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HI Faculty Fellow Spotlight: Ewa Plonowska Ziarek

November 23, 2020

Each month, we will feature one of the Humanities Institute Faculty Fellows and their answers to a short questionnaire. This month’s featured fellow is Ewa Plonowska Ziarek whose [Virtual] Scholars@Hallwalls talk, “A Crisis of Narrative and Judgement in the Age of Big Data” takes place on Friday, December 4th at 4pm.

What material(s) sparked your current project that you are now working on as a faculty fellow?

Assessment insanity! The shift from aspirational “goals” that we as a community of scholars and students hope to achieve to the rhetoric of “outcomes,” as if our students in the course, teaching practices, and intellectual materials we study were “raw data;“ the pedagogy—a bunch of algorithmic procedures; and the outcomes could be predicted in advance. I wanted to find out why “goals” became “outcomes,” why teaching got downgraded to “delivery methods” and why evaluation became assessment industry.

What has been a source of entertainment these past months as we deal with coronavirus? Any specific recommendations (books, podcasts, film/tv, etc.)?

Watching egrets, ospreys, king fishers (now all gone to warmer climates); admiring the soaring audacity of eagles 🦅 who still remain here, listening to the sardonic laughter of ducks, especially when I am worried, and being inspired by the ruckus of thousands of wild geese! This is the time to explore, discover, and admire great outdoors in our own backyards.

What is your favorite place outdoors in WNY?

Iroquois National Wild Life Refuge! These acres and acres of marches, woods, trails, and meadows and their inhabitants continue to provide a sanctuary for me, my friends and family during this epidemic.

Is there a UB colleague whose research or work you think others should know more about?

There are so many of people at UB whose scholarship creative activities I wish I had more time to read and ponder. Thanks to HI each year I am discovering more colleagues from whom I can learn.

Originating as a 19th century parlor game, popularized by Marcel Proust’s responses, pick a question from the so-called “Proust Questionnaire” to answer.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

The word I overuse most is “precisely,” which I use precisely when I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Our thanks to Ewa for sharing with us! Ewa suggests dark chocolate covered almonds with a cup of hot tea to accompany her talk. For more information about Ewa and the rest of the 2020-21 HI Faculty Fellow cohort, please visit our Faculty Fellows page.