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Points of Pride

Posted Oct. 13, 2011

Macon Boczek Discusses Eric Voegelin

 Macon Boczek, adjunct professor at the Geauga campus, participated as a discussant on a panel dealing with the work of the political philosopher, Eric Voegelin as part of the American Political Society Association's annual meeting in Seattle over Labor Day weekend.  The Eric Voegelin panels are part of the "related groups" scheduled each year at the APSA.  Professor Boczek also wrote a book review for the VoegelinView on line magazine; the title of the book was Etty Helisuim and the Flow of Presence.  The author was Meins Costelier.  Etty Helisum was a young Jewish woman of Dutch descent, killed in the WWII concentration camps by the Nazis; like Ann Frank she left dairy and personal papers which are of great current interests to scholars.  Additionally, he took part in a two day colloquium on the topic of the medieval mystical ascent.  This group includes representatives from several religious traditions---Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. 

 Spanish Professor Ehrman Armstrong Makes a Difference

 Ehrman Armstrong, Spanish adjunct professor at the Geauga Campus, has had an interesting year. During spring break he traveled to Guatemala where he visited Spanish colonial sites, modern indigenous sites and ancient Mayan sites.  While there, he heard lectures on the history of Guatemala and its Precolumbian history by a lecturer/guide with degrees in Anthropology and Architecture from the Sorbonne in Paris.  

Professor Armstrong spent the summer working as a volunteer English instructor at the International Institute in Akron for Bhutanese and some Burmese refugees.  The refugees are of Nepali descent, but their families lived in Bhutan for many years, working as farm laborers. They are known as the Lhotshampa. They were forced out of the country because of conflicts with the Drukpas, with more than 106,000 forced to live in camps in southeastern Nepal in the 1990s.  In recent years, the United States has offered to allow 60,000 of the refugees to live here.  There are about 600 resettled Bhutanese living in the Akron area.

     Dr. Tkacz, Jessica Diggs, and Jonah Meister Present Paper

 Dr. Sharon Tkacz and students Jessica Diggs (May, 2011 graduate) and Jonah Meister (sophomore) Presented a paper at the 23rd meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, D.C., 2011; title – " Digital evolution in males: No landmarks allowed."

 Abstract of article:

Individual differences in finger-length ratios (FLRs) are predictive of a number of stereotypic cognitive traits.  Correlates of finger-length ratios (FLRs) and three cognitive tasks were examined. The navigation task required use of cardinal directions and did not permit use of landmark strategies. Stereotypic FLRs were related to higher way-finding performance only in males. Results are consistent with a division-of-labor evolutionary model of gender differences.

Geauga Campus hosts the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Root Music

 The Geauga Campus was one of eight venues in Ohio to host, New Harmonies; Celebrating American Roots Music. New Harmonies is a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition developed for Museum on Main Street, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) and state humanities councils nationwide. The tour will reach at least 150 communities in 25 states. This exhibit is made possible through the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibit, on campus for the month of August, was a community event as the campus joined with other community members, the Geauga County Historical Society, The Burton Public Library, and the Roadhouse Music Company, to bring associated musical programs to the community. Kent State University at Geauga sponsored several performances by local artist and joined with the historical society as sponsors of the Raccoon County Music Festival. The exhibit and related events attracted many visitors to the campus. It also became a focal point for classes held in conjunction with the Geauga Department on Ageing' s annual 'Learning for a Lifetime Series," where over 130 senior citizens attend classes.

            The exhibit came to the campus via an application submitted by Carol Gardner, special assistant to the dean, to the Ohio Humanities Council. In addition to gaining access to the exhibit, the campus also received funding from the council for supporting programming.

 Chardon Business Students Promote

Chardon Tomorrow

Students from the business class taught by Professor Thom Foley recently presented their findings after working with Chardon Tomorrow as a class project. Chardon Tomorrow is an organization created by Chardon area residents and business people with the mission, "preserving and enhancing the character of Chardon by encouraging investment, fostering a sense of community, and developing partnerships with community stakeholders to create a more vibrant and sustainable quality of life." The students were able to assist the organization in promoting Chardon Tomorrow to the community as well as the Holiday Happiness initiative.

                Students approached area businesses to encourage them to participate in the Shop Chardon initiative, a program developed to entice residents to shop locally. The students explained the program to the businesses and, after signing them up for the program, gave them window decals to advertise the program as well as supporting materials.  All businesses were asked to participate in the Holiday Happiness program sponsored by Chardon Tomorrow which included weekly drawings and other incentives for local shoppers.

                Out of the more than 600 businesses operating in Chardon, 99 were contacted by the class. Eighty three  were convinced to join the Chardon Tomorrow campaign; 53 participating in the Holiday Happiness initiative. According to the students, most of the local businesses were receptive to the idea of Shop Chardon and were excited to get involved in an initiative to help the local economy. Students felt having more printed resources explaining Chardon Tomorrow and their programs would have increased their success at finding business partners. Those companies that had been contacted in advance of the students' visits by the Chardon Tomorrow members were more willing to join the campaign.

                Future classes will continue this partnership with the Chardon Tomorrow Organization, continuing to make an economic impact on the local community as well as promoting Kent State University at Geauga.


Dr. Neth Studies Faces

Every day we look at many faces; from our own in the bathroom mirror, to the faces of our colleagues, to the face of the cashier at the drug store register.   Faces, and the emotion they elicit, are paramount in our daily interactions.  Dr. Donald Neth took his interest in the affective component of cognition with the focus of his recent research on how the structural layout of facial features is important in the perception of emotion.

Dr. Neth, an adjunct instructor for Kent State University's Geauga Campus and Regional Academic Center, conducted collaborative research on the perception of the static configuration of facial components.  For this research, Dr. Neth partnered with Dr. Aleix Martinez of The Ohio State University's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  The team conducted several experiments where subjects were asked to respond by key-press to indicate their perception of the difference in emotional expression between paired facial images.  These facial images were modified to represent various distance relationships between the eyes, mouth, nose, and eyebrows of the image.  Results of the study consistently showed that an increase in the distance between the eyes and mouth resulted in an increased perception of sadness.  Similarly, a perceived increase in anger was apparent when the distance between the eyes and mouth was decreased. 

In everyday life, dynamic facial displays are the primary source of information from the face.  This research indicates that the basic static configuration of the facial features needs to be taken into account as well.  The configural bias has direct implications in the psychology of emotion as well as ramifications in computer vision, human-computer interfaces, sociology, politics, and the arts.  In regards to human-computer interfaces, a better understanding of how humans perceive the basic static configuration will allow computers to be programmed to understand facial configuration in a similar way to facilitate the interaction.

The one and a half year research project was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation and Dr. Neth was supported in part by a Fellowship from Ohio State's Center for Cognitive Sciences.