DePaul University Academic Affairs > Initiatives > Innovation Through Collaboration > Featured Stories

Featured Stories

1. Reading Chicago Reading

Modeling Texts and Readers in a Public Library System

“Reading Chicago Reading,” submitted by John Shanahan (LASS) and Robin Burke (CDM), won a DePaul Collaborative Research Grant in Spring 2015. Thanks in part to that support, an expanded version of the project was awarded a Level II Start Up Grant from the National Endowment for Humanities Office of Digital Humanitities in March 2016. The expanded “Reading Chicago Reading” brings together four colleagues from across the university: Robin Burke (CDM), John Shanahan (LAS), Megan Bernal (University Libraries), and Antonio Ceraso (LAS).

“Reading Chicago Reading” is a digital humanities project that takes as its starting point the popular and much-imitated “One Book, One Chicago” (OBOC) program operated by the Chicago Public Library (CPL) since 2001. Each year (originally every six months), the library chooses one book around which to organize city-wide events, discussions, and other programming. The genesis of the project is the insight that the OBOC program acts as a repeating natural experiment—the books that have been, and will be, chosen can be thought of as probes into reading behavior at city scale. By bringing together Computer Science and Humanities research methods, the project promises new kinds of insight and new forms of data.

Reading Chicago Reading

The project is also a step towards further integration of the strengths of DePaul’s two campuses, as it brings together humanities, social science, and computing faculty with librarians on a project of interest to all involved. It joins methods from computer science, literary criticism, library and information science, GIS, sociology, and data mining, augmenting the established field of computer-assistend text analysis with longitudinal circulation data from the Chicago Public Library system and social medial adjuncts. Their hypothesis is that text characteristics, library branch demographics, and promotional activities are variables that can be correlated and then used to predict patron response to future OBOC titles. Ultimately they hope to create a set of tools for scholars and librarians to make large-scale reading behavior comprehensible and to help library services more responsive and more useful to library patrons.

Read more about this project at

2. Commercial Chinese Studies Minor

What is the Commercial Chinese Studies Minor?

The minor teaches functional skills and knowledge about business operations and their economic, social, and political contexts in modern China. This minor is a collaborative program, which requires students to take courses from at least three disciplines. Participating departments include Economics, Geography, Management, Marketing, Modern Languages, Philosophy, and Political Science.

The Demand for a Commercial Chinese Language Course

The first course in commercial Chinese at DePaul University was offered by Professor Li Jin in winter 2010. This class grew from a surging interest in China-related business practices as well as a recognition that the language used in business settings is different from that used in daily conversations. While preparing the course, Li Jin sought to make accessible to students the larger contexts in which business is initiated, negotiated, and completed in Chinese-speaking settings.

The Design of this Course

Li Jin also observed numerous courses in the Driehaus College of Business, and learned that most teach students how to understand and meet the needs of their target clients. The understanding that conducting business in a Chinese-speaking community demands multi-disciplinary knowledge and skills beyond the target language drove the development of the curriculum.

For more information on this minor, please contact Li Jin.

3. Digital Storytelling at DePaul

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital storytelling is a participatory media process for creating new media narratives. Digital stories—which are typically first-person videos, but may also be told with audio or photographs—are powerful and authentic testimonials, useful for education and advocacy. See an example digital story produced in a DePaul classroom/community partnership.

In higher education, digital storytelling has steadily gained momentum as a pedagogical and research tool over the last decade, with faculty worldwide training to become digital storytelling facilitators and bringing digital storytelling and its allied values of personal storytelling, participatory process, and affordable, do-it-yourself production methods into their classrooms and research. These links indicate the range of digital storytelling projects currently happening in universities:

How is Digital Storytelling Used at DePaul?

Numerous faculty and staff members across the university are already using digital storytelling and affiliated methods in their teaching and research, including Lisa Dush, an Assistant Professor in WRD (see a recent digital storytelling course), and Scott Kelley and Brian Cicirello of the Office of Mission and Values. The methodology used by WRD and Mission and Values is from the Berkeley-based StoryCenter, which has developed a facilitator-training model that aims to maximize the transformative potential of story for individuals, organizations, and communities.

The StoryCorps methodology, familiar to NPR listeners, is also in use at DePaul. Other DePaul projects that share values with digital storytelling include Greg Scott’s Sawbuck Productions and Nichole Pinkard’s Digital Youth Network, to name only a few.

Interested in Learning More?

No matter what the platform or method, digital storytelling can serve as a grounding practice for cross-disciplinary collaboration in teaching, research, and creative activities. We invite you to share your digital storytellign-related skills, interestes, and methods with colleagues across the university and to help build capacity at DePaul for digital storytelling "across the curriculum."

Lisa Dush (WRD) and Brian Cicirello (Mission and Values) will be offering Digital Storytelling workshops in Summer 2015. Stay tuned for further details.

For more information, please contact Lisa Dush. Lisa gave a presentation on Digital Storytelling at Collaboratory in 2015, and her slides can be downloaded here.

4. Visualizing Data with Geographical Information System

What is a Geographical Information System (GIS)?

GIS is a computer system (Geographic Information System) that solves location problems or specializes in handling geospatial data. Hwang pointed out that we can use GIS to virtually navigate the world (Google Earth), find directions (Google Maps), find properties for sale, map historical census data (Social Explorer), monitor vegetation conditions, map pollutions, detect archeological sites, conduct location analysis for retail, and much more.

Geographical Information System at DePaul

How is GIS used at DePaul?

Hwang used maps from recent faculty and student projects to illustrate the ways that data can be visualized using GIS to create maps that inventory (e.g., showing the availability of bike racks, or SRO housing), maps that inform (e.g., about the availability of food, English language instruction, or child care), maps that expose (e.g., the lack of Level I Trauma Centers in shooting hotspots across the city), and maps that explain (e.g., trace the relationship between homicide rates and locations).

Pictured above is Julie Hwang (Geology) delivering a presentation in the Collaboratory entitled "Using GIS to Visualize Data" in October 2015.

Interested in Learning More?

For more information, please see the DePaul Geography Department’s Map of the Month Project.

For More Information

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