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Faculty Spotlight: Jonathan Schroeder and the Kern Lecture Series

Faculty Spotlight

Jonathan Schroeder is the William A. Kern Professor in Communications at the College of Liberal Arts. As part of this position, he hosts the Kern Lecture Series, an interdisciplinary project that aims to bring leading scholars from other universities and organizations to RIT, in order to enhance both student and faculty experience. The goal of the Kern speaker series, says Schroeder, is to showcase innovative work on communication and its role in society.

Speakers at the Kern Series are what Schroeder describes as "dynamic researchers... who are doing distinctive, innovative, and cross disciplinary work". This year's speakers have come from a number of different institutes and fields of study. Two such speakers have included a marketing professor from City University of New York, who is conducting research about museum experiences and working as a fellow for the Rubin Museum in New York City, as well as a professor from University of Miami's School of Communication who studies advertising from a cultural point of view - she presented research on how gay and lesbian audiences respond to advertising that is aimed at them, and how such advertising serves ideological and even political purposes in a consumer society.

Recent Kern speakers included two world-class research psychologists, Allison Sekuler and Patrick Bennett from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The pair spoke on "Aging, Vision and the Real World". Their talk brought up a wide range of issues facing older people, presented their groundbreaking research into visual perception, and explored the ways that design and communication could be adapted to help older people cope with vision loss over time. Along the way, they provided a background of current issues in neuroscience.

Schroeder believes that students can benefit greatly from attending the Kern Series: "I hope the speakers inspire creative, original thinking in students and all those who attend. I also try to build an international component to the Kern series, as I think this is essential for understanding contemporary issues."

Going forward with the Series, Professor Schroeder plans to bring several speakers from both industry and the academic disciplines, including photography, science and technology studies, sociology, and communication.