Main content for "Month: January 2018"

Please join us in Athenaeum Classroom for the next STS Seminar Series talk:

Friday, February 2
Professor Jacob Lahne
Department of Food Science and Technology (VT),
“Taste Objects: Making Sensory Knowledge in Food Science.”

Snacks and conversation to begin at 1:00. Josh Earle will handle your WebEx requests.

“Taste Objects: Making Sensory Knowledge in Food Science,” Jacob Lahne

The sensory experience of our daily sustenance, in much of the post-Enlightenment scholarly community, has not often been considered particularly important for close study. While food and drink have been the object of study of different disciplines for many reasons – their cultural significance, their nutritional capacities, their basic availability, and so on – their sensory
properties have largely been neglected, considered either irrelevant or inaccessible. It is in this void that a few strains of industrial research have developed to accomplish this task – but only for a specific purpose and audience. Sensory science and flavor chemistry, areas of food-science research, purport to document, through a variety of techniques, the intrinsic sensory properties of foods for the development and marketing of new products by the food industry. The ontological and epistemological concerns having to do with sensory experience of other disciplines have failed to impinge on these researchers; “if there is no accounting for tastes, that’s news to the accountants” (Shapin 2012:179). In the absence of interest in sensory experience from other areas, these industrial researchers have come to define how we know about alimentary sensory experience. In this talk, I examine the ways in which food-science has developed tools for rendering subjective experiences of taste as objective, portable knowledge; how these methods are contingent on the industry from which they develop and to which they largely respond; and how these tools might be reimagined as more “maximally objective” scientific methods, to adopt Sandra Harding’s terminology. As other disciplines begin to recognize the critical roles that sensory experience of food and drink play in our lives, the uncritical adoption of these sensory sciences without a deeper investigation of their disciplinary history and assumptions may have real and concerning consequences.

Athenaeum will once again host the STS Seminar Series this semester. Please join us!

Jennifer Lawrence
The Global Forum on Urban & Regional Resilience (VT)
Friday, January 26



Deepwater drilling, hydrofracking, and strip mining of tar sands have become routine forms of extraction. Such extreme energy development requires intensified methods, complex technologies, and precarious terrains as easily extractable carbon has become increasingly scarce (Tompt, 2013). The normalization of extreme energy processes, and their ruinous consequences, signal the age of “Tough Oil” (Klare, 2007), a term that specifies this regime of extraction. Alongside the development of these hard-to-reach fossil fuel resources, acute environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and the Dilbit disaster have also become commonplace. The dangers of extreme energy development have recently materialized in the form of: oil train explosions and spills, pipeline leaks, earthquakes tied to fracking, and water sources contaminated with extractive waste material. But, the danger of extreme energy is not confined to explosions or leaks; there are many cascading effects for human and ecosystem health. Examining the simultaneous production of vulnerability and rhetoric of security, this talk offers insight into the contradictory logic governing extreme energy. I argue that the era of extreme energy has created new vulnerabilities that necessitate resilient subjects on a number of registers, from individual to societal. The Canadian tar sands in Alberta, as a major oil producing region, provides insight into the biopolitical realities that attend the end of easy oil, e.g. catalyzing climate change and the manifestation of tentacular socio-environmental consequences like displacement, adverse health effects, and loss of biodiversity. This presents a situation whereby the effects of extreme energy production appear predetermined and uncontestable, and requires citizens, communities, and ecosystems to be resilient.

Virginia Tech is one of nine founding members of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, a pilot program focused on publishing new, openly licensed textbooks. The program was launched by the Open Textbook Network (OTN) and aims to increase open textbook publishing experience in higher education institutions by training a designated project manager at each institution and creating a network of institutions.

The Cooperative is a three-year pilot that will establish publishing workflow and processes to expand the development of open textbook publishing in higher education. As a member, Virginia Tech’s project managers, Corinne Guimont (Digital Publishing Specialist) and Anita Walz (Open Education, Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian), will gain expertise in project management and technical skills. After the training is complete, a minimum of three open textbooks will be published using the model and tools gained through the cooperative.

“We at Virginia Tech are excited to join the Co-Op because of the opportunity for learning and professional development within a cohort of other institutions,” said Anita Walz. “We will have access to additional technical expertise, workflows, and tools, so that we can create and share more open textbooks with the world.”

Virginia Tech’s involvement in the Publishing Cooperative builds upon previous open textbooks published in the library, including Fundamentals of Business by Stephen J. Skripak and a newly released Beta Version of Electromagnetics by Steven W. Ellingson.

At the completion of the three-year pilot, the Publishing Cooperative as a whole will publish at least two dozen new, freely available, textbooks with Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licenses.

If you are Virginia Tech Faculty and interested in publishing an open textbook or other educational resources with Virginia Tech please visit

Founding members of the OTN Publishing Cooperative include: Miami University, Penn State University, Portland State University, Southern Utah University, University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Virginia Tech, and West Hills Community College District (CA).

About the Open Textbook Network: The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community working to improve education through open education, with members representing over 600 higher education institutions. OTN institutions have saved students more than $8.5 million by implementing open education programs, and empowered faculty with the flexibility to customize course content to meet students’ learning needs.

Thursday, January 25

Athenaeum Classroom (Newman 124)

Remarks begin at 3:30. Speakers:

Tyler Walters, PhD
Dean, University Libraries and Professor

Sylvester A. Johnson, PhD
Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities
Professor of Religion and Culture

Tom Ewing, PhD
Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Professor, Department of History

Refreshments served.

Here in the monthly journal highlights we point out instances of fine scholarship from both the past and present. This is like the greatest hits from our stack of locally published and archived scholarly journals.

One additional highlight we want to point out this month is the official launch of Community Change on the Ubiquity Press publishing platform. Check it out!

Need more information about the publishing services we offer? Check out our website or drop by Newman Library Suite 420.

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Relationships Between Access to Mobile Devices, Student Self-Directed Learning, and Achievement
Hot off the virtual press from the Journal of Technology Education. How does instant access to the internet impact learning experiences?


A Bellwether for All Library Services in the Future: A Review of User-Centered Library Integrations with Learning Management Systems

What do users really need from a learning management system? From Virginia Libraries.


The Hero Roland and the Question of Intentionality

From the archives of Electronic Antiquity.


Aerogel Fabrics in Advanced Space Suit Applications
Planning for space travel from the Journal of Undergraduate Materials Research.


KEEP UP THE FIGHT Eudora Ramsay Richardson and the Evolution of Feminism After Suffrage

From the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review.


“The Nigh and Best Way”: The Early Development of Roads in Montgomery County
A little something close to home from the Smithfield Review.


Fueling the New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration & Racial Bias
Discussion of Michelle Alexander’s book, brought to you by Philologia.


Black Feminist Thought and why it Matters Today
Concerning Patricia Hill Collins’ book, Black Feminist Thought. From SPECTRA, the ASPECT journal.

Evaluation of a Nuclear Energy Production Technology Program
From the Journal of Technology Studies, this study investigated the perceptions held by key individuals within the energy industry involved in the development of an Energy Production Technology degree program at a Midwest community college to help address the need for qualified workers for the local nuclear power plants.


Vibrio anguillarum and V. ordalii Disinfection for Aquaculture Facilities
From the International Journal of Recirculating Aquaculture.