Faculty Focus: Andreá Livi Smith Teaches, Learns, and Lives By Design

DTLT Today: Episode 109 – Andreá Livi Smith from Jim Groom on Vimeo.

It’s finals week and everyone is slammed for time right now on campus, but Historic Preservation professor Andreá Livi Smith was still generous enough to sit with me for a half hour and talk about the work she’s done as part of the Domain of One’s Own faculty initiative and beyond. Andi is a remarkable faculty member, and she is behind some of the most exciting work happening at UMW right now. She not only blogs like it’s her job at Digital Bridging, but she’s also designed a brilliant homepage for her courses, research, and social media presences, something we explore at length in this video.

We also talk about the work she has done with Martha Burtis designing a database on UMW Blogs called Surveying the Burg. This site enables students to survey houses from around Fredericksburg on smart phones from the field. It’s remarkable in that it starts to demonstrate just how much more than a blog  this open source, relatively simple software can be—namely, a fullblown research resource that undergraduates help build and populate.

We finished up the conversation talking about Plunked!—a board game Andi and her students designed that teaches you about the principles of preservation planning. The work they’ve done is pretty remarkable, and it gets at a broader theme Andi touched on throughout the discussion. The importance of design in the work she does not only around urban planning, but also the crucial role it plays in her teaching, computing, and her life more generally. For Andi, the design of spaces both online and off frame one’s relationship with others in so many different contexts beyond the purely professional, and the way in which she truly lives her identity ebulliently across all of those domains makes her so compelling as a professor, researcher, and colleague, but more than all of those, as a person. She’s an inspiration!

About the Series

This is the fourth episode in an ongoing series focusing specifically on the amazing work faculty at UMW are doing with teaching, learning, and research as it intersects with technology. You can see my previous discussions with UMW’s humanities librarian Jack Bales on his Chicago Cubs research, as well as a conversation with English professor Marie McAllister (episode 107) about mastering ehr own domain. I’m still editing a fascianting back-and-forth I had with Political Science Steve Farnsworth (episode 108) about building his online presence through Domain of Ones Own—that will be published shortly.