Faculty members named 2020-21 Freedman Faculty Fellows

The Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at Kelvin Smith Library has announced the selection of the 2020-21 Freedman Faculty Fellows. The program supports full-time, board-appointed, tenured or tenure-track faculty, and clinical research faculty at the rank of assistant professor or above. The fellowship aids these researchers in integrating digital tools and technology into their work across multiple disciplines to support learning and advance scholastic discoveries.

The program is generously funded by the Freedman Fellows Endowment, established by Samuel B. and Marian K. Freedman. This year, through a collaborative initiative of the university’s libraries to support campuswide digital scholarship, the fellowship program will include additional funding provided by the Cleveland Health Sciences Library, the Judge Ben C. Green Law Library and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ Lillian and Milford Harris Library.

Read about this year’s fellows and their scholarship below.

Increasing Utility of the Cleveland Food and Tobacco Retail Database

Photo of Elaine Borawski

Elaine A. Borawski is the Angela Bowen Williamson Professor of Community Nutrition in the Departments of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.  As the founding director of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) from 2009 to 2020, her project aims to make the Cleveland Food and Tobacco Retail Database, established by the PRCHN in 2012, more available to community partners and research collaborators. Her goal is to make the database more informative, accessible and user friendly for community organizations, public health officials and the research community interested in healthy food access in Cleveland.

Digital Stories of Cleveland Synagogue Dispersion: Moving Pieces of Congregational Life

Photo of Alanna Cooper

Alanna E. Cooper serves as the Abba Hillel Silver Chair of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies. In collaboration with the Freedman Center, Cooper will research the relationship between group identity and sacred material culture by examining the bits and pieces of synagogue buildings that congregations take with them when they leave their old structures to merge into or build new ones. This particular aspect of the study focuses on synagogues in Greater Cleveland and is designed to develop best practices for collecting, organizing and comparing data on a national scale.

Immersive VR in Training and Performance

Photo of Kevin Inouye

Kevin Inouye, assistant professor of movement, stage combat and acting in the Department of Theater, is a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors and the National Michael Chekhov Association, a SAG-AFTRA union performer, a fight choreographer and author of three books on the subject. Whether using masks, puppets, weaponry or other props, much of his scholarship centers on the intersection between performers and objects. Teaching stage combat and theatrical movement online has created a challenge during long-distance, solo training in physically interactive disciplines. Peers within the stage combat community have access to a few somewhat dated training videos and books. Even as an author, Inouye states that translating movement techniques into words is never quite adequate. 

Inouye’s project will investigate the potential for virtual reality (VR) training content, viewed through affordable headsets, as a solution to this problem. 

Being Difficult

Photo of Vera Tobin

Vera Tobin, associate professor in the Department of Cognitive Science, studies connections between cognition, language and narrative, with a special interest in cognitive bias and how people think about other minds.

For her project, she will discuss the place of uncooperative behavior in cooperative activities in a podcast titled “Being Difficult.” She will explore the idea that it is not always easy to be difficult. Behavioral experiments in cognitive science suggest that there are two big, enduring roadblocks to our efforts to be “cooperatively uncooperative.” People have a strong tendency to align many of their actions with other people, even when they don’t want to, and cognitive biases make it hard for us to know how difficult we’ve actually made it to see through our tricks. The project will focus on how people navigate these complex challenges in practice and how they shape interactions, relationships and creative endeavors, providing strategies to circumvent elements of their cognition that work against them. These strategies are observed as performances of applied cognitive science in the wild and will be discussed in her podcast, “Being Difficult.”