Mellon Seminar Director Kendra Sullivan and Fellows Kristi Riley and Nga Than collaborated with Dr. Darshana Narayanan and Professor Matthew K. Gold to publish reflections on the Humanities for All blog about their work to apply the machine-learning platform Polis to gather and analyze data on a wide variety of pressing subjects including "student food insecurity and access on CUNY campuses, the twin crisis of racism and COVID in NYC public schools, and parent experience of pandemic response in Harlem." Using the the interactive and conversational format of survey creation and data collection provided by Polis, this team of researchers gives context on how this tool has been used to facilitate successful "deliberative democracy and participatory self-governance projects worldwide" and how they are putting this tool toward their collaborative research.

By not only inviting participants to answer questions but also comment on and add their own, the team frames this tool as "an opportunity to center the discipline’s creative and humanistic origins in ways that enhance empirical approaches to social phenomena while also pushing the boundary of research in the digital era." The team also writes about how they plan to apply this tool and their ongoing collaboration with the nonprofit that hosts Polis, The Computational Democracy Project, to develop their capstone project "a survey on the stakes, aims and existing infrastructural support for public humanities at CUNY," focused on "three targeted areas: scholarship-activism, the purpose of public higher education, and knowledge that centers lived experience."

Read their complete blog post here.


Kendra Sullivan

Kendra Sullivan is the director of the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research at the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she also acts as publisher of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Archive Initiative and...

Kristi Riley

Public Humanities Fellow
Kristi Riley is a second year PhD student in the sociology program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her studies focus on critical criminology, feminist theory, and popular culture, and she hopes to explore participatory action research. She holds B....

Nga Than

Digital Publics Fellow
Nga Than is a PhD student in sociology at City University of New York – The Graduate Center. Her research interests are in social media, computational social science, international migration, and sociology. As a mixed-methods scholar, she has conduct...