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October 2008

Release Date: Oct. 6, 2008ASU Logo

ASU Holland Symposium to Focus on Privacy in America

Two renowned scholars will address concerns about surveillance and security at the cost of Americans’ privacy during the 2008 E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 27-28, at Angelo State University.

Dr. John Gilliom, chair of the Department of Political Science at Ohio University, and Dr. Torin Monahan, associate professor of human and organizational development and associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, will focus on the increasing surveillance in individuals’ daily lives.

The symposium, titled “Privacy in America: Balancing the Individual and Society,” will address the issue of privacy from several perspectives, including the definition of “privacy,” how poverty and social injustice play a role in privacy-related policies, and how surveillance is being used in electronic media and in health care.

The two-day symposium, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and held in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center in the Houston Harte University Center, is the central event in a broader program of related activities, including class visits by the featured speakers, a video production of the symposium and a creative contest with cash awards for students.

In the keynote address at 2 p.m. Oct. 27, Gilliom will spotlight a new outlook toward the basic terms and structure of the surveillance-privacy debate. Gilliom has researched workplace drug testing, welfare fraud control and educational testing, which are all subjects of surveillance.

Gilliom argues that those measures are a pervasive and vital form of political power and social management which define many aspects of Americans’ lives. He also suggests that the previously untouchable right to privacy is past its prime and stands in the way of robust intellectual inquiry and effective political discussion.

Monahan will speak at 2 p.m. Oct. 28 on “somatic surveillance,” where bodies essentially become computer input terminals on vast information networks. His focus is in three areas: nanotechnology systems for soldiers on the battlefield; body-monitoring for health purposes; and implants to identify hospital patients. His argument is that such systems reduce people to data and invisibly automate social inequality.

The speakers then will conduct a panel discussion on their issues at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28. The lectures and panel discussion are open free to the public.

Gilliom’s research takes aim at the political and cultural dynamics surrounding the new forms of surveillance with emphasis on gender, class and the ethnic struggle. He has written books on the effect of intense monitoring on peoples’ lives and the impact of drug testing and social control.

The Ohio professor’s current research studies the implementation of standardized testing under the federal government’s No Child Left Behind program.

Monahan will discuss the social control and institutional transformations brought on by new technology.

He served as an assistant professor in the Arizona State University School of Justice and Social Inquiry from 2003-08.

The symposium was established in 1984 by then College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean E. James Holland. In 2003, when Holland retired, the board of regents named the symposium in his honor. In its 24 years, the symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians and policymakers to the ASU campus to spur thought and debate on issues relevant to American society.

The symposium steering committee is chaired by Dr. Kraig Schell of the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work, and co-chaired by Dr. John (Trey) Smith of the Department of Mathematics. Committee members and their departments are Dr. Kevin Lambert, dean, College of Liberal and Fine Arts; Dr. David Bixler, physics; Dr. William Montgomery, psychology; Dr. William McKinney, accounting, economics and finance; Dr. Tom Badgett, marketing; Dr. Charles Allen, physics; Dr. Chris Ellery, English; Ralph (Randy) Hall, art; and Dr. John Glassford, government.

Also, Dr. June Smith and Dr. Leah Mangrum of the Department of Communications, Drama and Journalism are assisting the committee with symposium preparations.

For more information, contact Dr. Kraig Schell at 942-2219, ext. 243, or visit the Web site at