Liberal Arts Research and Scholarly Work newsletter

Vol. 11, Issue 11


David Nickerson, Professor, Political Science


Given the demands of daily life, the unpleasantness of partisan polarization, and technological distractions, getting people to participate in civic life can be a challenge. I measure the effectiveness of outreach from campaigns, organizations, and governments encouraging people to volunteer, vote, or simply sign up for benefits. Collaborating with organizations, I conducted randomized controlled experiments to accurately measure the cost effectiveness of competing tactics and identify the types of people responsive to the outreach.

A recent project focuses on understanding the politics of using stadiums as voting centers. Between pressure from professional athletes concerned with racial justice and the desire of local officials to provide a safe means of casting ballots, many sports arenas around the country were used in the election. The collaborative project (with colleagues from Harvard, Columbia, Rice, and the University of Maryland) is in the middle of interviewing team and election officials, surveying voters, and analyzing patterns in voter turnout to provide best practices for using non-traditional locations for voting.

I try to choose research projects that help government and civic organizations work better for all people. Collaborating with organizations is key to my work in forging concrete improvements based on the research being accomplished. My collaborations are also vital in helping me learn about communities while implementing programs alongside people with hard won practical expertise. Learn more here .



Empire of Ruins

~Miles Orvell (Professor, English and American Studies)

Empire of Ruins, winner of the Association of American Publishers 2022 Prose Award in the Media and Cultural Studies category, explains why Americans in the nineteenth century yearned for the ruins of Rome and Egypt and how they portrayed a past as ancient and mysterious in the remains of Native American cultures. As the romance of ruins gave way to twentieth-century capitalism, older structures were demolished to make way for grander ones, a process interpreted by artists as a symptom of America's "creative destruction." In the late twentieth century, Americans began to inhabit a perpetual state of ruins, made visible by photographs of decaying inner cities, derelict factories and malls, and the waste lands of the mining industry. This interdisciplinary work focuses on how visual media have transformed disaster and decay into spectacles that compel our moral attention even as they balance horror and beauty. Looking to the future, my book considers the visual portrayal of climate ruins as we face the political and ethical responsibilities of our changing world.

The project has many sources, going back to a long-term interest in seeing how things fall apart and become junk, rubbish, waste. Philadelphia (decaying factories and neighborhoods) was a constant, and photographs of ruins in cities generally inspired me. I was awestruck by 9/11, watching it on TV and in photographs. Then Katrina and the aftermath, climate ruins, the ruins of war. It's impossible to turn away from ruins in the 21st century and the future of ruins. I wanted to figure out--why the fascination? What did they mean, especially to American culture, and over the last 150 years or more.



Featured this month is a recently funded project by the William Penn Foundation to establish a community based Translation Institute in the College of Liberal Arts which will provide free translation and interpretation services for community organizations providing critical support to children and families in Philadelphia communities. The concept of the Institute developed from requests received by two entities within the College: the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the College of Liberal Arts. Jointly, these departments will support the development and growth of the Institute to better meet the needs of resource-strapped organizations looking to make their resources and services more accessible for households with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The work of the CLA Translation Institute will build upon translation projects that have been undertaken by the Spanish Department informally over the past several years.

In 2018, the census estimated the Latinx population in Philadelphia to be 15% of the total population. The Pew foundation reports that the Latinx population has the highest poverty rate in Philadelphia, 37.9% and the Census Report compiled census data indicating that the number of Spanish speakers in 2019 was 13%, double the rate of Pennsylvania. Although Executive Order 13066 from 2000 states that LEP individuals should have access to services and programs in their own language, the reality is that the cost of professional translators and interpreters can be prohibitive to resource-strapped organizations. When they don’t know where to turn, the result is inadequate translations from online programs, ad hoc interpreters, often children in the family, or no access at all. The newly created Office of Community Engagement (OCE) in CLA helmed by Heather Lewis-Weber will allow for an infrastructure that expands the capacity of the Spanish Department while guaranteeing a timely delivery of translations.



  • Barbara Ferman (Political Science) has received continuation funding for the project entitled, "Out of School Time Programming," from the Public Health Management Corporation.

  • For the project entitled, "Improving Everyday Task Performance Through Repeated Practice In Virtual Reality," Tania Giovannetti (Psychology and Neuroscience) has received continuation funding from the National Institutes of Health.

  • Anthony Luongo (Criminal Justice) has received new funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime And Delinquency entitled, "Constable and Deputy Sheriff Curriculum Development."



Temple University Funding Opportunities Portal

InfoReady, OVPR's funding opportunities portal, houses internal funding program mechanisms and externally sponsored limited submission competitions. Log in today to access your account and review current opportunities.



Research Grants on Education: Small

Spencer Foundation

Proposal Deadline: April 12, 2022

Letters of Interest: Multidisciplinary interventions that respond to, mitigate, and prevent distress among those least able to care for themselves

Grodman Family Foundation

Deadline: Open



A Conversation with Katina Rogers

-presented by CHAT

Katina Rogers is an independent educational consultant and author of Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and beyond the Classroom.

February 16th at 12:30PM

Register here

NIH Update Reminder

As of 1/25/2022, NIH is now requiring SF424 Version G to be used for grant applications. If applying this spring, CLA Research Administration will ensure you are using the correct version of items. A summary of significant changes are listed here.


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