Diversifying Wikipedia

Enhancing Online Education at Stony Brook

A collaborate project between faculty in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Writing & Rhetoric

Our students, like most people around the world, go to Wikipedia first for information. As a result, Wikipedia wields enormous power in creating knowledge for/about the world. Unfortunately, the content on this online compendium of information and knowledge suffers from well-documented gender bias. A 2011 Wikimedia Foundation Wikipedia editor survey indicated that only about 8.5-16 percent of Wikipedia editors are women, which has resulted in skewed content and a lack of coverage of notable women, among other issues. A diverse group of editors is essential to shaping this source of global knowledge. More and more academic institutions are hosting Wikipedia workshops to offer guidance and support for faculty, students, and community members interested in contributing to Wikipedia. In an educational institution as diverse as SBU, we want to demonstrate to our community that we can and should get involved in by creating a network of faculty and students with the skills to contribute to and edit the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and serve as teaching and learning resources for ongoing engagement in diversifying Wikipedia. Faculty and students at SBU can dramatically affect the most popular and important reference work in the world. Our goal is multiple:

1) to actively engage students and faculty in the important project of diversifying Wikipedia and, by extension, examining how knowledge is constructed as a result of bias;
2) to develop a structure and resources that incorporate Wikipedia writing and editing assignments into a range of courses; and
3) to bring academics into Wikipedia’s publishing system to improve the quality of knowledge within the site, and to give scholars a powerful public platform through which to share their expertise.

Kristina Lucenko is Assistant Professor and Director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stony Brook University. Her research and teaching interests include writing pedagogy, feminism, digital and graphic narratives, autobiography, disability studies, and service learning. She has published chapters in the edited volumes Service Learning and Literary Studies in English and Assimilation and Subversion in Earlier American Literature, and has an article forthcoming in English Journal.

Cynthia Davidson is an Outstanding Provost’s Lecturer and the Emerging Technologies Coordinator for the Program in Writing in Rhetoric at Stony Brook University. In 2015, she was part of a team that received an S-BOLD grant for WOLFIE (Writer’s Online Learning Forum and Information literacy Environment), a joint project between the PWR and Libraries at Stony Brook University. She has a PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an advanced certificate in composition studies from Stony Brook U., and fond memories of attending the first Digital Media and Composition program at Ohio State University.

Lisa Diedrich is Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and is affiliated faculty with the PhD concentration in Disability Studies in the School of Health Technology and Management. Her research and teaching interests are in critical medical studies, disability studies, and feminist and queer theories and methods. She is the author of Treatments: Language, Politics, and the Culture of Illness and her second book Indirect Action: Schizophrenia, Epilepsy, AIDS, and the Course of Health Activism is due from University of Minnesota Press this fall.

Victoria Hesford is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook University. Her research interests can be situated at the intersection of the interdisciplinary fields of American studies, feminist cultural studies, and queer studies, and focuses on how, and to what effect, political projects and movements are mediated through mass culture in twentieth and twenty-first century American culture. Her first book, Feeling Women’s Liberation, which offers a critical history of the rhetorical production of women’s liberation, was published by Duke University Press in June 2013. She has also published essays in, among other places, Women’s Studies Quarterly and Feminist Theory, and South Atlantic Quarterly.

Nancy Hiemstra is Assistant Professor of Migration Studies in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research analyzes global migration, immigration enforcement practices, ‘homeland security’ at the scales of home and community, Latin America, and feminist epistemology and methodologies. She has published numerous journal articles and chapters in edited volumes, and she is co-editor (with Deirdre Conlon) of Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention: Critical Perspectives (Routledge, 2016). Dr. Hiemstra teaches courses on gender, race, feminist perspectives, national identity, and immigration.

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