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About Bart Everson

Media Artist in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development at Xavier University of Louisiana

Download Conversation #74

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A conversation with Lisa Schulte-Gipson on service learning.

Dr. Schulte received her BS from Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA). She attended SUNY Albany where she earned both her MA and PhD in Social/Personality Psychology.

Dr. Schulte has worked at Xavier University since 1993. Throughout her tenure at Xavier she has served both the University and Department in many capacities. Her current research focuses on both the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL) and positive psychology (specifically as related to enhancing well-being among students).


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encrypt

Every time you visit a website, information is flowing between your device and a server out there somewhere. In the early days of the internet, most all that information was transmitted "in the clear," also known as "cleartext," meaning unencrypted. Cleartext, if intercepted, can be easily read. That means a third party could monitor the content you're accessing. That's kind of like someone knowing what books you've checked out of the library, and even what chapters you've specifically looked at. Creepy! Ain't nobody's business but your own. If that doesn't concern you, consider what happens when the data transmitted includes sensitive information like usernames and passwords.

That's why, in recent years, we've seen more and more sites serving content over a secure connection. The mechanics of these transactions are quite fascinating, but the important point is that the information flowing between you and the server is encrypted. If it's intercepted, it's going to be difficult for that mysterious third party to figure out exactly what content was being transmitted. In short, encrypted sites are much more secure.

Encryption is so easy and so valuable, in fact, that it's becoming the rule rather than the exception. Google (the most popular search engine) gives preference in its search results to sites that serve their content securely. Chrome (the most popular web browser) flags insecure sites. The web is in transition. Truly pervasive encryption is not here yet, but it looks like the way of the future.

CAT+FD got with the program last year. With some help from our friends in ITC, we started encrypting all content from cat.xula.edu. You probably never noticed, but that makes our site a little more secure than it was.

So how do you tell? How can the average user distinguish a site that's encrypted from one that isn't? ...continue reading "Just Encryption Part 1: Web Basics"

Download Conversation #73

A conversation with Cheryl Talley on what it means to be a Black scientist

Dr. Cheryl Talley is an associate professor in the department of Psychology at Virginia State University. She teaches Neuroscience in the Behavioral and Community Health graduate program and conducts research in student retention in STEM. Dr. Talley received her Bachelor's degree in Biopsychology from James Madison University and her Master's and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in Psychobiology. Having shifted her research interest from rats' brains to freshmen minds, Dr. Talley co-leads a team of graduate student and undergraduate researchers in examining affective factors associated with motivation in African American students with particular interest in science and math aversion.

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In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I'm launching a series of posts on the subject of encryption in service of social justice.

Detail from "Encryption Made Easy" (Bart Everson, 2016)

 

I've long been fascinated with encryption. As a kid, I thought codes were cool. As an adult, I see the value encryption offers for keeping my personal data secure.

But what, if anything, does encryption have to do with social justice?

Plenty.

I got my first inkling in 2016, just after the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land. Under the prior administration, the apparatus of the surveillance state was developed to levels previously unimaginable. Obama handed that system to Trump.

Of course, if you're not concerned about our own government spying on us, perhaps you're concerned about foreign powers. There's no denying that international cyberwarfare is real. There are also hackers and straight-up cyber criminals. Not to mention those big corporations.

Whoever's doing the snooping, the harm is felt disproportionately by marginalized communities — as is typically the case when power relations are manifestly unequal.

Rights must be understood and exercised in order to afford us any protection. That holds as true for privacy rights in the digital realm as it did in the analog era of the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, scholars have a special interest in freedom of inquiry, germaine to all those working in the field of education. Educating on these issues is aligned with Xavier's mission, and it's vitally important that our faculty and staff understand what's at stake.

As noted in a recent United Nations report, encryption is emerging as a keystone for human rights in the 21st century:

Encryption and anonymity, today's leading vehicles for online security, provide individuals with a means to protect their privacy, empowering them to browse, read, develop and share opinions and information without interference and enabling journalists, civil society organizations, members of ethnic or religious groups, those persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, activists, scholars, artists and others to exercise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Encryption is simply the practice of putting your data into a secret code so other people can't read it. It's an important tool for maintaining privacy and security online. Before the 2016 election, writing for TechCrunch, Steven Renderos and Mark Tseng Putterman observed that "for activists and people of color, strong encryption is essential."

In the days and weeks ahead, I'll be publishing a series of simple tips to help you get started using encryption more frequently. I'm far from expert myself, so I'll be learning as I go. If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to let me know.

Next up: Using Signal for secure text messaging.

Download Conversation #72

A conversation with Curtis Wright about Student Affairs.

Photo from Biz New Orleans

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Transcript:

Coming soon!

Download Conversation #71

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A conversation with Regan Gurung about the scholarship of teaching and learning.

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Did you know that New Orleans ranks #7 for the percentage of people who bike to work, amongst cities with over 250,000 residents?

And yet we could certainly do better by our bike riders, our transit riders, and our pedestrians. As I've argued elsewhere, bikeped safety is an issue of social justice and aligned with Xavier's mission.

I would like to invite the Xavier community to help with a special effort to "Connect the Crescent." I've been designated as the XULA Green faculty and staff volunteer coordinator for this effort.

(Get the PDF)

In September, Xavier volunteers will work to improve connections from Uptown to the Central Business District (CBD), the Lafitte Greenway to the French Quarter, and the Algiers Ferry terminal to the French Quarter or CBD.

Family-oriented biking and walking events will also be held with numerous opportunities for sharing feedback about the network from September through December.

Volunteers are crucial to making Connect the Crescent a success and there are many ways to get involved!

For more information, and to sign up for a volunteer slot, visit ConnectTheCrescent.com

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Download Conversation #70


A conversation with Laurie Ruettimann about the future of work.

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What does it mean to bring a contemplative approach to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning? That's the subject of an upcoming webinar from the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. ...continue reading "SoTL Webinar"

Download Conversation #69


Xavier students talk about Brightspace.

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