By: Kelly Homan Rodoski
School of Information Studies (iSchool) professor Milton Mueller will be named as one of the 2014-15 Laura and L. Douglas Meredith Professors of Teaching Excellence at a ceremony today.
Associate professor of practice Art Thomas will receive a Meredith Teaching Recognition Award.
A substantial bequest from the estate of L. Douglas Meredith, a 1926 graduate of The College of Arts and Sciences, allowed for the creation of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorships in 1995 to recognize and reward outstanding teaching at the University. The awards recognize and reward excellence in teaching, encourage faculty members to look upon the many dimensions of teaching as manifold opportunities for constant improvement, emphasize the great importance the University places upon teaching, and improve the teaching and learning processes on campus. The Meredith Professors receive a supplementary salary award and additional funding for professional development for each year of their appointment.
Mueller’s research and teaching explore the political economy of communication and information, and his passion for teaching is rooted in a desire to put knowledge about public policy, economics and technology to work in responding to and creating social change. “In the span of my career, the topic of information and communication policy has gone from being a tiny specialty to something that occupies space in the news every day, and has expanded academically into a dozen different subspecialities,” Mueller says.
Information and communication policy includes some of the most well-known controversies of our time, including cybersecurity, Internet filtering, copyright protection, the economic battle between Google and Apple and National Security Agency surveillance. “Teaching about these topics is fun, because almost everyone has opinions about them, but most people know very little about the underlying dynamics,” says Mueller. “… They usually lack the analytical tools required to sort out propaganda or interest group demands from real analysis and understanding. A well-informed scholar can leverage passionate opinions and controversy and transform them into deeper knowledge grounded in social science theories about politics, economics and institutions.”
Mueller uses the theoretical tools of property rights analysis, institutional economics and historical and quantitative social science methods. For the past 15 years his research, teaching and public service have concentrated on problems related to global Internet governance.
His books “Networks and States: The Global Politics of Internet Governance” (MIT Press, 2010) and “Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace” (MIT Press, 2002) are acclaimed scholarly accounts of the global governance regime emerging around the Internet. He currently directs the iSchool’s Internet Governance Project (IGP).
Most of Mueller’s teaching innovations and initiatives have been in the area of curriculum design. He revamped the curriculum for the graduate program in telecommunication and network management (TNM) during his tenure; developed the syllabus for IST 618, “Information Policy,” a popular course; and redesigned the capstone course for the TNM program (IST 754), making the course akin to a master’s thesis for network managers.
Mueller is known as a rigorous and dedicated teacher who sets high standards for his students. Endri Mataj, interim chief executive officer for Tmeeting Global AB India, took the IST 618 and IST 754 courses with Mueller and says the projects and discussions led by Mueller had a huge positive impact on his professional career.
“During both classes, I was able to deeply analyze high-level telecommunications issues concerning the respective national and international market,” Mataj says. “Professor Mueller had the ability to establish the right relations with the students, as well as convey his extraordinary professional experience to teach each and every one of us in the most effective way.”
Mueller’s Meredith project will focus on the area of cybersecurity and Internet governance, and combine curriculum design with outreach initiatives and experimentation with new teaching techniques. This includes designing an innovative program for a University-wide cybersecurity curriculum that draws on the strengths of several of the University’s schools and colleges. He will also design a global Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) on Internet governance.
“The questions Milton Mueller addresses in his research and teaching are not trivial. Indeed, they are complex and thorny,” says Barbara Kwasnik, professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the iSchool. “Thinking through problems such as this is a university’s mandate, but leading students to a place where they can think them through is the ultimate challenge, not easily attained in an era of quick returns and impatient consumption of information. The opportunity for students to have Milton Mueller’s guidance will be important for them and for all of us as well.”
Meredith Teaching Recognition Award
The Teaching Recognition Awards program was established in 2001 through an expansion of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorship Program. The Meredith Professors themselves proposed that the Teaching Recognition Award program recognize excellence in teaching by non-tenured faculty and adjunct and part-time instructors. Recipients are selected for teaching innovation, effectiveness in communicating with students and the lasting value of courses. To be eligible, candidates must have completed two years of service to the University and not yet received tenure. Each recipient is given $3,000 to further his or her professional development.
Thomas specializes in project management, IT management and financial systems. As the director of the master’s programs in information management and telecommunications and network management, he manages the content and sequence of these degree programs, including the master’s program in information management–executive track and related certificate programs. He also collaborates with other iSchool administrators in the areas of admissions, advising and career services that are relevant to these specific degrees and certificates.