LUBBOCK, TX — 2020. The start of a new year–a new decade–and this one feels a bit different than most. Sure, there’s still the course preparations and general nervousness and excitement that comes with a new semester just around the corner. There’s the list of projects yet finished from 2019, and a growing stack of new endeavors for the new year. Administrative documents, email checks, papers in review, and looking for calendar space to slot in those new year’s resolutions (these extra 20 pounds have to go, that’s for sure).
What makes this semester a bit different, is that I’ll be starting nearly 7500 miles away. Sure, I’ll still be wearing my Double Ts … but I’ll be doing so as the Fulbright Wu Jing-Jyi Arts and Culture Fellow, 2019-2020 at the National Chengchi University in Taipei.
Preparations are nearly complete. At NCCU, I’ll be teaching two graduate-level courses: one focused on Interactive Media and one focused on Media Entertainment. Both courses are being organized as part of NCCU’s International Master’s Program in International Communication Studies, or IMICS. I’ve had the honor of leading graduate seminars in other countries before as a guest lecturer (Belgium, Germany, and a previous experience in Taiwan), but this will be my first time as the instructor-of-record for a semester-long experience. Given my past experiences in Taiwan, I’m already looking forward to an intellectually rigorous semester — driven, dedicated, and remarkably devoted students, to be sure. =)
Alongside the teaching assignments, I’ll be working with long-time friend and collaborator Dr. Jih-Hsuan “Tammy” Lin — a fellow Michigan State Spartan. Tammy and I have worked together several times in the past (she’s even hosted me in Taiwan in 2015 and 2016), and a few examples of our collaborations:
- Banks, J. Bowman, N. D., Lin, J-H, Pietschmann, D., & Wasserman, J. (2019). The Common Player-Avatar Interaction Scale (cPAX): Expansion and Cross-Language Validation. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2019.03.003
- Lin, J-S., Bowman, N. D., Lin, S-F., Chen. S. (2019). Setting the digital stage: Defining game streaming as an entertainment experience. Entertainment Computing, 31. doi: 10.1016/j.entcom.2019.100309
For Spring 2020, and in coordination with her research assistants in the Media Psychology Lab at NCCU, we’re planning to investigate the various demands of augmented and virtual reality. Part of this work will be related to my own nascent efforts to understand how the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social demands of interactive media might influence how we use and are affected by the technologies. Below, a very rough model of the interactivity-as-demand concept, applied to video games. More information about our research plans is housed online in our Open Science Foundation project space.
This time next week, I’ll be settling into my apartment in Taiwan. We’ve already arranged for several visits, including some facetime with colleagues at HTC — a world leader in the development of AR/VR technology — as well as numerous other students and faculty at NCCU and surrounding universities. The J. William Fulbright program is a remarkable program, and it should remind us all that knowledge is collaborative, coordinated, and global. I’m so eager to see how we can jointly and individual grow over these next six months.
This blog? Expect a mix of personal and professional posts — discussions of academic culture and research findings from the Fulbright experience, but with any number of food and travel posts sprinkled into the mix. Without any question, expect so much food tourism this Spring…especially when I’m able to track down my favorite dumpling stand (pictured below, from a 2016 stroll around New Taipei City).
I have so many people to thank for this opportunity, and I hope that I can do their support justice over the next six months. At West Virginia University, my former chair Dr. Matt Martin and Lea Herron in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences offered critical support to my application — in particular, Lea’s early critical comments were singularly responsible for helping me refine the grant application. Drs. Sun-Joo Grace Ahn (University of Georgia) and Sven Joeckel University of Erfurt, Germany) offered critical support early in the process through their letters of support. At Texas Tech University, my current chair Dr. Robert Peaslee and many of our executive leadership (including Dean Dr. David Perlmutter and Associate Dean Dr. Amy Koerber) helped me with transitioning the Fulbright grant to TTU. TTU’s Office of Research & Innovation has been remarkably supportive of the program, including Drs. Abigail Swingen and Joseph Heppert, who arranged for a modest expect account to cover program travel and equipment costs. TTU President Dr. Lawrence Schovanec, in collaboration with TTU ORI, recognized my Fulbright at a Fall 2019 awards banquet, and this was so very much appreciated. Elizabeth Young, our administrative assistant in TTU’s Journalism and Creative Media Industries program, has been a true friend and colleague in helping me navigate the administrative burdens of international travel and purchasing; without her help, I’d be helpless. Ian Wilkinson and his crew got all of my technology ready for the trip, and Kristina McCravy and the rest of the Center for Communication Research have been helping me coordinate data collections in both Lubbock and Taipei — folks, Kristina is the absolute Queen of this work. Clara McKenney and her staff with CoMC Marketing have been restless in helping promote the program, and I’m eager to live up to the media footprint that they’ve left. Dr. Kent Wilkinson, the director of the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication, was quite helpful and encouraging me to pursue Fulbright, including sharing his own experiences in Chile. Without question, I’ll miss my CoMC family this Spring, but I’m hoping that this semester will open opportunities for us all! I’m sure that I’m leaving names off this list (Drs. Justin Keene and Asheley Landrum are simply fantastic lab-mates, and I suppose that Dr. Jaime Banks is pretty decent also 🥰), but I’ll still be e-involved in Lubbock this spring. My graduate students (Doctoral student Koji Yoshimura and Master’s student Lindsey Resignato) will be coordinating research while I’m in Taipei, and we’ve already got a full agenda.
Finally, my perpetual support group (Allison, Matt, Richard, Lindsay, and Robert) deserve so much credit for so many things, and this one counts as well.
For now? Packing. Resting and trying to shake a cold that lingers from 2019.
And learning how to write my name: 包尼克.
Practice makes perfect, right?