Students Asked - We Listened
The campus's first-ever Graduate Commons, located on Floor 5 of the Du Bois Library, is a result of input gathered through surveys and focus groups assessing the needs of graduate students. The space is filled with workstations, conference rooms, and secure storage for scholarly materials.
Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst, was recently appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for Mass Humanities. She was sworn in on March 26.
Dr. Battle-Baptiste is a historical archaeologist who focuses on the intersectional relationship of race, class, gender and the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African Diaspora. She is a scholar and activist who views the classroom and the university as a space to engage contemporary issues with a sensibility of the past. Her book, Black Feminist Archaeology (Left Coast Press, 2011), outlines the basic tenets of Black feminist thought and research for archaeologists and shows how it can be used to improve contemporary historical archaeology as a whole.
She first came in contact with Mass Humanities through their annual public readings of Frederick Douglass' famous Fourth of July address, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" These readings take place annually across the commonwealth, with the flagship event occurring in Boston. Battle-Baptiste has participated in this program as the discussion facilitator in both Springfield and Amherst.
The mission of Mass Humanities is to conduct and support programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy, now simply known as Mass Humanities, was established in 1974 as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and is an independent programming and grant-making organization that receives support from the NEH and the Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as private sources.
"I strongly believe in the work that is done by Mass Humanities and I am humbled and excited to serve the commonwealth of Massachusetts in this capacity," says Battle-Baptiste.
Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you!
Additionally, here are just a few of the Star Wars resources available at the UMass Amherst Libraries. Of course, if there's something you'd like that's not on this list, check out Discover Search and the Five College Catalog for Inter-Galactic Library Loan options.
Our Ready Player One competition winner, Parker Louison, collected his award, a $599 value HTC Vive Head set. Parker's project is to develop simulations of various career paths and areas of study. This will help students 'test the water' with a variety of their interests, stretching their perspective on their own capabilities and helping them to thrive and be passionate about their future careers.
To commemorate the lab's new virtual reality (VR) capabilities from HTC VIVE, the official partner of the new film, Ready Player One, UMass Amherst students were challenged to produce a short video describing their vision of how VR technology and its applications could enhance student life on campus.
Second Place: Benjamin Abraham '21, for an idea to incorporate VR into UMass Medical Services to help military veterans cope with traumatic experiences. VR therapy using applications such as Bravemind may help in the healing process of our nation's combat personnel. Abraham received a copy of the book Ready Player One, signed by author Ernest Cline, and a $20 Cinemark Gift Card.
Third Place: Harrison Packer '19, for an idea to enhance the sustainability aspect of campus life with a virtual reality app supporting clean energy initiatives, allowing students to examine how green technology can affect the environment. Packer received a $20 Cinemark Gift Card.
Acquah, who also serves as Director of the Global Educational Outreach for Science Engineering and Technology (GEOSET) initiative founded with one of the 1996 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, is very pleased with the outcome of the competition.
The students at UMass Amherst show a passion for their campus community with creative and innovative ideas that can enhance campus life. I'm looking forward to working with our talented students on their ideas for VR applications. Our team, including the leader of our VR facility, Yuntian Hu, is ready to help enhance the student experience through technology.
Currently located on Floor 3 of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, the UMass Amherst Digital Media Lab is a multimedia and 3D print production space designed to support students working on video, audio, animation, and 3D modeling.