Sarah Kreps, associate professor of government, and Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English, are the first Milstein Fellows in the Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity.
The program, launched last fall with a $20 million gift from the Milstein Family Foundation, is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and Cornell Tech in New York City, and the first undergraduate link between the Ithaca and Roosevelt Island campuses. It will offer a multidisciplinary curriculum to a cohort of 100 students, beginning with 25 students in the Class of 2022.
“Both Sarah and Jeremy have a passion for undergraduate teaching and advising,” said Amy Villarejo, professor of performing and media arts and faculty director for the Milstein Program. “All three of us are engaged in different approaches when it comes to thinking about the relationship between technology and the big questions that the liberal arts and sciences are asking.”
Kreps – whose research focuses on issues of international security, particularly emerging military technologies, U.S. foreign policy, alliance politics and arms control – said the need for technologists, humanists and social scientists to work together has never been more evident than it is today.
“What we’re seeing on the news every day, with Facebook and other tech companies, is that they are narrowly focused on maximizing their reach and their users, but they aren’t thinking about their work from a broader perspective,” Kreps said. “Tech companies can gain from having an understanding about politics, social sciences, ethics and philosophy, and we can gain from their cutting-edge perspectives on how the world works.”
Kreps has studied drones, their use in military and commercial applications and the legislative oversight of drones. She has also written on cybersecurity and cyberwarfare and is at work on a project related to the intersection of social media, foreign policy decision-making and outcomes.
“The Milstein students will come out of the program with an interdisciplinary understanding that we know is so necessary in the globalized world,” Kreps said. “These students will be able to bridge what have been these unbridgeable communities.”
Braddock specializes in the production and reception of literary modernism in the United States, and has interests in media studies and the history of material texts.
“There is no technology more important in the history of the world than the book,” Braddock said. “Milstein students will greatly benefit from studying the history of media and technology together with its cutting-edge innovations.”
Braddock’s book, “Collecting as Modernist Practice,” studies the way anthologists, art collectors and archivists competed over the form of modernism’s anticipated institutionalization in American museums and in the academy. His current work includes a book-length project on The Firesign Theatre; and an upcoming essay in Modernism/modernity examining the correspondence of Claude McKay and Nancy Cunard, which meditated on rapidly transforming conditions of global media before the Second World War.
Braddock is also leading development of Cornell’s media studies initiative, working with colleagues in humanities; communication; information science; and architecture, art and planning.
“It aims to be the most interdisciplinary media studies initiative in the country, ” Braddock said, “and will offer classes from hieroglyphs to hypertext.”
Along with advising students, the faculty fellows and Villarejo will design new courses, some solely for Milstein students and some for all undergraduates, and work on developing other aspects of the Milstein program, Villarejo said.
Students in the Milstein Program will spend their academic years on the Ithaca campus and spend two summers living and learning at Cornell Tech.
Villarejo said engaging faculty with a broad understanding of technology and humanity is important to the process.
“One of the things we want this program to do,” she said, “is attract both students who would be drawn to a major in the liberal arts and sciences, but not really thinking about themselves as tech folks, as well as tech folks who may not have thought about a major in the liberal arts and sciences.”
Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.