AHRC Justice Symposium

I’m going to be submitting a position paper to the AHRC Justice Symposium that’s being held at the University of Stirling on Saturday 28th April. I think it’s a really good opportunity for Computer and Information Science researchers to make contact and share ideas with researchers in  other disciplines, as well as being good practice for presenting in an academic environment, so I thought I’d share the details in case there are other Strathclyde or Stirling students who’d like to get involved.

Any Strathclyde/Stirling students wishing to participate in the event should email  graeme.t.brown@strath.ac.uk by no later than Friday 30th March for a booking form, and ensure that they provide a brief outline of the intended topic and content of the position paper to be presented.

Students and staff from Strathclyde will be able to take advantage of free transport from campus to the symposium and lunch and refreshments will be provided on the day, again free of charge.

The purpose of the event is to bring together researchers and students from Strathclyde and Stirling in intellectual debate and discussion, and to mark the establishment of the Consortium agreement that now exists between our universities.  As you may know, the Consortium has attracted significant financial support in the form of studentships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

There will be two main elements to the symposium. In the morning, staff and students will gather to hear a keynote address from Chris Mullin, the author, journalist and former MP who served as a minister in three departments of British government and was chairman of the Home Affairs select committee. Chris Mullin’s books include three highly acclaimed volumes of diaries, “A View from the Foothills”, “Decline and Fall”, and “A Walk-On Part”, along with the novel “A Very British Coup”, which was made into an award-winning television series. His “Error of Judgement – the truth about the Birmingham Bombings” led to the correction of one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British legal history, and was made into a drama documentary by Granada Television.

After lunch, delegates will be able to attend round-table discussions on the theme of Justice as it relates to their specific subject area, be that History, Literature, Creative Writing, Publishing Studies, Journalism, or Archives and Information Sciences.

The CIS strand of the BGP Consortium Symposium invites staff and students from Strathclyde and Stirling universities, who are working in CIS related areas, to present position papers of no more than 10 minutes on a CIS specific topic that is closely related to the overarching symposium theme of justice. Due to time constraints the number of presentations will be limited to four.

The structure of the CIS specific event is designed to break down into two broad sections. The first section will consist of the position paper presentations. This will be followed by a discussion session that relates the specific topics covered within each of the presentations to broader issues within the justice theme that are relevant to the CIS discipline.

The justice theme of the BGP Consortium symposium is particularly relevant to the CIS discipline and can be approached from multiple perspectives.  It is not the intention here to produce an exhaustive or exclusive list of topics that participants may discuss, but a range of potential topics are offered below that that may or may not be taken up by participants.

Social Justice

  • The public financing of public libraries and information services; the nature and consequences of privatisation of public libraries and information services and the consequences of specific treaties such as GATS.
  • The extent, nature and consequences of neoliberal and neoconservative policies on publicly funded information services.
  • Information poverty and the digital divide(s). This could be related to other broad concepts such as equity of access and information literacy or more specific areas such as the way individuals access healthcare information or political knowledge to engage with democratic processes (or the role information providers play in providing this information).

Censorship and bias

  • An examination of the way information was/is provided under totalitarian regimes: can social media undermine certain aspects of state sponsored censorship?
  • What are the implications of search engines censoring results and in the case of Google, closing certain AdSense accounts?
  • The extent and effects of self-censorship: what were the effects (actual or potential) of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1998, which stated that local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”, on library collection policies.
  • What are the effects of internet filtering software on the ability of public library users to search for information online?

Citizen Involvement

  • What impact is the ‘guerrilla librarian’ movement on social justice having and can the profession learn from it?
  • What role did social media and citizen journalism play in the Arab Spring uprisings?
  • Does unmediated content delivery on the internet constitute a fairer platform for discussion or are the traditional publishing avenues still necessary to ensure provenance and reliability?

Legislation and Privacy

  • Does Freedom of Information legislation make public bodies more accountable and improve social justice?
  • In what way has legislation such as the PATRIOT Act in the United States had an impact upon data mining and data protection?

View over Airthrey Loch, University of Stirling (cc Astacus on flickr)

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