February 23, 2011

Is Your Privacy Safe Online?

Preliminary results from an ongoing study conducted by Ball State University's Center for Media Design (CMD) revealed interesting data on internet users’ perceptions of online security and privacy. Titled "Notions of Privacy: Ignorance, Illusion or Miscommunication," the main focus for this phase in the study was to understand how people felt about having their personal information tracked online.

Researchers found that the views of many respondents varied when sharing their personal information with different organizations. This was mainly attributed to the perceived benefits and security risks associated with how organizations might use the data, with most respondents feeling comfortable sharing information on sites such as Facebook and Amazon because of their transparency with users. Other key findings of the study revealed that privacy can also depend on other factors such as (1) the context of the consumer, (2) the nature of the information being tracked, and (3) the organizations that are tracking it.

How about you? Do you feel safe online? Feel free to leave your comments below. You can also visit MediaPost News to read the full article that highlights the CMD's research findings.

For more information about CMD Insight & Research, please visit their blog at http://www.researchcmd.com/.

February 22, 2011

Summer Immersive Learning Opportunities through Building Better Communities

Building Better Communities Fellows is an immersive learning program at Ball State University in which faculty and students find real-world solutions to real-world problems for Indiana businesses and organizations. Check out BBC's current and recent projects.

Funded in part by the Lilly Endowment Inc., the Fellows program engages interdisciplinary teams of students led by a faculty mentor in on-site, problem-based projects. BBC Fellows assist the local economy by focusing on directly improving services, developing new job opportunities, improving quality, or improving competitiveness for our business and community partners.

Building Better Communities Fellows is now recruiting students for the following summer projects:
  • High Riding Art and Equestrian Camp (Summer Session I)
  • East Central Indiana Youth Health and Wellness Camp (May 9-June 17)
  • Digital Archeology Simulation (Summer Session II)
Apply now or find out more about the projects listed above by visiting our website.
Questions? Contact Ruth Coffey at 765-285-1817.

BBC Fellows now recruiting for spring projects
Fall 2010 Fellows Immersive Learning Showcase: December 8

February 18, 2011

NEH Fellowships: Deadline May 3, 2011

Fellowships support individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both. Recipients usually produce articles, monographs, books, digital materials, archaeological site reports, translations, editions, or other scholarly resources in the humanities. Projects may be at any stage of development.

Fellowships support continuous full-time work for a period of six to twelve months.

Fellowships may not be used for:

  • projects that seek to promote a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view;
  • projects that advocate a particular program of social action;
  • specific policy studies;
  • research for doctoral dissertations or theses by students enrolled in a degree program;
  • the preparation or revision of textbooks;
  • curriculum development;
  • the development of pedagogical tools (including teaching methods or theories);
  • educational or technical impact assessments;
  • the creation or enhancement of databases, unless part of a larger interpretive project;
  • empirical social science research, unless part of a larger humanities project;
  • inventories of collections; or
  • works in the creative and performing arts, i.e., painting, writing fiction or poetry, dance performance, etc.

More information & full guidelines: http://www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/fellowships.html

While applicants need not have advanced degrees, individuals currently enrolled in a degree-granting program are ineligible to apply. Graduate students seeking support for a degree in the humanities should consider the Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program.

Interested? Please contact your department or unit's Proposal Manager in the Sponsored Programs Office.

February 10, 2011

A Green Solution to Housing Pollution

“Rather than just talking about rebuilding the community, Jonathan Spodek and his collaboration with the Muncie community are making a visible difference.” –Steve Herron, Graduate Student, Architecture

Whether it’s green cars, green energy, or green business practices, the word “green” seems to have found its way into every aspect of our daily lives as a symbol of a more responsible, sustainable world. However, as our nation continues to pour millions of dollars into green technologies, is the possibility of a green lifestyle a truly sustainable idea?

Jonathan Spodek
Ball State Associate Professor of Architecture, Jonathan Spodek, believes it is and has spent the last 20 years building on his vision of a greener community—literally. Spodek specializes in rehabilitation construction techniques that use pre-existing (often abandoned) homes to create more eco-friendly structures.

Utilizing this knowledge, and seeing a need to address the growing number of abandoned homes in Muncie, Spodek, in true entrepreneurial spirit and together with Bill Morgan, Muncie's historic preservation officer, founded EcoREHAB, a not-for-profit organization. The new non-profit qualified for receiving an $85,000 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Building on the HUD funding and in collaboration with EcoREHAB and the Muncie Unsafe Building Authority, the Ball Brothers Foundation funded Ball State with a $75,000 award to launch the city’s first EcoREHAB Model Home and Assistance Center under Spodek’s project direction. The major goals of the project are to:
  1. Rehabilitate existing houses while promoting and following sustainable building practices.
  2. Provide an immersive learning experience for Ball State University students.
  3. Establish a design assistance center for private home owners and other non-profit entities that provide technical assistance in sustainable design.
  4. Offer outreach training programs to communities, community development corporations, and individuals on methods of integrating similar programs.
Spodek and his dedicated team of students have already met their main objectives. In fall 2010, the first EcoREHAB home was built, and construction is already underway to develop a second EcoREHAB home.

Floor Plan A (click to enlarge)

Floor Plan B (click to enlarge)

With a focus on eco-friendly architecture, don’t expect to see “Jetsons”-inspired homes with fancy gizmos and equipment. Spodek explains, “It’s not just about expensive technology. When we’re finished, these are not million dollar showcase homes; they’re projects that are environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and affordable.” This, he believes, should be the ultimate goal of a building project and hopes to teach his students that good design goes beyond aesthetics. “Good design,” he says, “addresses a human need. A quality place to live is a fundamental need, and if we can accomplish that, that’s good design.”

More than just an in-class assignment, the project allows students to fully immerse themselves in what they’ve learned, something that Steve Herron, an architecture graduate student, really appreciates. “It’s about getting your hands dirty,” he said, “and learning through doing, as opposed to just reading and listening.” Historic Preservation major, Julie Collier, echoes these sentiments and adds, “I think sitting in a classroom can be stifling sometimes. It’s engaging to be in a nontraditional learning environment. At least for me, it has been a very beneficial experience.”

Of course rehabilitating existing abandoned homes into green homes does not come without its share of challenges—rotting wood, unstable roofing, and broken sewer lines, to name a few. However, for Spodek and his band of strong-willed students, this project not only represents a way to gain experience, but also symbolizes a tangible effort to help rebuild the infrastructure in some of Muncie’s most at-risk residential areas. “It’s really a great cause for the entire community of Muncie,” said Julie. “I think it’s a great thing Jonathan Spodek is doing and he just pours his whole life into it—it’s admirable. He expects a lot, but he gives a lot too.”

It is uncertain if the future rests solely on green technology, but at least for the city of Muncie, a professor and his students are committed to building a brighter future for their community—one home at a time.

You can find more information on this project on the BSU website at "Fighting Blight," or by contacting Professor Jonathan Spodek at 765-285-1919 or jspodek@bsu.edu.

From TheChronicle.com: How Your Grant Proposal Compares

Competition in the grant world is fierce. While a good idea is essential to a winning grant proposal, it certainly isn't enough to win. David A. Stone is director of the Office of Sponsored Projects at Northern Illinois University. In his article "How Your Grant Proposal Compares" from The Chronicle of Higher Education's July 29, 2009 edition, Stone gives some advice for newbies and seasoned professionals on how to effectively position your grant proposal and your idea so you stand a fighting chance.

Integrate teaching and service into research proposals. The reach of well-positioned proposals extends beyond the scientific exercise itself. The clear expectation among grant agencies, large and small, is that research projects make an impact on the world around them. Two ways in which that can be demonstrated in a proposal are to reference integration of the project with teaching and service. The National Science Foundation, for example, requires that proposals demonstrate the ways in which students will be involved in and learn from research projects. It also anticipates that work done in the lab will find its way back to the classroom; the more explicit attention you give that transmission in the text of your proposal, the better.

Full Text: http://chronicle.com/article/How-Your-Grant-Proposal/47471/?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

February 03, 2011

Searching for federal grants online

From The Grantsmanship Center's {CENTERED}
The federal government has put the Internet to work in many ways to increase access to grant information. Grantseekers will find several databases that aid in the search for federal dollars and detailed background information on specific grant programs.

Before starting a search, remember:
  1. Federal grant funds are, in general, highly targeted. If you start the process thinking, "There has to be money for my project," you may be disappointed. Congress and the administration have their agendas for what they seek to accomplish through grant funding. Operating funds and funding for purely local projects are harder to find than funding for short-term projects that have the potential either to generate information or to speed the adoption of contemporary methods for dealing with entrenched problems.
  2. There are many agencies, and they announce and process their grant applications in as many ways. It is important to think broadly, use your imagination, and be persistent.
  3. Some of the programs you think belong in one agency are housed elsewhere. The Department of Labor has education money, the Department of Agriculture has economic development money, and the Army pays for medical research.
  4. As useful as the databases are, they all have their limitations. It's important to recognize those limitations and try a variety of strategies.
  5. Commercial publishers use the free federal databases to create their own publications. While these online newsletters can be helpful, they often provide no more information than is available on the free federal web sites, and they are out of date almost immediately.
  6. Use search terms that are relatively broad and focus on the need and population of need, not on the specific methodology for which you are seeking funds.
The objective in your search is to find the federal agencies and departments with priorities that are aligned with your community's needs. You may find that they previously had grant programs that could have met your needs, but do not at this moment. Research on these agencies, and discussions with their staff, may provide leads on how your agency can access resources. The staff may point to another federal agency with similar programs. They may know of grants made to states that are supposed to be regranted at the local level.

NIH Policy Changes: A Summary

Policy Change/UpdateEffective Date
All applications must be submitted in response to an funding opportunity announcement9/25/10
New policy on post-submission application materials9/25/10
Revised NIH Grants Policy Statement effective10/1/10
Transparency Act reporting for all new awards10/1/10
Multi-year funded award progress reports submitted electronically12/22/10
Mandatory use of XTrain1/1/11
New page limits for career awards1/7/11
End of A2 submissions1/7/11
Time limit for resubmissions1/25/11
Adobe forms B1 required for F,K,T, and D apps1/25/11
End of two-day error correction window1/25/11
Expenditure data submitted via FFR2/1/11
New reference letter due dates4/8/11 and 6/12/11
Adobe forms B1 for all electronic apps5/7/11
Late submission policyn/a
**Taken from NIH Extramural Nexus Blog**