CIVIC X Brown University “Theory to Practice: Context-Aware Systems Symposium”

Photo by Daniel Öberg on Unsplash

Over the course of two days — Friday and Saturday, March 10 – 11, 2023 — CIVIC X Brown University will offer the Theory to Practice: Context-Aware Systems Symposium in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library. Additionally, the keynote will be made available to the public via live stream. Registration is required for both (see program below for registration links).

The CIVIC X Brown University “Theory to Practice: Context-Aware Systems Symposium” is sponsored by Data Science Initiative, Department of Africana Studies, and Brown University Library.

Context-Aware Systems

Context-Aware Systems is an active practice that considers how infrastructure can contain and evolve situated knowledge, and seeks to more deeply understand and clarify embedded assumptions which can distort the structures, interpretations, and impacts of data. 

The purpose of the Theory to Practice Symposium is to reach beyond discourse and criticism of the current landscape of data and ethics to offer tangible principles, methodologies, and frameworks while building a multidisciplinary collaboration environment for participants to experience what more equitable approaches to technology creation feels like in action.


The Symposium will span two days, comprising four in-person sessions of three hours each. Sessions combine lecture presentations and applied lab activities which ground theories of contextual technology development through curated learning examples. Examples of learning material may include case studies, real datasets, dataset imaginaries, schema samples, simulated project environment elements, and hypothetical or gamified scenarios. 

No prerequisites are needed to participate in any workshop, and they are designed to create the most value for multidisciplinary faculty and graduate students interested in both conceptual and practical approaches to centering equity in data and technology initiatives.


Friday, March 10 – Register for this day [link coming soon]

  • 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. – Continental Breakfast
  • 9:15 – 9:30 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • 9:30 – 10:15 a.m. – Keynote – Register for the online keynote [link coming soon]
  • 10:15 – 10:30 a.m. – Break
  • 10:30 a.m. -12 p.m. Session #1:
    • Lecture: Architectures of Friction and Flattening  
    • Lab: “Les Deliverables” 
  • 12 – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch 
  • 1:30 – 3 p.m. Session #2:
    • Lecture: Data Constituent Engagement
    • Lab: “Data-Driven Gaslighting” 
  • 3 to 3:15 p.m. – Break
  • 3:15-3:30 p.m. – Closing Remarks
  • 5 – 7 p.m. – Dinner offsite

Saturday, March 11 – Register for this day [link coming soon]

  • 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. – Continental Breakfast
  • 10:15 – 10:30 a.m. – Opening Remarks
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Session #3:
    • Lecture: Beyond Performative Dashboards
    • Lab: “Dashboard Glow Up”
  • 12 – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch 
  • 1:30 – 3 p.m. Session #4:
    • Lecture: Remediating Bias With Contextual Metadata
    • Lab: “Hansel and Gretel Bias” 
  • 3 to 3:15 p.m. – Break
  • 3:15-3:30 p.m. – Closing Remarks
  • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. – Closing Reception

Full descriptions of the sessions:

Session #1: Architectures of Friction and Flattening 

March 10 // Friday Morning (Kick-off) 

Lecture Abstract 

This workshop challenges assumptions of techno-solutionist narratives while presenting alternate ways of thinking about technology that embrace intersectional representation and lived experience. Shifting from the mindset that data are objective and neutral, we recognize that cultural and environmental factors can have profound impacts on how we perceive information. 

Framing “context” as a learned discipline and set of core competencies connected to every stage of the data lifecycle, this session will present strategies for leaning into constraints and limitations of data and bring attention to what is lost in the gap between reality and what can be captured by information structures. We will invite participants to imagine (and experience) how processes that center equity and impact not only improve industry-standard models, but are intrinsically necessary to break barriers and achieve the next stage of modern innovation. 

Interactive Lab Component: “Les Deliverables” 

An experiential game which simulates the experience of building an equity-based software product. The scenarios (dramatic, thrilling, and sometimes treacherous) are based on composites of real case studies and projects, inviting players to make choices and allocate resources at pivotal moments along a technology development lifecycle while balancing conflicting priorities and emerging developments. Participants will work in teams to “win the game” by completing their project on time, on budget, with positive community impact while avoiding catastrophic mistakes that can make a deliverable fail. 

The goal of the game is for participants to: 

  • Notice how seemingly abstract principles show up tangibly in action 
  • Ground an understanding of how equity and ethics are bedrock practices, not optional or last-minute add-ons 
  • Have fun while covering a wide variety of examples and strategies in a storytelling format 


Participants who are new or skeptical to conversations of an equity-bedrock technology approach: 

  • Acknowledge that data is inherently limited, and understand that examining blindspots and documenting constraints makes data more valuable 
  • Consider how identity and representation can be fractured and flattened by datasets and underlying structures 
  • Perceive how purposeful or unintentional decisions within technology infrastructure can contribute to surveillance and/or conditions of selective oppression
  • Critically examine the “build fast and break things” model and expand perspective on the impact of technology beyond its creator 

Advanced participants with experience and expertise related to the subject areas: 

  • Gain new vocabulary and concepts that directly apply to their work and way of thinking
  • Be able to tap into context-competencies to make strides toward equitable outcomes
  • Feel validated and inspired that success is achievable with the friction required to do this work in the wild 

Session #2: Data Constituent Engagement 

March 10 // Friday Afternoon 

Lecture Abstract 

This workshop expands on concepts from traditional human-centered design to include the role of “data constituents,” defined as people represented in, or impacted by datasets or their lifecycle. This approach differentiates data constituent roles and value propositions from that of the “user” or “business stakeholder” and offers new participatory strategies that strengthen the integrity of technical systems and ethical impacts. 

This session presents examples and case studies which illustrate how strategic engagement with data constituents is not a marketing or PR strategy, and can measurably inform data structures, validation cycles, and interpretation of analytics. 

Interactive Lab Component: “Data-Driven Gaslighting” 

Participants will critically examine the human side of data pipelines and power structures, noticing who is included and excluded. Focusing on questions of information provenance, we investigate the culture of confidence in data-driven decision making with special emphasis on elusive ways that confidence may be misplaced when key constituents are left out of the process and the structures of accountability are not properly in place. 

Apply data constituent strategies to a curated set of data sources with realistic scenario prompts, to be distributed in breakout groups. This workshop does not produce a real-world production strategy but offers exposure to a range of critical thinking examples. 


For participants who are new to business strategy exercises and/or have had low exposure to data environments: 

  • Learn to identify constituents of various forms of data 
  • Become familiar with how to differentiate data constituents from users and stakeholders
  • Develop constituent personas, with consideration toward intersectional identities and relevant relationships to power 
  • Facilitate reflection on the potential for harm, impact, benefits, and opportunities across individual and collective constituent types 
  • Drive discourse on extractive v. respectful behaviors of engagement 
  • Prepare for concepts of data governance and data team workflows, which will support their learning in subsequent Context-Aware Symposium sessions 

For participants who have experience working with data stakeholders and are comfortable applying business strategy frameworks: 

  • Build upon best practices from human-centered design workflows to understand where data constituent engagement can be adapted in technology life cycles 
  • Gain insight on how to structure feedback from data constituents in order to improve the quality and accountability of data sources 
  • Consider value propositions for how investing time and resources in constituent engagement can lead to higher quality outcomes

Session #3: Beyond Performative Dashboards 

March 11 // Saturday Morning 

Lecture Abstract 

This workshop illuminates reductionist behaviors in data visualization that can unintentionally contribute to mischaracterizing analysis or reinforce marginalization. We’ll showcase why metadata is necessary as a component of information design and lean into the controversy of how the effort and investment required to create context may be inherently destabilizing to the essential nature of what people tend to want from data — predictability, certainty, and objective groundtruth. 

There is a direct connection between the popularity of dashboards and a global tech economy optimized to celebrate founders and reward products which promise greater scale, decreased friction, and promote acquisition of information as a means of omniscient advantage. In this way, it’s become normalized to overprescribe data as a source of power in and of itself. 

In this session, we position data visualization as the fruiting body of a larger complex entity and tap into its roots to deconstruct various decision processes influencing what gets prioritized, obscured, or made hyper-visible. Placing special emphasis on “equity” dashboards, we see how cookie-cutter practices and constraints of the genre can perpetuate harmful distortions without proactive awareness. 

Interactive Lab Component: ”Dashboard Glow Up” 

Participants will break out into teams and be assigned a dashboard visualization to analyze and redesign. The sample will be a real screenshot from an open data dashboard available online, printed from the internet, and enlarged onto a posterboard like a piece of art. Along with the visualization, groups will receive a package of all metadata publicly available to describe the data used in the dashboard. Following CIVIC’s Context Data Communication guide (not yet publicly available), teams will use paper, scissors, tape, and Sharpies to reimagine and reform components of the visualization interface. Importantly, they will not be able to change the data visualization itself, but they can completely alter everything around the visualization container to build clarity and reduce bias in the information display, including reauthoring labels, changing colors, creating visibility for key metadata, etc. 

Teams will come together at the end to present their changes “before and after” style, and share how their decisions impact the narrative and perceptions of the data.


For participants who are new to design-strategy frameworks or have had low exposure to data communication environments: 

  • Recognize misleading information constructs 
  • Expand literacy skills to assess and understand data visualizations in the wild
  • Gain experience in accessibility design practices 
  • Learn how the use of color, word choice, and other presentation features can significantly influence impressions of data 
  • Increase confidence working with metadata and begin to appreciate documentation in a new way 

For participants who have high data literacy and experience building visualization frameworks: 

  • Permanently alter the perceptions of industry-standard data visualization dashboards
  • Build competencies to recognize and avoid damaging practices that can cause harm to communities 
  • Integrate Context Communication methodology in their own work to improve equitable and ethical data communication 

Session #4: Remediating Bias with Contextual Metadata 

March 11 // Saturday Afternoon 

Lecture Abstract 

This workshop introduces methods to uncover and critically assess inferences and unexamined judgements which can present measurable distortion within datasets. Often the conditions which create bias can be sneakily embedded, nearly invisible, and start small. Unnoticed or unaddressed, misplaced assumptions can compound into big problems — rendering your data unusable or actively inflicting harm to a constituency. Particularly when those assumptions are deeply rooted in a legacy system and amplify race, gender, or historic marginalization factors, action can feel unclear and overwhelming. While it may be difficult, it’s important to find ways to shift this issue from abstract to tangible. 

In the session, we’ll crank up the magnification on metadata structures and demonstrate how it’s possible to gain traction through incremental operations. Providing an overview of the CIVIC Contextual Metadata schema, the presentation provides a granular approach to reviewing data lineage and methodology with an emphasis on discovering bias. Going further, the session will explore archivist-inspired techniques to annotate datasets to increase provenance and integrity of future use cases.

Interactive Lab Component: “Hansel and Gretel Bias” 

Participants will use an abridged version of CIVIC’s Structured Context Schema (not available to the public) as they navigate a series of questions and prompts in order to author inputs for metadata fields. Working in teams, each group will receive a curated data imaginary which includes a scenario, sample data, and workshop facilitators role-playing data custodians, stakeholders, and/or constituents. 

Data imaginaries are selected to highlight unique aspects of embedded bias which should be discoverable by “following breadcrumbs” through a guided investigation of the material and responses from facilitators. As teams generate documentation, they will recognize opportunities for data to be remediated through additional fields and make strategic decisions about how to handle gaps in knowledge, problematic methodology, and ethical governance questions. 


For participants who have not been actively engaged in discussions of bias and/or have little hands-on experience with metadata schemas and documentation: 

  • Shift thinking bias from an abstract issue to a tangible workflow 
  • Learn an inquiry framework which can help reveal where bias may exist in data
  • See how bias shows up in a variety of forms in realistic settings 
  • Reduce intimidation of data (especially if they don’t consider themselves a “data person”) by working with metadata as a gateway entry point 
  • Value collaboration with multidisciplinary team members 

For participants who have are immersed in discussions of structural bias, and/or are familiar with metadata and schema documentation: 

  • Expand understanding of what metadata is and the simple but powerful role it can play
  • Receive tactical training on CIVIC Structured Context Metadata Schema to support data provenance 
  • Learn practical strategies to improve data equity through structured remediation practices

Digital HISTORY AND THEORY, ​​​​an open conversation on the future of digital scholarship

This illustration featured in the poster above is by Khyati Trehan, an Indian graphic designer and 3D visual artist based in New York. As part of Trehan’s “Digital Biology” series, the illustration “uses scaffolding as a metaphor for AI’s quest in unearthing the underlying logic and structure of complex organic matter” (via Unsplash). For more about this image and to see Trehan’s other work, visit Trehan’s page on the Visualising AI website and Trehan’s website.

On March 3 – 4, 2023, History and Theory, partnering with Brown University Library, will bring the contributors to the December 2022 theme issue, “Digital History and Theory: Changing Narratives, Changing Methods, Changing Narrators,” together for an open exchange inspired by their contributions but focused on the ways to make that change happen now. Digital history has provided us with an incredible array of tools for acquiring and processing data, but critical theoretical reflections have been few and widespread imaginative historical innovations are scarce. The tools have changed, and the possibilities have changed, but the discipline of history is in danger of using them to simply replicate its old ways. Of course, in the end, it is not the tools that will lead to a change; it is ideas and imagination. 

At #DigitalHT2023, our contributors will reflect on their past work and offer concrete suggestions as to how the digital can change the way we research, write, and teach about the past—that is, the way we do history.

Registration – In-person and Zoom options

The in-person event will be held at the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), Rockefeller Library, Brown University (1st floor, 10 Prospect St, Providence, RI 02910).

Registration for in-person attendance required. We kindly request a courtesy registration for online attendance. Register here.

Presented by History and Theory and Brown University Library, with support from Brown University’s Department of History and Cogut Institute for the Humanities.

Full event details at History and Theory.

DH Salons – Spring 2023

audience watching presentation in digital studio

The DH Salon series is a regular, informal presentation series bringing together digital humanities work across the Brown University campus.

Spring 2023 Schedule

Select Tuesdays at 3 p.m. on Zoom or in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library.

February 14 – Register here

“Using Scalar to Illuminate the Fragments Controversy”

  • Jonathan Fine, Lecturer in German Studies

The Fragments Controversy was the most significant theological conflagration of the German Enlightenment. This Scalar project is the first introduction to the controversy that pairs commentary with digital copies of the main texts. It features texts digitalized previously by European libraries as well as digitalizations especially commissioned for this project. It takes advantage of numerous features available to users of Scalar to display the many intertextual networks in operation. It additionally includes visualizations such as timelines and maps that show the longevity and wide dissemination of Lessing’s polemics.

Jonathan Fine is a lecturer in the German Studies Department at Brown. He studied German, comparative literature, and critical theory at New York University and the University of California, Irvine. He previously taught at Gettysburg College and Pacific Lutheran University and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin.

February 28 – Register here

“Digital Herbarium Project (HerbUX)”

  • Patrick Rashleigh, Head of Digital Scholarship Technology Services
  • Rebecca Kartzinel, Lecturer in Biology, Interim Director of the Plant Environmental Center, Director of the Brown University Herbarium

The Herbarium User Experience (HerbUX) project is designing an interface to critical digitized herbarium collections with non-expert audiences (such as students, museum visitors, and the general public) in mind, for use in classrooms, museums, and other public spaces. This interface will be easy to use, encourage non-directed exploratory browsing, directly support pedagogical methodologies and learning outcomes, and be aesthetically engaging.

March 14 – Register here

“Unsettling Boundaries: Envisioning a Database for Caribbean Feminist Creative Writing from the 1990s”

  • Warren Harding, Diversity in Digital Publishing Postdoctoral Research Associate (2022–2023)

In this discussion, Warren Harding will share insights and progress on creating a digital database of Caribbean feminist creative writing from the 1990s. He will reflect on the central questions, structure, scope, and challenges to coordinating this collaborative project.

Warren Harding (he, him) is currently the Diversity in Digital Publishing Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University Digital Publications. He holds a Ph.D. in Africana Studies from Brown, and is working on his manuscript tentatively titled, “Migratorial Reading: Black Caribbean Women Writers and the Work of Literary Cultures.” In Fall 2023, Dr. Harding will begin his appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, General Literature, and Rhetoric at Binghamton University.

April 4 – Register here

“Building GeoPACHA, A Collaborative Digital Platform for “Virtual” Survey in Archaeology”

  • Parker VanValkenburgh, Associate Professor of Anthropology

The Geospatial Platform for Andean Culture, History and Archaeology (GeoPACHA) — see — is a tool developed in collaboration with Dr. Steven Wernke of Vanderbilt, designed to facilitate the identification of archaeological sites and features over extensive areas of South America through “virtual survey” of satellite and historical aerial imagery. In this presentation, I will briefly discuss the project’s problem orientation and design, before moving on to reflect on how its implementation during the global pandemic created both new challenges and opportunities for collaborative research and pedagogy. While virtual archaeological survey is no replacement for conventional field-based methodologies, it offers new possibilities for collecting data at scale, while also scaling up international collaboration and student learning in ways that are nearly impossible to emulate in the excavation trench and the laboratory.

Parker VanValkenburg is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brown. His research and publications employ archaeological methods to address anthropological research questions, with a particular focus on the long-term impacts of colonialism and imperialism on Indigenous people and environments in Andean Peru. In this work, he draws amply on digital methodologies, including the tools of geographic information systems (GIS), to map and analyze social, political, and environmental change in space and time. He also applies a critical lens to the study of digital media and methodologies, asking not just how these techniques facilitate archaeological scholarship, but how digital mediation transforms the ways we work with collaborators, research subjects, students, and public audiences.

April 18 – Register here

“New Frameworks to Preserve and Present on Born-Digital Multimedia Art”

  • Ashley Champagne, Director of CDS
  • Patrick Rashleigh, Head of Digital Scholarship Technology Services
  • Cody Carvel, Digital Scholarship Technologist
  • John Cayley, Professor of Literary Arts
  • Hilary Wang, Digital Archivist
  • Andrew Majcher, Head of Digital Services and Records Management

This project is developing new frameworks for the long-term preservation and presentation of born-digital art with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Preserving born-digital work can be challenging because platforms, hardware, and software are often updated or replaced, changing and even degrading how the original art is displayed. Through “containerization” — a portable, low-cost method of preserving and presenting the code, operating system, and text for experimental, born-digital art — future readers will still be able to view, distribute, collaborate on, and experiment with the original work even if its infrastructure has been altered or discontinued. In this presentation, we’ll share a project update on the models we’re drafting to preserve innovative, experimental born-digital and born-computational art.

May 9 – Register here

Roundtable: “Artificial Intelligence in Humanities Research”

  • Lindsey Caplan, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture
  • Holly Case, Professor of History
  • Kiri Miller, Professor of American Studies
  • Sydney Skybetter, Senior Lecturer in Theater and Performance Studies

New AI tools hold out the promise of new techniques for research, writing and presentations in the humanities, as well as new challenges to originality and ethics. A group of Brown faculty will consider some of the history and future of AI in the humanities.

DH Salons in the Center for Digital Scholarship

two presenters, seated attendees

The Center for Digital Scholarship at the Brown University Library is pleased to host the DH Salons, a regular, informational presentation series that brings together digital humanities work across the Brown University campus on select Tuesdays at 2 p.m.

Offered In-person in the Digital Scholarship Lab (room 137) at the Rockefeller Library or
via Zoom at

Fall 2022 Schedule

September 27

“Critical Questions and Imperfect Solutions in the Stolen Relations: Recovering Stories of Indigenous Enslavement in the Americas Project”

  • Lydia Curliss, PhD student at the iSchool at UMD and member of the Nipmuc Nation (Massachusetts) – Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Ashley Champagne, Director of the Center for Digital Scholarship – Project Lead
  • Patrick Rashleigh, Head of Digital Scholarship Technology Services – Technical Lead

October 11

“The JCB Library’s New Digital Platform: Welcoming New Voices in Digital Curatorship”

  • Pedro Germano Leal, Research Associate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies

 October 25

“Memoryscapes of Slavery”

  • Renée Ater, Visiting Associate Professor of Africana Studies

 November 15

“Introducing In the Wake of George Floyd: Responses to Anti-Black Racism in Rhode Island”

  • Patsy Lewis, Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

December 6

“Gaming with History: A Dissertation as Video Game”
Registration appreciated

  • Amanda Arceneaux, Graduate Student, History

The talk will focus on the central aspects of developing a video game for Amanda’s history dissertation and will look at why the research lends itself well to an interactive digital format. Amanda will cover the process of integrating and presenting the argument within the design of the video game.

Bianca Diaz Book Talk and Signing | Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

What happens when Mama goes to jail?

Artist and illustrator Bianca Diaz will discuss her career and most recent book, See You Soon (written by New York Times best-selling author Mariame Kaba), a poignant, beautifully illustrated children’s book about a little girl named Queenie who worries when her Mama gets sick and goes to jail. Will Mama have a warm bed to sleep in? Will she get better? Can love bridge the distance between them?

On Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 6 p.m. in the Lownes Room* at the John Hay Library, join Bianca Diaz, Mariahdessa Ekere Tallie (award-winning children’s book author and Brown doctoral student), and Africana Studies assistant professor Lisa Biggs for an important and engaging conversation about storytelling, art, and healing, followed by a book signing. 

Free and open to the public.

Bianca Diaz

Bianca Diaz is a Mexican American artist and children’s book illustrator from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Bianca received her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013, and a MA in Creative Process from the National University of Ireland in 2015.

This program is held in conjunction with the exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, currently on view at the Bell and Cohen Galleries through December 18, 2022. 

Sponsored by the John Hay Library, Brown Arts Institute, and the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre at Brown University.

*Accessibility information: The Lownes Room is located on the second floor, up two flights of stairs. Please contact [email protected] if you will need elevator access, which requires staff accompaniment.

Please reach out to Lizette as far in advance of the event as possible for this or any other accommodations that will enable you to attend and enjoy the event. Thank you.

Library Stats Quest Week 11/10 – 11/16

Please tell your Brown University Library about your on-site experience during the week of November 10-16, 2022 — Library Stats Quest Week!

Did you know that nearly 20,000 users visit the libraries in-person every week? And that Library staff answer more than 3,200 questions each semester from students and faculty doing research?

We want to know if the experiences you’re having are meeting your needs. After each visit this week to a library location — Rockefeller, Sciences, Orwig Music, and John Hay Library — please take a few seconds to answer a very brief survey about your experience. Your input will help us better understand why you use the Library and how we can improve our services. 

We’ll also be taking a closer look at how people are using the spaces within the libraries. Library staff will do periodic head-counts in various types of spaces throughout the week. And we’ll be following up on a random number of chats and reference consultations asking people about their experiences.

We strive to make every visit for every patron one in which you feel welcome, respected, and supported. This is your Library. You belong here. Your feedback is essential.

Thank you!

Maia Weinstock ’99 Presents CARBON QUEEN: The Life of Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Nanoscience Innovator

Join the John Hay Library on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 for a book talk by Maia Weinstock ’99, author of Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus (MIT Press, 2022). The talk will take place from 1 – 1:45 p.m. in the Lownes Room* of the John Hay Library, followed by Q&A with a book signing and reception at 2:30 p.m.

Mildred Dressehaus

Maia Weinstock ’99, author of Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus (MIT Press, 2022), will present on the life and work of the extraordinary physicist, electrical engineer, and materials scientist Millie Dresselhaus (1930-2017). As a girl in New York City in the 1940s, Dresselhaus was taught that there were only three career options open to women: secretary, nurse, or teacher. But sneaking into museums, purchasing three-cent copies of National Geographic, and devouring books on the history of science ignited in Dresselhaus a passion for inquiry. Dresselhaus defied expectations and forged a career in solid-state physics, making highly influential discoveries about the properties of carbon and other materials. In so doing, she helped reshape our world in countless ways — from electronics to aviation to medicine to energy. She was also a path-breaking role model for underrepresented individuals in science and engineering and a beloved educator, mentor, and colleague.

Maia Weinstock ’99

Maia Weinstock ’99

Maia Weinstock is an editor, writer, and producer of science, academic, and children’s media. Deputy editorial director at MIT News, Maia previously served as the editorial director at BrainPOP, and as a staff member at Discover,, Aviation Week & Space Technology, and Scholastic’s Science World. Maia writes often on the history of women in STEM and on diversity in STEM media. She is also internationally known for her custom LEGO projects including Women of NASA, a LEGO Ideas-winning and Amazon best-selling toy, and Women of Computing, a LEGO Ideas finalist. Maia has also been an MIT lecturer on the history of women in STEM and led efforts to increase the participation and representation of women on Wikipedia.


*The Lownes Room is located on the second floor, up two flights of stairs. Please contact [email protected] if you will need elevator access, which requires staff accompaniment.

Please reach out to Lizette as far in advance of the event as possible for this or any other accommodations that will enable you to attend and enjoy the event. Thank you.

Depicting Glory 展現輝煌: Rare Objects from the Late Qing to the Republic of China Symposium

“大清萬年一統天下全圖” (1814). Historical Maps and Coins of China. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.

On Saturday, October 15, 2022 in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, the Depicting Glory Symposium will bring together the contributors to the digital project Depicting Glory: Rare Objects from the Late Qing to the Republic of China to present and discuss topics related to modern China. Led by Zhuqing Li, Visiting Associate Professor of East Asian Studies and Faculty Curator of East Asian Collections, and incorporating the work of a team of students and scholars at Brown and beyond, Depicting Glory showcases some of the Library’s outstanding collection of rare and historically significant materials from China. Individually and collectively, these materials, created in different times and places, tell an important story about the intersections of power, status, and collective identity — issues central to China’s modernization. The project’s digital structure was mainly designed and built by Brown students, and it incorporates a set of contextual essays inspired by these objects from expert scholars at a number of institutions as well as a Brown student.

The symposium is free and open to the public. Attendance is in-person or on Zoom.

Symposium Program (October 15, 2022)


  • 9:15 – 9:30 a.m. – Viewing articles in Hecker Center (room next to the Digital Scholarship Lab)
  • 9:30 – 9:45 a.m. – Introduction by Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel and Zhuqing Li, Visiting Associate Professor of East Asian Studies and Faculty Curator of East Asian Collections
  • 9:45 – 10:15 a.m. – “Manufacturing Knowledge in Qing China” – KEYNOTE by Peter Perdue, Professor of History, Yale University

10:15 – 10:30 – Break

PANEL ONE: Historical Maps 大清萬年一統天下全圖/台灣歷史地圖
10:30 a.m. – 12 noon

“Complete Map of All Under Heaven Unified by the Great Qing” and “Wall Maps of Chinese History”

  • Laura Hostetler – Professor, Departments of History & Global Asian Studies, University of Illinois, Chicago 

“Introduction to Daqing Wannian Yitong Tianxia Quantu”

  • Matthew Mosca – Associate Professor, History Department, University of Washington

“China’s World Map Transformed: The Complete Map of All under Heaven as Unified by the Qing Great State for Ten Thousand Years”

  • Timothy Brook – Professor of Chinese History, Department of History, University of British Columbia
  • Discussant: Cynthia Brokaw – Chen Family Professor of China Studies, Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Brown University

12 – 1 p.m. – Break

PANEL TWO 欽定平定七省方略圖說
1 – 2 p.m.

“The Early Photographic Reproduction of the Battle Paintings by Qingkuan et al.: the Question of Its Date, Photographer, and Uses”

  • Hongxing Zhang – Senior Curator at Victoria and Albert Museum

“Battle Prints: Photography as Translation in the Nineteenth-century Qing Court”

  • Daniel Greenberg – Assistant Professor, Art History Department, University of Minnesota
  • Discussant: Rebecca Nedostup – Associate Professor of History, Departments of History and East Asian Studies, Brown University

PANEL THREE 欽定平定七省方略圖說
2 – 3 p.m.

“Commemorating Qing Victory: Three Eras”

  • Matthew Mosca – Associate Professor, History Department, University of Washington

“Bureaucracy for Commemorating Wars: Who Illustrated Military Campaign History in the Late Qing – or did they?”

  • Kaijun Chen – Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, Brown University              

Discussant: Jeffrey Moser – Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Brown University

3:00 — 3:15 p.m. – Break

PANEL FOUR: Other Items in the Project (Music and Coin)
3:15 – 3:45 p.m.

“Teaching Imperialism through Music: The Emperor of China’s Band March

  • Laura Stokes – Performing Arts Librarian, Brown University
  • Ding Zhiping – Research Intern, Massachusetts Joint Committee on Export Development
  • Discussant: Zhuqing Li – Visiting Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies; Faculty Curator, Rockefeller Library, Brown University

PANEL FIVE: Digital Technology in Creating the Site
3:45 – 4:15 p.m.

  • Ashley Champagne – Director, Center for Digital Scholarship, Rockefeller Library, Brown University
  • Jacob Yu – Research Assistant, Brown University Computer Science Department              
  • Discussant: Joseph S. Meisel – Joukowsky Family University Librarian, Brown University

Screening and Discussion of Documentary “Beyond the Mask: Paul Laurence Dunbar”

Join the Brown University Library for a screening of the documentary film, Beyond the Mask: Paul Laurence Dunbar, followed by Q&A with filmmaker Frederick Lewis AM ‘83 on Tuesday September 13, 2022 at 4 p.m. in the Lownes Room at the John Hay Library. (Note: This room is at the top of a lengthy stairwell. Please notify us through the RSVP form if you require elevator access or other accommodations.)

Reception with light refreshments at 3:30 p.m. Q&A from 6:15 – 6:45 p.m.

RSVP Required (click to RSVP)

Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the John Hay Library in collaboration with the Rhode Island Black Film Festival.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask

photo of Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask is a feature length documentary about the life and legacy of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906), the first African American poet and writer to gain international fame. Born to enslaved people in Dayton, OH, Dunbar is best remembered for his poem, “We Wear the Mask,” and for the line, “I know why the caged bird sings!” from his poem, “Sympathy,” which became the title of Maya Angelou’s famous autobiography. 

More than ten years in the making, Beyond the Mask received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from Ohio Humanities.

Frederick Lewis

Writer and director Frederick Lewis AM ‘83 is a professor in the School of Media Arts & Studies at Ohio University. His independent documentaries have been seen on PBS stations throughout the U.S. and have been screened at more than 100 cultural and educational venues, including the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the Explorers Club in New York City.

Frederick Lewis AM ’83

Professor Lewis is a recipient of the Presidential Teacher Award, Ohio University’s highest honor for transformative teaching, curriculum innovation and mentoring. He has been a Fulbright Specialist in Hungary and has also taught or lectured in England, Germany, France, Ukraine, Malaysia and Vietnam. He received a master’s degree in Literary Arts from Brown University.

Dunbar and John Hay

In addition to being a statesman, John Hay (1838 – 1905), namesake of the John Hay Library,  was himself a writer of dialect poetry as a young man and supported the artistic efforts of Dunbar and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Rhode Island Black Film Festival

Established in 2017, the Rhode Island Black Film Festival is an independent film festival that focuses primarily on black film—works by Black members of the film industry.  The Film Festival provides a platform for social justice issues and the cultural achievements of African-Americans and persons of African descent.  It is held to recognize achievements of film actors of African descent and to honor films that stand out in their portrayal of Black experience. Beyond the Mask:Paul Laurence Dunbar was among 2017 Film Festival selections of the Rhode Island Black FIlm Festival. For additional information about the Film Festival email [email protected] or call 401-996-1166. 


To request accommodations for a disability-related need, please reach out to [email protected] as far in advance of the event as possible. Thank you.

Exhibit / Akan Gold Weights: Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology Collection

On View: John Hay Library, Willis Reading Room (May 26 – December 16, 2022)

Mrammuo depicting a sawfish (HMA 98-38-50)  Gift of Mr. Peter Klaus and Dr. Anita Klaus.

For centuries the Akan people of West Africa used gold dust as a primary form of currency in everyday transactions and as part of an extensive trade with the North African Muslim states. To measure precise amounts of gold dust, an elaborate system of weights was devised. Akan Gold weights called abrammuo (singular, mrammuo) are closely linked with the Akan verbal arts of proverbs and are visual expressions of Akan culture and values. For the Akan, gold (sika) symbolizes the embodiment of life force (kra) and is considered the partner of the sun on earth.

Dates: May 26 – December 16, 2022
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence