Faculty Highlight: Kristin Scott

Dr. Kristin Scott
Dr. Kristin Scott

With extensive training across diverse media and disciplines, New Century College Professor Kristin Scott brings an unusual approach to her teaching and research. Scott helps her students to understand the complex fields of digital media and visual studies while challenging them to take risks and find unexpected angles and areas of inquiry. Her own research reflects this approach as she explores the relationship between people and technology.

Before pursuing her doctorate in cultural studies at George Mason University, she simultaneously completed two graduate degrees: one in creative writing from Columbia College in Chicago and the other in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Chicago. In her teaching and research, Scott said, “I’ve always seen myself as creative and scholarly. It’s hard to bridge that gap. . . In all my work, I see the intellectual side, but also the experiential or artistic side.”

Scott applied her understanding of digital media and visual studies in her dissertation that explores the integration of digital technology in three major cities: New York, Seattle and San Antonio. In conjunction with this research, Scott investigates many related issues including the collection and use of big data, the use of mobile apps, and the need to balance the positive aspects of technology with the potentially negative impacts.

Scott explained, “I have a love-hate relationship with technology. On the one hand I find it fascinating. On the other hand, having lived half my life without it; [technology] can be disruptive. This tension makes for great research.”

Just as Scott finds herself researching potentially controversial issues (the use of technology to profile neighborhoods or the mass aggregation of private information), so too does she encourage her students to take risks and explore questions they might not otherwise ask, and to reach out to their peers and learn from them.

Scott said, “If a student walks out of my course with more questions than answers, I’ve done my job. We’re here not to teach facts and figures, we’re here to teach students how to think.” 

Although Scott is carrying a full teaching load, she is also pursuing a variety of research projects and has been contacted by cities in the US and abroad for her thoughts about the integration of technology in urban settings.

Regarding her future research, Scott said, “Smart city initiatives and the ‘internet of things,’ is fascinating. Technology is happening so much faster than we can handle or process it…And, the same questions come up every time a new technology is introduced. A lot of what is happening is invisible, and we in the humanities need to be critical of the application of each new technology.”

This fall Scott is teaching NCLC 200: Visual Thinking and Creativity, NCLC 249: Digital Literacy and NCLC 348: Digital Futures. In spring, she will teach NCLC 103: Human Creativity, Science and Art.