This proposal was written for a meeting attended by the executive staff of New Jersey Network as well as the provosts and deans of New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Rutgers University - Newark.
The proposal begins below:
Chair, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Director, Undergraduate Studies
Program in Professional & Technical Communication
New Jersey Institute of Technology
TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND THE CITY'S FUTURE
Digital Newark represents a plan for developing a community infrastructure based on state-of-the-art communications technologies. In order for Newark to become a world-class city for the twenty-first century, such a plan must be developed to embrace these technologies. Advancements in communications are transforming, in fundamental ways, how people live and work—most of all in the city, that key economic and social establishment. Newark is positioned to take advantage of these changes because of its successful businesses, excellent transportation links, numerous public institutions of culture, healthcare, higher education and scientific research, which serve a vastly diverse population, and a commitment to the Newark Renaissance as symbolized by the attractive $180 million New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Yet successful revitalization will depend on a viable communications model centered on the public interest.
Representatives from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), New
Jersey Network (NJN), and Rutgers University-Newark (R-N), in collaboration
with other leading institutions of Newark, propose to undertake a series
of focused enterprises capitalizing on in-place resources and new opportunities,
with the aim of developing the communications infrastructure the city must
have if it is to thrive. The other leading institutions include the University
of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), as well as the Newark
Public Library, the Newark Museum, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center
(NJPAC), Essex County College (ECC), the Newark Arts Council, and the Regional
Business Partnership (RBP). The first goal of the collaboration would be
a multimedia information campaign about Newark, funding for which has been
planned. Subsequent projects would aim at positioning Newark as a communications,
cultural, educational and commercial hub. Funding for these projects has
been projected and would develop in stages.
Technology and the Twenty-First Century City
Recent progress in computing and telecommunications is making unusual demands on our society and raising fundamental questions about the future of our cities. Will our great urban centers, once the heart of the industrial revolution, continue to thrive? Will the city, as an economic and social construct, be relevant in the future? As communications technology alters our economy, viewing the city as the lodestone of contemporary society becomes increasingly important.
The city's function in our society illuminates the reach of our technological progress. Yet the infrastructure of the modern city—its very conceptualization—is being challenged. The Financial Times observed not long ago that "the design of the digital era will profoundly affect issues such as access to economic opportunities, the nature of public discourse, questions of government, forms of cultural activity, and the make-up of our everyday routines" (29-30 July 1995). These changes will be most evident in the city. While the city will remain, in the next decades, the basis of both industry and discourse, its form will be transformed. Which of the city’s physical structures will endure, and in what capacities, will be determined by virtual structures that, more and more, will condition the daily lives of its citizens.
The city’s evolution was a topic at a recent conference entitled "Urban
Environments and Interactive Technologies." The conference featured William
J. Mitchell, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. The idea of the physical city, in discussion,
was counterposed with that of the virtual city. What foundation might they
share? Mitchell believes "new high speed telecommunications will allow
cities to take new forms and begin to function in new ways." He focused
his remarks on transformative "[h]igh speed telecommunications infrastructures."
Newark and the New Society
Like all cities, Newark will have to change if it is to thrive. And when considered in the light of Mitchell’s remarks, its prognosis is excellent—especially given its resources and current predisposition for change. "If you look back through history," Mitchell asserted, "you see that with the emergence of each of the network infrastructures of the past, such as roads, canals, railroads or electricity, cities have taken new forms and functioned in different ways." Still, Newark’s moment of change is singular. One key factor in the survival of the twenty-first-century city will be adjacency—also crucial to nineteenth- and twentieth-century progress. "Traditionally, adjacency has been a scare resource," Mitchell noted, "since more things needed to be next to each other than you could actually put next to each other." The difference a virtual infrastructure provides is a key to how Newark can be dramatically, and necessarily, transformed. Newark already has the foundation for that virtual infrastructure.
A virtual city, indeed, will do more than merely survive the coming transition. "High speed telecommunications linkages will extend linkages in the same way as transportation did when it was introduced." Now determined to rise from its own ashes, Newark’s potential for making full use of cutting-edge telecommunications systems, in order to maximize its other resources, is great.
Newark is one of the oldest cities in the United States, dating back more than 300 years, with a remarkably rich history many of its citizens know little about. It has experienced a remarkable series of changes long before the current renaissance signaled, with great fanfare, by the opening of the $180 million New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in the fall of 1997. Plans for a new sports complex and a billion-dollar Science Park will add to the sense of momentum generated by NJPAC. Though it faces problems experienced by many inner cities, such as losing a critical mass of middle-class citizens to surrounding suburbs, Newark's future nonetheless looks promising. This city has an impressive infrastructure of successful businesses, excellent transportation links, and numerous public institutions of higher education and culture, which serve one of the most ethnically diverse populations of any major city in the world.
Yet even considering all these strengths, any city not ready to adopt the communications technologies now available will ultimately fail. Indeed, at present, Newark may already be behind the curve of change. Mitchell has noted that a
The Newark community must fully exploit its potential for growth and influence. It is fortunate to have a wealth of public educational, cultural and scientific institutions with great promise for working together to refashion the city into a vibrant and dynamic, twenty-first century urban center. Most of them are located within a few minutes walk from each other, including the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Rutgers University- Newark (R-N), the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), the Rutgers and Seton Hall University law schools, Essex County College (ECC), The Newark Museum, The Newark Public Library, New Jersey Network (NJN), the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the New Jersey Historical Society, Newark Symphony Hall, and the Aljira Center for Contemporary Art.
The physical proximity of these institutions has encouraged collaboration great and modest over many years. Together, they offer more than a dozen co-sponsored degree programs at the undergraduate level and annually attract more than $100 million in research funding. Most recently, the graduate programs at R-N, NJIT and UMDNJ have joined forces to create the Graduate Center of Newark, for the purpose of promoting joint-faculty research, allowing graduate students to take classes and use research facilities on all three campuses, and attracting more research funding to the city. The three programs, collectively, constitute a Carnegie Research I university. As Norman Samuels, R-N Provost, has indicated, resultant new funding will be quite significant. In the words of NJIT's President Saul Fenster, "we can use this synergy, this symbiosis to accomplish more than we could individually"; this cooperation will make the Graduate Center a "very, very robust hub."
NJIT, R-N, and UMDNJ that, among its other accomplishments, is considered to be the largest health science institution in the United States, are also in the process of creating a $1 billion Science Park and a Science Park Academy dedicated to economic, educational and research exchange, and the social cohesion of the universities with local Newark schools and neighborhoods. The universities are also members of the Faculty Alliance for Education, a ten-year effort sponsored by the Ford Foundation to encourage faculty at all of Newark’s postsecondary schools, including Essex County College (ECC), to work with Newark’s public school teachers; the teachers are aided in identifying and then supporting promising students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue further education. Other public, or quasi-public, institutions in Newark (such as those mentioned above) have their own impressive educational outreach programs, some in collaboration with the institutions of higher education, although more collaboration is possible with better communication links and all that can ensue from more substantial relationships.
In addition, the Newark business community is flourishing due in part to new investment from outside its borders. Many corporations find they can maintain a large portion of their operations effectively and efficiently from Newark due to its closeness to New York's business and financial centers. Investors are bidding up and buying real estate in Newark for offices, dormitories, banks and similar facilities. New hospitals are being established along with the burgeoning public health program. A major sports/media complex is under construction, which will draw fans to watch Newark's new minor league baseball team and professional soccer team. Negotiations are also underway to relocate area professional basketball and hockey teams downtown.
The New Jersey Center for Multimedia Research
A relatively new element of Newark's infrastructure, one with great potential for the development of the metropolitan region, is the New Jersey Center for Multimedia Research (NJCMR). Established in 1996 on the campus of NJIT, by the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, the NJCMR integrates world class multimedia research programs at NJIT and Princeton, leveraging their combined intellectual, financial and administrative resources to assist small businesses and large corporations, local schools and public television, federal initiatives and individuals in developing new uses for telecommunications technology. The mission of the NJCMR is to enhance education and industrial competitiveness in New Jersey and the region, and to advance the application of multimedia technologies in learning environments, by creating new tools aimed at addressing educational needs within the State of New Jersey.
The NJCMR recently opened the Multimedia Production and Internet Delivery
Studio (MPIDS), which now makes state-of-the-art multimedia technology
available to such diverse groups as New Jersey high schools, small multimedia
companies, the NJIT Department of Continuing Education, and New Jersey
Network. The MPIDS has seventeen Multimedia production platforms, including
NT, Apple and Silicon Graphics, DVD authoring and webcasting capabilities,
and a RealNetworks Server that provides video streaming, live or on demand.
One of NJCMR’s particularly notable functions is the live webcasting capability
it furnishes NJN, which was first used to provide state and local election
coverage last November. Moreover, the NJCMR is establishing an on-line
archive of NJN programs.
Background of the Proposed Initiative
Cultural Literacy Network
One example of the kind of project a dynamic Newark partnership can foster is an interactive, multimedia network carrying information about cultural programs and performances in the Newark area. This project was explored jointly by NJIT and R-N two years ago, in conjunction with the opening of the $180 million New Jersey Performing Arts Center in the downtown area. The idea for this network was sparked by a funding offer made cooperatively by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. Particularly because NJPAC was overwhelmed as it readied itself for its inaugural season, the project was deferred for a later time. Now in their second season, NJPAC remains interested in the creation of this network.
Such a network would furnish Newark residents with information about cultural events in the city via internet access in public kiosks located in the city's schools, community centers, library, museum, performance spaces and elsewhere. More than merely advertising events, a network of this sort can provide background historical and cultural, and ancillary information. For example, if the Alvin Ailey Dance Company were scheduled to perform at NJPAC, the Cultural Literacy Network would give the dates and times of performances, as well as interactive and multimedia educational material about the history of dance, modern dance, modern music, African-American dance, African-American arts in general, specific background on the performance's choreography, and history.
The possibility of this project brought R-N and NJIT faculty together, and they soon realized that an even more ambitious enterprise could be and should be undertaken. Additionally, at about this time, R-N faculty were already working on convening an Urban Arts Conference.
Urban Arts Conference
In October, 1998, a major international conference was convened in Newark on the theme, Arts Transforming the Urban Environment, bringing together artists, scholars in many disciplines, architects and urban planners, and representatives of arts organizations from across the nation and abroad, to initiate a dialogue with members of the Newark community. The purpose of the conference was to provide a wealth of outside experience and ideas to help stimulate the revival and growth of Newark as an important cultural center. A critically significant conference follow-up activity, planned from the beginning, was the development of an arts agenda for the Newark metropolitan region through a series of meetings involving local arts and cultural organizations.
Co-sponsored by the R-N Department of Visual and Performing Arts, The Newark Museum, and NJPAC, the conference planning effort, and related follow up activities, repeatedly brought together representatives of nearly all the leading educational and cultural organizations in Newark, including NJIT, UMDNJ, NJN, the Newark Public Library, the New Jersey Historical Association, and ECC (a complete list of conference participants and sponsors, day by day program, and hyperlinked ancillary information is available via the Internet at: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/urbanarts). The most recent meeting of these groups, in order to develop a cultural agenda for the Newark, this time convened by the Newark Arts Council, was held at UMDNJ in late March.
Newark as a Model City for Public-Interest Telecommunications
Two particular speakers at the urban arts conference conveyed a powerful vision for telecommunications in the digital era, with special relevance for Newark. One was Lawrence K. Grossman, former president of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) News, and author of The Electronic Republic: Reshaping Democracy in the Information Age; the other was Richard Somerset-Ward, former head of Music and Cultural Programming for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and author of a major study on the future of digital television, commissioned in behalf of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Each man, in his own way, advocated a new "grand alliance" of public broadcasting stations, universities, museums, libraries, schools and cultural organizations, which would make innovative use of the digital media. Grossman stressed three major reasons for such an alliance:
This change in the quality of broad- as well as narrow-casting can be summed up as a shift in cultural communications values, which has meant that sensation and celebrity now take precedence over matters of substance. The First Amendment severely limits what the government can do to address this issue. For example, the steady erosion of educational programming for children on commercial television in the 1980s, a direct result of relaxed federal regulation, prompted Congress to pass the Children's Television Act of 1990, in an effort to restore minimal standards in this area. In response, some stations claimed that programs like GI Joe and The Flintstones were indeed educational, and thus they fulfilled their obligation under the law. After years of studies and hearings contesting the vague requirements of the Act, the results have been less than satisfactory.
It is not at all clear what public interest requirements, if any, will be made of the broadcasters to whom Congress recently voted to give, without charge, spectrum licenses worth tens of billions of dollars to broadcast digital signals. For the past two years a special commission, convened by Vice President Al Gore, has been studying the issue; but the highly effective broadcasting lobby is using its considerable leverage with Congress to ensure that public interest requirements, to be determined over the next several years, will be minimal.
Both Grossman and Somerset-Ward believe telecommunications technology, in the digital era, calls for a new level of cooperation on the part of the leading educational and cultural institutions in every community committed to addressing these issues. A useful model in Grossman's view is the Land Grant Colleges Act of 1862, which sets aside a portion of public land in every state to be sold off for the purpose of financing state universities. In another recent lecture, Grossman explained his position in more detail: "Today's equivalent of 19th century public land is the publicly owned telecommunications spectrum, electronic real estate worth tens of billions of dollars." A small portion, he argues, should be set aside
Newark Partnership Projects
There is tremendous potential within Newark to carry out many interrelated projects that can foster growth and dynamism and be appropriate to rapidly transforming economic, social, and technological infrastructures. Brief descriptions of some typical projects follow. Some of these projects are quite substantial, and would have to be developed in stages—that is, with some projects growing from others.
This group of projects is the result of discussions with NJIT and R-N faculty and staff members, following the urban arts conference. The projects would constitute the specific goals of the greater Newark Partnerships undertaking, and would be overseen by a task force comprised of representatives from our universities and NJN, and others such as, perhaps, from the Newark Public Library. The task force would function as a coordinator of the overall Newark Partnerships effort. A discussion of this task force can be found at the end of this proposal.
The most important criterion for any project is its contribution toward forging the type of "grand alliance" of institutions in Newark articulated by Grossman and Somerset-Ward. With this understanding, the projects below are arranged in a working schema as a suggested approach. Thus, they begin with a pilot, start-up initiative that has the virtue of being successful with only minimal funding yet that will bring Newark stakeholders together in order to carry out other, subsequent projects jointly. The pilot project is especially important because it will result in a momentum and will have yielded the kind of strong working relationship among its participants that only comes through experience.
The overall Newark Partnerships effort is too ambitious and substantial
to occur all at once. Therefore, as already suggested, the proposed projects
should go forward as part of a multi-staged funding plan; three phases
are envisioned. Each phase would require progressively greater financial
backing. A discussion of funding follows these project descriptions.
PHASE ONE PROJECT
A basic tenet of digital media is the ease with which they integrate media forms. Text, graphics, photographs, audio, video and animated sequences can readily become elements in a program for broadcast, cablecast, webcast, CD-ROM or DVD (digital video disk), by using technology that grows more available and sophisticated every day. In producing projects for public distribution, in a combination of these formats, Newark Partnerships will establish the fact that it represents a new form of communication for the community.
The Digital Newark enterprise (for which this proposal is named) will produce content for simultaneous distribution via four distinct media:
Cross-references to the availability of additional information in the other media will be a hallmark of Digital Newark. Thus, broadcast and cablecast television programs will contain references to the Digital Newark website, while the website will contain the program schedule for the television programs, as well as information regarding access to related material on CD-ROMs and DVDs.
Programs for broadcast on NJN would be professionally produced. Programs for cablecast would be produced by students, faculty and staff of R-N and NJIT, students and faculty of the Newark public schools, and NJN staff members. A two-hour block of original programming would be repeated at various times throughout the day. Program elements could run from a few minutes to half an hour, with regular references to additional information via the Digital Newark website.
Dramatic improvements in small format video cameras and non-linear editing facilities make it possible for students at the secondary and post-secondary levels to develop their production and journalistic skills while simultaneously providing the public with information about culture, education and community life in Newark, which otherwise would not be available. Such experiential learning is an innovative approach to education, which takes students and instructors out of the classroom, providing a critically important "real world" component to learning. With established production and editorial criteria maintained by R-N, NJIT, UMDNJ and NJN, the daily availability of this local cable channel, over time, could attract a sizeable local audience and begin to encourage greater participation in Newark’s civic activities.
One particular gain from this project would be the knitting of disparate
elements in the Newark community: business, schools and colleges, science,
technology and healthcare, culture and the arts.
Cultural Agenda Production
Using the best elements of the videotaped record of the urban arts conference, NJN and R-N will jointly produce a half-hour program about the ideas expressed at the conference. Interviews with the key people responsible for developing the conference will convey to the public the purpose of the conference and the follow-up effort to develop a cultural agenda for Newark. NJN, NJIT and R-N will collaborate on making as much information as possible about these matters available via the Internet, and on producing a CD-ROM for distribution to all conference participants, local and regional arts organizations, and local schools. Finally, the group will collaborate in the production of a televised town meeting that will focus local attention on the development of an arts agenda for Newark, the principal follow up activity of the conference. This event will both draw upon and highlight the existence of the Digital Newark network of communications.
As well, the Digital Newark project will establish a small office, set up an administrative procedure, and begin the effort of:
Phase One Project Costs (itemized)
Project: Newark Cultural Agenda Multimedia Production
Time frame: May 1999 - December 1999
Project: Digital Newark Network Development
Time frame: September 1999 - December 2000
Phase One Project Total Costs (Stages One and Two)
Project: Digital Newark
Time frame: May 1999 - December 2000
PHASE TWO PROJECTS
Several projects are offered here as further possibilities well suited
to a "grand alliance" of institutions in Newark as part of the Newark Partnerships
effort, with special regard for public interest telecommunications, as
The Virtu-Real City: A Digital Newark Conference
The influence of cyberspace on physical space and human interaction is a subject of growing importance that is rife with speculation of the kind giving rise to this present proposal. The remarkable advent of electronic networking at the end of the twentieth century has produced a new frontier for the human imagination with large implications for society. Critic Robert Bove warns: "Except for the walled-in well-to-do, the rest of us may end up living in a papier-mâché pseudo-society at best, a continental ghost town at worst." In general, with international and interdisciplinary participation, the Virtu-Real City conference would focus on the future of urban life as it will continue to be affected by modern communications technology.
Two leading thinkers, who have written with great insight on this subject, have agreed to participate in an intellectual dialogue on the future of "The Electronic Agora." The first is Christine Boyer, William R. Kenan Professor of Architecture at Princeton University, and author of Cybercities: Visual Perception in the Age of Electronic Communication. Boyer fears that people will find the world of cyberspace so compelling that they will spend ever less time interacting face to face with people in physical space, which could have a profound effect on the very civilization of cities. The second key speaker is William Mitchell, Dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, and author of City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infobahn, and E-Topia: Cities in a Digital Age. Some of his ideas, of course, help form the basis of this proposal’s "Introduction."
A Digital Newark Conference would also focus attention on the work of the NJCMR with various schools, groups and businesses in the community, through hosting panels and demonstrations by leading experts from across the country who make innovative use of telecommunications technology, particularly in education and electronic commerce. Just as the Urban Arts Conference brought innovative people and ideas to Newark in order to stimulate thinking about the use of the arts, as a central element in revitalization of downtown Newark, a Digital Newark Conference will similarly bring fresh ideas and new energy to the city’s existing "stealth infrastructure."
A Digital Newark Conference would be the perfect organizing event to call attention to a fully operative NewarkNet, a digital communications network that would seamlessly integrate text, hypertext (Internet links to additional information or websites accessible with point and click technology), and other media, in an interactive network to achieve common goals. These linkages already exist—to an extent—yet they are far from being optimalized. A concerted effort will garner great rewards for this endeavor, as has been indicated by William Long in the New York Times, who has reported on "the growing trend of community websites maintained by neighborhood groups and other community organizations."
Within a large network there can be the following sub-networks, all of which can be interlinked variously to other subnetworks.
HealthNet A network that integrates various health-care enterprises within the local medical community, as well as beyond it, with individuals and groups who have a commitment to local healthcare; this network can further our newly burgeoning and exciting public health initiatives.
Science Park Network A network that integrates the various contributors to science park: the universities, Newark school system, and incubator companies. This network can promote science and technology literacy, and can maintain a special tie with the larger Newark business community (especially via BusinessNet).
ArtsNet A network delivering information and ideas about art, and interconnecting arts organizations.
BusinessNet A network that integrates businesses among themselves, with city government, and educational and research institutions.
Newark History Project
A project entitled "Education, Culture, and Lifelong Learning," currently proposed by Professor Gary Thomas, Co-Director of NJIT’s Multimedia Research Center, calls for the creation of a multimedia Internet educational site for K-12 teachers. The site would
(Qtd from Professor Thomas’ whitepaper)
NJN is only one of several sources. As well, "local and state-wide historical
societies collect material that could enrich social-studies classes if
it were made available to teachers and children in a form that was searchable
and made conveniently accessible" (Thomas’s whitepaper). A major goal of
this project is to make a vast array of historical material accessible
to teachers, students and researchers, which will enrich and inform the
renaissance of Newark.
Laboratory for Electronic Literature and Art (LELA)
Digital technology is everywhere, changing the whole nature of education in our society. This means that professors and students from all disciplines need to be prepared to read and transmit their work in new ways via the computer. This lab (being proposed by Professors David Rothenberg and Christopher Funkhouser of NJIT) will permit local writers, scholars and researchers to expand their understanding and practice of developing design techniques in electronic art, design, and writing. The majority of scholars need access to knowledgeable instructors with an understanding of their discipline, and state-of-the-art equipment to enable them to explore and perform what can be done with such technology in their areas of interest.
Such a lab can serve multiple purposes. LELA will help to establish
a higher standard to guide the development of interactive literature, by
producing high quality work in the lab and by assisting students to do
the same. The focus of the lab will be to create powerful interactive multimedia
documents that incorporate language, speaking, and thinking with video
and visual aspects of computerized text. The lab would utilize hardware
and software powerful enough to combine graphics, sound, animation, text
and video into compelling content that finds a national and international
Letters to a Burned Church
Reacting to the rash of church arsons in the South, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Urban League established a rebuild-the-church fund through a nationwide advertising campaign under the heading, "The Fires of Hate Consume Us All." The campaign brought in a large number of touching letters from people in all walks of life and of all ages.
Using a readers theater format, NJIT’s Professor Michael Kerley has combined some of these letters, which were published in An American Testament: Letters to the Burned Churches, with original music, speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., student testimonies, and Jewish prayers, to create a moving tribute to the legacy of hate crimes and prejudice suffered by Blacks and Jews. This production’s performers come from Solomon Schecter School in West Orange, NJ; Kerley directs the production. It has been performed in front of a variety of audiences in the greater Newark area, and has been received with great enthusiasm. It is scheduled to receive low-budget video taping by NJN, and its future plans include collaborations with Newark youth under the auspices of the Newark Museum, culminating in performances at NJPAC.
The digital recording of a live performance of "Letters," which could
be then be established on a multimedia website, along with ancillary materials
in hypertext format, could serve in a number of educational and other venues,
in a powerful fashion. "Letters" has been designed for a range of audiences
including student organizations, black churches, Black History Month events,
social studies and history classes, and Martin Luther King celebrations,
and, as mentioned, is potentially a production to be performed at NJPAC,
as well as a traveling museum exhibit.
The Newark Review
This journal, devoted primarily to unpublished literature, is already
established on-line, having published three issues edited by Funkhouser.
However, realizing its potential will depend to a degree on a fully evolved
network. The Newark Review was listed among the top five electronic
arts journals by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Typical of many distance learning projects being undertaken at our various
educational institutions is a proposal by NJIT’s Professor Nancy Coppola
entitled "Becoming a Virtual Professor: Asynchronous Learning Networks
and the Role of Faculty in the University," whose premise is that Computer-Mediated
Communication (CMC) Systems can be structured and enhanced to support many
types of group work, including learning. One increasingly prevalent use
of CMC is to support educational delivery, particularly at the university
level. This virtual university has profoundly changed the nature of education,
with cognate effects for faculty. This proposed undertaking would provide
the first qualitative research findings on faculty perceptions of teaching
and learning using new technology. A longitudinal study, it would be conducted
across three universities, cross-checked with quantitative data, and the
findings generalized through international web-based surveys. A coordinating
committee, which would work closely with the Newark Partnerships, could
facilitate various distance learning efforts.
Ph.D. in Communications
Sponsored jointly by NJIT and R-N, with the participation of other institutions,
a doctoral program in Communications, based in Newark, will attract talented
young researchers as well as world-class scholars and practitioners in
the various Communications fields. The degree would feature a number of
disciplinary tracks (e.g., Business Communication, Culture of Communication
Studies, Graphical Design, Information Science, Journalism, Linguistics,
Medical Informatics, Radio and Television, Technical Communication, etc.),
which could bring students and faculty together around the fundamental
problem of what will constitute, essentially, future communication in our
society. This kind of activity can lead to an even more ambitious goal,
a Newark School of Communications (see below).
Newark School of Communications
United by a single, generative communications paradigm, this school
might encompass various disciplines (Business Communication, Culture of
Communication Studies, Graphical Design, Information Science, Journalism,
Linguistics, Medical Informatics, Radio and Television, Technical Communication,
etc.). Apparently, the closest like school to this one being proposed is
of Northwestern University, although it is not as comprehensive as what
is being proposed here. Yet considering how radically and quickly our ideas
about what constitutes communication are being transformed, there should
be a comprehensive school, and intellectual center, closer to home. The
core of such a school's faculty is already present in Newark, in its educational
and other institutions.
Phase Two Project Costs
Cost: $3 million
Time Frame: 2000 – 2002
At this time no Phase Three projects are being proposed, but a projected funding and time frame might be as follows.
Cost: $3 million.
Time Frame: 2002 - ?
Initial Funding Sources
In the initial meeting at NJN, to discuss the steps needed to form a local public interest telecommunications alliance (see "Background" section, above), Lawrence Grossman and Richard Somerset-Ward made several specific recommendations for sources of funding. Grossman suggested the lead institutions form a select committee or Task Force (see below) to represent the project, which would include the executive leadership of local educational and cultural institutions, as well as community and regional leaders in the forefront in revitalizing Newark. Elizabeth Christopherson recommended that Thomas Kean, the President of Drew University, Chairman of the Carnegie Corporation, and former Governor of New Jersey, would be an excellent candidate to recruit for this committee, for many reasons, but particularly because of the key role he played in committing substantial state funds to the building of NJPAC in Newark.
With that Task Force in place, the process of finding foundation support should begin with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, for several reasons. Carnegie was instrumental in the creation and development of public television by convening two major commissions (1967 and 1979) to assess the need for such an institution, to make specific recommendations regarding the organizational structure, and to provide support. In addition to its major historical commitment to public broadcasting, the current president of the Carnegie Corporation, Vartan Gregorian, has a distinguished background in the very areas this project seeks to bring together. Not only has Gregorian been involved, for many years, in strengthening public television as an institution, his previous positions he held, before coming to Carnegie, were Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, President of the New York Public Library and President of Brown University. Gregorian is interested in Grossman's idea of bringing together an alliance of institutions, and has discussed it with him.
Another excellent source to approach is the Ford Foundation. Like Carnegie, the Ford Foundation has played a prominent role in the development of public broadcasting, providing major support at critical times in its evolution. Ford has also been very involved in supporting urban development in Newark. Particularly relevant to this proposal is the long-term support Ford has provided for the Faculty Alliance for Education described earlier (in the section, Newark’s "Stealth Infrastructure"). This project brings together several major interests of the foundation's program.
A possible source of support with a special interest in new uses of communications technology is the Markle Foundation. For decades, Markle has supported innovative public interest communications projects, most notably the creation of the Children's Television Workshop, the organization that produced Sesame Street in the late 1960s. Public interest communications has been a policy interest of the Markle Foundation for decades, and Zoë Baird, the new president of Markle, has shown interest in the alliance concept. Other key individuals are interested in the idea—particularly Newton Minow, former Chairman of the FCC in the Kennedy administration, most known for his characterization of American television as a "vast wasteland."
Both Grossman and Somerset-Ward suggested that considerable funds could be raised from state and local sources. Governor Rowland of Connecticut recently earmarked $10 million for Connecticut Public Television to convert their facilities to make full use of their new digital frequencies for serving the public interest. Governor Whitman, someone with a long and positive working relationship with NJN, undoubtedly would be willing to consider providing state support for the alliance outlined in this proposal, something with clear potential to benefit the Newark metropolitan region.
Last, they suggested that all of the corporate, foundation and individual donors who contributed to building NJPAC be approached to support this project, with the argument that it represents a relatively small, but key investment in the revitalization of Newark, one that will help to bring the wealth of arts and educational opportunities to the entire Newark community.
Somerset-Ward stressed that the combined universities have a tremendous asset in their students and faculty who could be enlisted in researching and identifying state and local resources to support this project, while simultaneously developing policy proposals for ongoing state and federal support. He also recommended that a high quality video be produced to articulate powerfully what this alliance is about, what it is doing and how it is working. Such a video could convey quickly and effectively what otherwise would require a fairly lengthy description in print, so that anyone might grasp the concept. As this project gets underway, Somerset-Ward offered to help obtain the resources needed to produce such a video; the video would be a vital tool for further development.
Both Grossman and Somerset-Ward are keenly aware that there is a narrow
time frame to develop a demonstration project could influence public policy
as it pertains to the public interest obligations of those receiving digital
frequencies worth tens of billions of dollars. In their view, that policy
issue will be decided within the next several years. Hence, there is an
urgent need to make a compelling case through projects like those described
herein for setting aside a portion of the nation’s electromagnetic resources
to support such local alliances. Their reasoning is quite similar to the
concept used to establish land grant universities in every state more than
one hundred thirty-five years ago. The passage of such legislation could
bring about a similar revolution in education with great long-term benefit
to American society.
Other Funding Sources
Other Funding sources, especially for sustaining phases two and three of this overall initiative, might include the National Institutes of Health, especially for projects aimed at community outreach of medical services; the National Science Foundation, for projects aimed at developing communications hardware and software and distance learning programs and their evaluation; the National Endowment for the Arts, for projects aimed at growing artistic and generally cultural community relations and initiatives; and the National Endowment for the Humanities for projects aimed at delivering educational and otherwise cultural programs.
It is worth noting that the planning of the Cultural Literacy Network
(see above) was instigated by a joint NSF-NEH grant offering, and that
Burt Kimmelman, at that time, was told by a grants officer in Washington
DC that the plan for the network would almost certainly have been funded.
Since then, NSF and NEH have combined several times to create various "teaching
with technology" or "university-community technology collaboration" grant
A working group, perhaps comprised of someone representing NJMCR, two
representatives from each institution of higher education, and someone
from NJN, and possibly representatives from, for example, the Newark Public
Library and the Newark Museum, should be formed for the primary purpose
of designing and implementing projects within the parameters of this Digital
Communications and Newark’s Future proposal, and securing funds for those
projects. This team could also assist in securing support for as well as
in implementing future projects originating beyond its sphere of immediate