Last Monday, nine scholars from three academic associations met with Wiki Education staff for the very first meeting of our new Wikipedia Fellows pilot!
The idea behind Wikipedia Fellows is inspired by our Future of Facts initiative, to help subject-matter experts contribute to the most socially and politically relevant Wikipedia articles. For years, we have supported students contributing to Wikipedia for a class assignment, and have frequently heard from academics requesting similar support to help them learn to contribute. We’re excited now to pilot such a program in collaboration with our partners at the American Sociological Association (ASA), Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), and the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).
We knew anecdotally that there was a demand for a project like this when we first announced this pilot back in November, but as word went around the mailing lists and social media channels of ASA, MPSA, and NWSA, we were thrilled and encouraged by the outpouring of enthusiasm. In total, we received about 90 applications from qualified academics for our 9-person pilot!
If the pilot is successful, we plan to continue running the program, opening it up to additional participants. In addition to the many great applicants for the pilot that we hope to be able to accommodate in the future, we also received many emails from people in other disciplines interested to participate when it’s opened beyond our three participating partner associations.
Our pilot cohort brings to this project a wide range of motivations: desires to use Wikipedia in the classroom, improve a resource students inevitably use, train academic peers to edit, participate in activism, have fun, and engage in public service, to name a few. While varying in motivations and subject-matter expertise, shared among these scholars is a passion for disseminating knowledge to the public and a commitment to ensuring available information is of the highest possible quality.
From the American Sociological Association:
Sine Anahita is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She sees Wikipedia as a potentially powerful tool to share sociological research with the public. Sine would like to improve articles about structures of masculinity, the alt-right and gender, working class men’s friendship patterns, rural lesbians, lesbian land movement, women’s sexualities, LGBT sexualities, and anything related to Alaska.
Bradley Zopf is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Carthage College. He plans to improve content related to contemporary and historical understandings of race, racism, prejudice, discrimination, and inequality, with a focus on the experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans in the United States. Bradley is participating as a Wikipedia Fellow to contribute to the accuracy of public knowledge in his areas of expertise, and because of the extent to which students rely on the site for learning about the world around them.
Michael Ramirez is Associate Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. His area of specialization is race, class, and gender stratification, and he is looking forward to Wikipedia Fellows as an exercise in public sociology, contributing to public knowledge of relevant social issues.
From the Midwest Political Science Association:
Royal G. Cravens, III is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Bowling Green State University. He is participating in this pilot to help improve the accuracy and inclusiveness of Wikipedia as an open educational resource – one which has the potential to open new data streams for the study of marginalized people at the same time as it acts as a resource for marginalized scholars. In particular, he plans to improve articles related to LGBT politics in the United States.
Madeline Gottlieb is a fourth year doctoral student in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis. She will improve articles about environmental issues, being sure to adequately capture the social science aspects of each issue, with particular attention to her research focus, fracking. One of her goals as an academic is to use her research to help improve access to information for people across the socioeconomic spectrum rather than in publications most people cannot access.
Nicole Kalaf-Hughes is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Bowling Green University. As Wikipedia Fellow, she will improve Wikipedia articles in her primary field of study, American political institutions. She is participating in this pilot to help improve the public’s ability to accurately filter and process current events by ensuring the quality of information available about the history and function of our institutions.
From the National Women’s Studies Association:
Jenn Brandt is the Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and an Assistant Professor of English at High Point University. Her interest in Wikipedia Fellows stems from her integration of Wikipedia into her teaching and her research interests in digital media. She will be contributing to articles on feminist media studies, feminist literary criticism, and contemporary women writers.
Michelle Gohr is First Year Experience Librarian at Arizona State University. She is looking forward to using her training as a librarian to contribute to the free and accurate distribution of knowledge globally, especially in topic areas like women and gender studies, LGBTQIA+ studies and history, American studies, American popular culture studies, sex and sexuality studies, speculative fiction, science fiction, and in particular the aspects of these subjects relevant to race, class, and gender.
Maria Velazquez is a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Department of African American and African Studies Department at The Ohio State University. She is interested to improve public understanding of current political events, placing them in the context of global conversations. In her classes, she uses Wikipedia talk pages to help students to understand discourse on controversial topics, and would like to use her time as a Wikipedia Fellow to give back to the community.
The project will run through April. We’re only just getting started, but if you want to follow our progress, check the Wikipedia Fellows Dashboard page. For more information about the pilot, see the Wikipedia Fellows page of our website.