With the American presidential campaign in full swing, it’s an optimal time for a communication studies professor who researches social media to be in the United States. Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Alcides Velasquez is spending the semester teaching and conducting research on social and political activism on social media, and their individual and collective outcomes. The assistant professor from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia, is teaching minority representations in the media and Communication and the Internet.
Finding collaborators was one of his goals in coming to Lawrence. Velasquez is planning two research projects with School of Journalism and Department of Communications faculty. The projects are still being defined, but the journalism project should focus on how people are discussing immigration on Twitter during the presidential primaries. How Latinos and non-Latinos use social media and if that translates into more meaningful political interaction. In the preliminary stages of the project, Velasquez and his collaborators are deciding what kind of data to collect and what Twitter hashtags to monitor. They are looking at “just regular users” who use hashtags related to the topic of immigration and illegal immigration.
Valesquez likes the university culture, where faculty are focused on teaching and research, “pushing the boundaries of knowledge.” In contrast to Columbia, where time is more flexible, class starts on time, and faculty meetings last as long as the scheduled time.
A requirement of being the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor is giving a public lecture. Valesquez will present “Follow Us: Understanding Social Media Individual and Collective Political Participation and Activism” at 3:30 p.m., October 28, in The Commons of Spooner Hall.