Faculty Early Tenure and Promotion: A.J. Faas

A.J. Faas

A.J. Faas
(Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

A.J. Faas

Early Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor

Years at SJSU: 4

Department: Anthropology

RSCA focus: Disasters, environmental crises, and displacement and resettlement, with a focus on the historical production of vulnerability, postcolonial practice, social memory, and community organizing and social support. His research has primarily been in Latin America, with some work conducted in the American northwest and the San Jose area.

Associate Professor A.J. Faas’s work in post-disaster resettlements in highland Ecuador has led to several recent publications including a study on reciprocity and vernacular statecraft and one on  the conversion of peasants into “entrepreneurs.” Closer to home, he has studied wildfire responses in the Pacific Northwest.

In his time at San Jose State University, Faas has also enjoyed planning and organizing his department’s annual AnthROX! event.  It is one part party with refreshments and live music, one part expo of the best of Applied Anthropology at SJSU, with multimedia exhibits and “Ignite Talks” by graduate students, alumni, and emeritus faculty.

As a first-generation student himself, he encourages anthropology majors to get involved beyond their classrooms.

“My entire career began nearly two decades ago when I shyly walked into my department chair’s office and asked if there was a way for me to get experience working on a real study,” Faas recalls. “He got me working that day, and I’ve never looked back.”

Note: Congratulations to the 43 faculty members who received tenure and/or promotion for 2017-18. We have invited each faculty member to participate in a series of posts profiling their teaching, service, and research, scholarship and creativity activities. Those faculty who opted to participate will be featured throughout the fall semester on the Academic Spotlight blog and the digital sign in the Administration Building lobby.

February 2018 Newsletter: SJSU Professor Shares Insight on SV Culture in Documentary

Photo: James Tensuan Dr. Jan English-Lueck will be featured in a three-part documentary on Discovery's Science Channel in March as an expert on Silicon Valley culture.

Photo: James Tensuan
Dr. Jan English-Lueck will be featured in a three-part documentary on Discovery’s Science Channel in March as an expert on Silicon Valley culture.

By David Goll

A San Jose State University professor considered one of the leading experts on the unique culture of Silicon Valley will be prominently featured when the small screen takes a close look at the world’s birthplace of high tech.

Dr. Jan English-Lueck, a professor of anthropology at SJSU since 1991, is part of “Silicon Valley: The Untold Story”, a three-part documentary series premiering March 19 on Discovery’s Science Channel. Produced by Michael Schwartz for Menlo Park-based Kikim Media, the series will examine how the agricultural region once world famous for vast reaches of fruit orchards — known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” — became fertile territory for technological innovations and sprouted such household-name corporations as Intel, Apple, Google and Facebook.

English-Lueck is among the Valley’s Who’s Who of interviewees for the program, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Heidi Roizen, entrepreneur and tech executive Kim Polese, journalists John Markoff and Michael Malone, and high-tech historians Leslie Berlin of Stanford University and Margaret O’Mara of the University of Washington.

History plays a big part in the program, as the series will sift through 150 years of the region’s history.

The program’s debut comes just a few months after English-Lueck’s second edition of her famed book about the region, “Cultures@SiliconValley, was published last summer. Her 2,000 hours of research included spending a year with local families to assess the impacts of the industry and its products on local life. The book’s first edition appeared in 2002.

English-Lueck’s participation in the television project dates to 2014, when she underwent three hours of interviews at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Afterwards, she heard nothing more about the program until December, when she received an invitation to attend the series’ premiere at the museum in January.

“I sort of forgot about it,” she said with a laugh during a recent interview. “It was a surprise to get the invitation. I’m one of the talking heads.”

English-Lueck, who spent several years as associate dean of the College of Social Science before returning to teaching in 2014, was hired 27 years ago to delve into and explore Silicon Valley as a cultural phenomenon. She has become a popular interpreter of the region’s social fabric and its powerful societal impacts.

“I get calls from throughout the world, including recently from the BBC,” she said. “Silicon Valley has developed its own cultural identity over the years. It has its own way of life and exported it to the entire world.”

English-Lueck, also a fellow at the Institute of the Future, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit research organization, said Europeans especially are both fascinated and repulsed by Silicon Valley.

“They find it distasteful people here can’t compartmentalize their lives, they’re always connected to technology and every social interaction is viewed as a way to get ahead professionally and socially,” she said.

Dr. Roberto Gonzalez, chair of the Department of Anthropology said he was thrilled to hear of his colleague’s involvement in the series and “delighted, but not surprised” about her book’s second edition.

“It has become a modern classic in the field of anthropology,” he said. “Very few ethnographies have such lasting relevance or maintain such interest.”

Gonzalez said English-Lueck’s expertise is renowned.

“Jan is among a small handful of social scientists who have gained keen insights into the workings of Silicon Valley’s diverse cultures, not just the ‘tech culture’ of engineers and programmers, but the cultures of immigrants, working people and families,” he said.

He described SJSU’s relationship with Silicon Valley as “complicated.”

“On one hand, SJSU students who want to work for the industry often have great success in finding positions with companies like Google, Facebook, Adobe and the rest,” he said.

But, he said the tech industry has been justifiably criticized for its lack of diversity.

“The vast majority of top positions are filled by graduates from Ivy League schools or Stanford, not San Jose State and other public universities,” he said.

CommUniverCity Honored by APA

Using a map of the neighborhood, profesor Rick Kos leads youth through an exercise that helps them identify neighborhood assets and constraints. Photo by Dayana Salazar

Using a map of the neighborhood Rick Kos, an SJSU lecturer and practione-in-residence, leads youth through an exercise that helps them identify neighborhood assets and constraints.
Photo by Dayana Salazar

The California chapter of the American Planning Association awarded San Jose State University’s CommUniverCity program an Academic Award of Excellence for the Greater Washington – Voices of the Community neighborhood planning project in July. The planning project was previously recognized with the American Planning Association’s California Northern Chapter Academic Award in June and will go on to compete on the national level.

The project was overseen by CommUniverCity with support from faculty members and instructors in the departments of Urban Planning, Anthropology and Spanish. Classes included H. Fernando Burga’s fall 2013 URBP 201, Richard M. Kos’ spring 2014 URBP 203, Chuck Darrah’s fall 2013 ANTH 149 and Damian Bacich, whose students provided the Spanish translation of the report from English.

SJSU affiliates worked closely with city officials, Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center and neighborhood partners such as Mamas Unidas, Sacred Heart of Jesus Community Parish, Community United San Jose and Catholic Charities in reaching out to community members.

Through personal conversations with community members, the report found that residents had five priorities for their neighborhood:

Fostering healthy lifestyles

Improving walkability and pedestrian activity

Supporting information retail

Promoting affordable housing

Identifying the needs of middle school students

Faculty Notes for February 2016: Publications, Quotes and More

Aaron Romanowsky

Aaron Romanowsky has been named a 2016 Cottrell Scholar.

Department of English and Comparative Literature Lecturer Sally Ashton and Professor Persis Karim were among the featured poets reading at a reception on Feb. 7 for the San Jose Quilt Museum’s “Earth, Water, Air, Fire” show. Ashton and Karim read ekphrastic poems specifically created for the exhibition and inspired by the fiber art on display. Ashton’s most recent poetry collection is Some Odd Afternoon (BlazeVOX 2010). Karim is co-editor of and contributor to Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers (University of Arkansas Press 2013).

Lucas College and Graduate School of Business Professor Emeritus Alvin Beckett, who taught at SJSU for more than 30 years, celebrated his 100th birthday on Feb. 10. His daughter, UC Davis Professor Dr. Laurel Beckett, reports: “Dad was a feminist and fighter for social justice for students and colleagues of color. Just one story: in the late 1950s, one of his top students got married and became pregnant and was going to drop out of college. My dad told her she needed to stay in school and helped her work out finances and childcare. She went on to graduate, get her master’s and have a very successful career. The baby boy grew up to be a doctor and he and his wife (also a doctor) are colleagues of mine here at UC Davis Medical School. Our families have stayed friends all these years.”

Professor Alison Bridger, chair of the meteorology and climate science, assured CBS SF Bay Area reporters that, despite a run of dry and warm weather this month, El Niño is still influencing weather patterns on the West Coast. The rain will return and, once it does, it will continue into April, Bridger explained. Regarding February’s mild spell, Bridger said she’s “telling all my friends: ‘Enjoy it while you can.’”

Professor Richard Craig, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, appeared on KGO Radio’s “Ronn Owens Show” to talk about the presidential primaries and his most recent book, Polls, Expectations and Elections: TV News Making in U.S. Presidential Campaigns (Lexington Books 2014). In researching the book, Craig analyzed transcripts of “CBS Evening News” broadcasts during the presidential election campaigns, 1968-2012.

Professor Emeritus Larry Gerston, political science, was guest speaker at Los Altos’s Morning Forum lecture series this month. His topic: “The 2016 Election: Why We should Care (and Why Few People Do).” Morning Forum series subscriptions are available to all. The lectures take place at Los Altos United Methodist Church on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

Chair and Professor of Anthropology Roberto Gonzalez was featured on BBC’s Radio 4 on “From Savage to Self: Anthropology Goes to War,” on Feb. 1. Gonzalez discussed Cold War anthropology. “These areas were battlegrounds for ideas and the hearts and minds of people during the Cold War,” said Gonzalez, of Latin America, the Middle East and South East Asia, during the interview.

School of Information Associate Professor Lili Luo received the 2016 Association for Library and Information Science Education’s Best Methodology Paper award for a paper she co-authored titled “Vignettes: Implications for LIS Research.” The award carries a $500 honorarium and the opportunity to present a summary of the paper’s findings at the annual ALISE conference.

In January, former Assistant Professor Ralph McLaughlin, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, was promoted to chief economist of Trulia’s Housing Economics Research Team. He left academia in 2014 to join the company, an online home shopping marketplace. “As an economist and long-time house hunter, I understand what buyers, sellers and renters care about and why they need to know to successfully navigate today’s polarized housing market,” McLaughlin said. “Under my leadership, Trulia will continue to explore the growing divide between the ‘Costly Coasts’ in the booming West and Northeast markets versus the ‘Bargain Belt’ in the sluggish South and Midwest markets. It’s a trend that has important ramifications for the U.S. economy and housing policy.”

Professor Aaron Romanowsky, from the physics and astronomy department, has been selected as one of 24 scientists to be recognized as a 2016 Cottrell Scholars by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. He will receive a $100,000 to support his research and teaching. He is one of two CSU professor to receive the distinction since its inception in 1994. His most recent research article “Satellite accretion in action: a tidally disrupting dwarf of spheroidal around the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 253” was published in December 2015 in

Associate Professor Ryan Skinnell, who joined the faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature last fall, received the Theresa J. Enos Anniversary Award for the best essay published in Rhetoric Review in the preceding year. His essay, “Who Cares if Rhetoricians Landed on the Moon? Or, a Plea for Reviving the Politics of Historiography,” appeared in the journal’s April 2015 issue. His new book, Conceding Composition: A Crooked History of Composition’s Institutional Fortunes, will be published in September by Utah State University Press.

Communications Studies Professor Matthew Spangler received the top paper award in performance studies from the Western States Communication Association in San Diego in Feb. 28. He presented his paper, “Fall and Recover: The Making of Modern Dance with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Dublin, Ireland” about refugees who are working in the performing arts in Ireland, and specifically, are making live performances inspired by their migration experiences.