UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Spring/Summer 2001
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President's Message

Leading the way in digital exploration

As New York State's most comprehensive public institution, the University at Buffalo has a deep commitment to the advancement of vibrant, creative interdisciplinary research. This commitment began early in the 20th century, when we took our first steps toward growing beyond a medical school by offering a complement of courses in the arts and sciences, underscoring the importance of a fully rounded liberal arts education and giving birth to the modern research university. Today, scholars in our College of Arts and Sciences work hand in hand with scholars in our 12 professional schools, exploring new collaborative possibilities for creative investigation. UB's researchers are transdisciplinary, working not so much to cross over traditional disciplinary borders as to transcend them in search of greater collaborative discovery.

In the 21st century, a new spirit of intellectual inquiry fuels humanities research. At UB, we regard research as an inherently creative endeavor: Taking this principle as our point of departure, we are leading the way in exploring the impact of new technologies on the study, practice and appreciation of the arts. Humanists working in disciplines ranging from poetry to anthropology to architecture have turned their attention to new digital technologies and to the ways they are transforming the objects, tools and methods of humanities research.

Digital technologies-the computer, the CD and the Internet-and the new kinds of textual, aural and visual activities that they make possible, are reinventing the ways in which scholars and practitioners approach their work and share it with others. The interactive, collaborative and fluid media created by digital technology challenge many longstanding concepts. No longer is the author conceived of as a solitary creative individual, nor the work of art considered a fixed and permanent monument. At the same time, digital technologies are enabling new kinds of archives and creating new resources for scholarship, teaching and the arts.

Integrating these wide-ranging assets, UB's Department of Media Study offers a master's degree in digital arts that blends traditional humanities research with technological training. Department of Media Study professors, who themselves represent a variety of disciplinary areas ranging from computer science to art history to music, are involved in compelling projects that break down conventional curricular boundaries while building up new collaborative opportunities for humanities scholarship. While our Department of Media Study has created a special focus for the exploration of the digital arts, the impact of the digital revolution can be felt across the university community. Here's a glimpse of what's happening at the crossroads of digital technology and the arts at UB:

Poets and scholars from Europe, Japan and Australia, as well as Canada and the United States, recently gathered in Buffalo when UB's world-renowned Electronic Poetry Center held "E-Poetry 2001: An International Digital Poetry Festival," the first interdisciplinary conference of its kind in the world. Featured writers read, performed and exhibited works that define the state of the art in digital poetries, while digital artists, scholars and electronic publishers joined in panel discussions about these evolving forms.

Through UB's Virtual Site Museum-a collaborative project that pools the assets of the Virtual Reality Laboratory, engineers and classics scholars-UB archaeologists can display images of their on-site research online and reconstruct long-vanished communities.

Anthropologists at UB have begun to apply digitized computer techniques in studying the surfaces of ancient stone tools, a revolutionary approach that promises to transfer to many different applications.

UB's School of Information Studies has been redefined as the School of Informatics to more aptly represent current advances taking place in the library sciences, particularly the profound impact of digital technology on the gathering, publication and communication of research and information.

UB's libraries feature digitized resources such as e-books, e-journals and e-newspapers with 24-hour-a-day online access; a resource called "Electronic Highways" offers Internet highlights that facilitate humanities research and scholarship.

Supported jointly by the Department of Media Study and the Center for Computational Research, UB's Integrated Digital Exploration in the Arts and Sciences Center (IDEAS) is an interdisciplinary program comprised of faculty from diverse disciplines committed to exploring intersections between computing technologies and the arts and sciences.

The University at Buffalo will host Digital Frontier: The Buffalo Summit 2001, November 2-3, 2001. This exciting event will examine the far-reaching impact of digital technology as manifested in the arts and sciences, medicine, education and various aspects of everyday life.

This is just a sampling of the initiatives at UB that explore the new digital frontier, a horizon that connects us with the global community and, in the process, helps us more fully serve our academic and regional communities. We invite you to explore these initiatives by visiting our UB website at www.buffalo.edu.

As we continue to push the boundaries of the digital frontier, we are also redefining the scope and range of our mission as a public research university. By implementing the latest advances in digital technologies with wisdom and vision, the students, faculty and staff in our UB community are teaming up in unprecedented ways, realizing new academic possibilities each day, poised for exciting growth in the years ahead.

William R. Greiner
President, University at Buffalo

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