Students Examine Campus Surveillance
Students Examine Campus Surveillance

Guy McHendry, PhD, assistant professor of communication studies, wanted his students to examine the current surveillance culture, starting with Creighton’s campus.

In his introduction to communication studies course, McHendry’s students tackled the topic of surveillance and how it intersects with their daily lives. Students were asked to consider how surveillance affects marginalized populations, examining surveillance as government action, economic activity and personal practice. Using funding provided through an AEA (Assessment and Academic Excellence) Faculty Development Grant, “Stepping into the Map: Using Virtual Reality and Digital Mapping to Increase Experiential Learning Across Disciplines,” McHendry and his students brought those themes to bear using a combination of digital mapping and immersive photography.

This semester’s pilot map journaling project examined surveillance devices in and around five campus buildings. Students were required to produce an online interactive map journal that displayed the locations of surveillance. The map identified surveillance devices such as cameras or key readers, and then plotted them on a digital map. Students also took 360-degree photospheres that viewers would be able to navigate using computers or 3-D goggles.

“In this course, we talked about seeing communication in daily life. Map journaling lets students see content from class that they connect to, which in turn shapes their experience about what they perceived walking around campus,” McHendry said. “The course came alive for them, and this particular assignment was all about critical thinking, locating things around campus and problem solving. While creating the map, students described what was going on using digital humanities tools to show what they were learning. There also were points of analysis encompassing questions such as how do I present what I am learning and how do I show that to an audience.”

McHendry also enlisted Adam Sundberg, PhD, assistant professor of history, for this project. Sundberg provided guidance for students working with the mapping software. Sundberg’s students were working on their own project using historical data of Creighton’s campus for his 300-level Mapping History course.

“It’s a history of cartography, where half of the course is a survey of how people have mapped themselves through time, and the other half is an introduction to geographic information systems,” Sundberg said.

Sundberg employed a similar suite of technologies for this project.

“Using ArcGIS online as a tool, the students would go out with their 360-cameras and drones,” Sundberg said. “They were able to embed those images into the map, allowing for an immersive experience.”

Sundberg and McHendry see these as partner projects and McHendry spoke about the intersection of mapping and surveillance in Sundberg’s class.

For the end of McHendry’s surveillance class project, each student was required to give a short presentation that connected their surveillance log essay to their work on the group surveillance map project, as well as submit a brief written reflection of their contribution to the group project. 

View the interactive map.ccc