Provost's Newsletter – October 2018

Focus on Faculty

Across Campus

Top (Left to Right): Hua Hua Chang, Charles R. Hicks Professor in the College of Education;
Julio Ramirez, Karl H. Kettelhut Professor in Civil Engineering;
Amit Varma, Karl H. Kettelhut Professor in Civil Engineering;
Chad Jafvert Lyles Family Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering

Bottom (Left to Right): Ayman Habib, Thomas A. Page Professor in Civil Engineering;
Ernest Blatchley, Lee A. Rieth Professor in Environmental Engineering;
Eric Munson, Dane O. Kildsig Chair in Industrial and Physical Pharmacy

Faculty, students mine C-SPAN historic data

Almost four decades of history is only a click away, thanks to the dreams of two Boilermakers: a graduate and a professor of political science and communication.

We know alumnus Brian Lamb's dream as C-SPAN Networks, which he founded to broadcast history as it happens at Congress, the White House, Supreme Court and public policy and government-related events. Now, all the video since 1987— over 245,000 hours of recording — has been archived and digitized and is online thanks to the vision and decades-long leadership of Robert X. Browning, Purdue professor of communication and political science. Even better, all 30 years of material is available for easy searching and streaming, courtesy of the C-SPAN Video Library, which Browning directs in the Purdue Research Park.

It's ideal for research, says Connie Doebele, managing director of the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement. It's part of the Purdue's College of Liberal Arts' Brian Lamb School of Communication thanks to the leadership of Marifran Mattson, head of the school.

"Whether you want to dive deep into congressional hearings on the Farm Bill, watch a key case argued before the Supreme Court, check testimony on net neutrality, or compare statements of six U.S. presidents on health care, it's all there unabridged and unfiltered," Doebele says. "Segments can be captured into a user's account, ready with a click to show to classes, conferences, board members or even the family."

Plans are to provide video instructions online showing how to use the multilayered filters on the powerful search engine.

Purdue faculty already are integrating the digital archive into their courses and research:

  • Associate Professor Kathryn Brownell in her class on the American presidency.
  • Clinical Associate Professor Natasha Duncan in her honor's class on refugees and forced migration.
  • Professor Robert X. Browning in his class on the U.S. legislative process.
  • Continuing Lecturer Jennifer Hall, in all sections of COM 114, Fundamentals of Speech Communication.
  • Jennifer Hoewe, who joined the Purdue faculty this year as an assistant professor of communication and media, and presented a paper on immigration for the center's fall conference.
  • Visiting Professor Peter Watkins in his two classes on constitutional law and U.S. government.

Watkins' constitutional law classes not only will learn from the video but also a book, “Landmark Cases,” that C-SPAN published to complement the series. Students will see examples of different kinds of speeches — persuasive, introductory, explanatory.

Doebele is helping the faculty with the data mining. She also is reaching out across campus to anyone who wants help or wants to submit ideas on how to enhance classes or research using the video 

"The filters make searching easy, scouring not only the tags but also the transcripts themselves, which appear below each video," she said. "Then you can click on a word and jump right to the section you want with each recording. "

The C-SPAN archives is working on adding facial identification as well.

"The Archives uses facial recognition to match time-stamped images with its database of 175,000 people who have appeared on C-SPAN," Doebele said. "The results are used to help identify who is speaking at a particular time. Closed-captioning text does not usually identify the speaker." 

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