Certainly there have been problems associated with these changes, but the benefits cannot easily be dismissed.

Education and politics are two areas where social networking tools have become particularly prominent. Education has changed significantly with the ability to receive instruction from virtually any university to anywhere in the world. Similarly, more and more politicians are exploiting social networking avenues with a great deal of effectiveness. The question that is raised is, “Is this new technology good or bad?”

The 2010 E. James Holland University Symposium, “The Role of Social Media in Politics and Education,” brings two renowned speakers—Dr. James Katz and Howard Rheingold—to the ASU campus to challenge and educate us. We hope you will join us as we consider what the American values related to social media will mean in the 21st century.


Distinguished Speakers

James E.  Katz, Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Communication at Rutgers University where he also directs the Center for Mobile Communication Studies.  Professor Katz has written widely on the intersection of technology, communication and policy and is the author or co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles.  Author of several books, his newest volume is the forthcoming Mobile Communication: New Dimensions in Social Policy (Transaction Publishers).  His books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Italian.  In 2009, he was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Twentieth Century Communications History (Italy) and was awarded the Medalion per il Lectio Magistralis, a most esteemed honor in the European academic tradition, by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano.  Prior to coming to Rutgers, Professor Katz headed the social science research unit at Bell Communications Research.  Katz has been granted two patents and has held fellowships at Harvard, Princeton and MIT.  Katz has been active in professional associations, and is serving currently as the chair of the International Communication Association’s Division on Communication and Technology as well as editor-in-chief of Human Communication Research, a preeminent journal in the field of communication. 

What role should social media play in setting political and policy agendas in the United States? Social media including Twitter, Facebook and texting, have already transformed American politics, but whether this transformation has been a net positive is hotly debated.  Social media advocates see the technology as a way to engage more citizens in political campaigns and force political leaders to be more responsive to the will of the people.  Critics fear social media will erode the quality of deliberations, erode representative government, give too much power to special interests and undermine Constitutional protections.  In this talk, Dr. Katz will explore the promise, power and peril of social media in national politics and governance.  He will do this by analyzing how social media was used during the 2008 presidential contest and subsequent use by the Obama Administration to engender public participation.  His findings suggest why progress towards ambitious goals for citizen participation via social media remains both modest and problematical. 



There are a lot of voices talking about social media today, but Howard Rheingold defined the field before it existed. A noted author and commentator, Rheingold has a proven record of accurate technology and social forecasting, over two decades of syndicated columns, best-selling books, and pioneering online enterprises. His latest research and forthcoming book focuses on 21st century literacies — how individuals and organizations learn to use digital media effectively and credibly. He is an acknowledged authority on the marriage of mobile phone, PC, and wireless internet, Rheingold’s previous work reveals how this convergence has changed the way we meet, mate, entertain, govern, and conduct business. His book Smart Mobs, named one of the “Big Ideas books of 2002” by The New York Times, chronicles the new forms of collective action and cooperation made possible by mobile communications, pervasive computing, and the internet. Rheingold is the recipient of a 2008 MacArthur Knowledge- Networking Grant through the Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Competition. He was founding Executive Editor of Hotwired, the first commercial webzine where the web-based discussion forum and the online banner ad were invented. Rheingold has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, ABC Primetime Live, CNN, CBS News, NBC News, Macneill-Lehrer Report, NPR’s Fresh Air and Marketplace. He currently teaches at Stanford University.

In 1987, Howard Rheingold coined the term virtual community; in the pioneering article and book of that name, he talked about the way early online communities conducted what is now called peer to peer learning. In 1995, he helped NEC corporation design a vision of the university of the future. In 2007 he started teaching digital journalism and social media courses at Stanford and UC Berkeley. In 2008, his social media classroom was one of the winners of the MacArthur Foundation’s first digital learning competition. In this talk, Rheingold will take us through the learning journey he and his students experienced as they learned together how best to integrate face to face classroom time with online blogs, wikis, threaded discussion forums, and social bookmarking. In the process, he will explore the new literacies that are the subject of  his latest book (in progress for MIT Press): attention, participation, collaboration, critical consumption, and network awareness.

E. James Holland and The History of The Symposium

By special action of the Board of Regents of the Texas University System in 2003, the ASU Symposium was renamed the E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values in honor of the retired Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, who established the annual event in 1984.

During his 36 years at ASU, Holland served the university as Professor of Government and Head of the Government Department, Director of Curriculum Development, Associate VP for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. With degrees from Southwestern University, Yale Divinity School, and The American University in Washington, D.C., Holland was instrumental in developing the university’s international student and faculty exchange program and in establishing new degree programs in international studies, communications, studio arts, and criminal justice.

Holland is an active member of the San Angelo community, serving as president of Adult Day Care, Concho Educators Federal Credit Union, and United Campus Ministries and as a member of the Ancillary Manpower Planning Board of the Concho Valley Council of Government. He is also active in St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where he chaired the Administrative Board of the Finance Committee.

Since its inception, the Symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians, and policy-makers to the ASU campus to provoke thought and discussion on a wide range of themes. A collaboration of students, faculty members, and administrators, the Symposium is dedicated to improving the overall academic environment of the University and committed to exploring the national character as expressed in issues related to American values.

The two-day Symposium, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, is the central event in a broader program of related activities, including class visits by the featured presenters, a video production of the Symposium itself, and a creative contest with cash awards for students.

Presentation Schedule

October 25, 2010
2:00 p.m.
Howard Rheingold
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

October 26, 2010
2:00 p.m.
Dr. James Katz
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

All sessions are free.