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March 27: Giler Humanities Lecture To Examine Opinion Polling, Survey Data and Public Perception


Kelli McElhinny                       

Carnegie Mellon's Giler Humanities Lecture To Examine
Opinion Polling, Survey Data and Public Perception

PITTSBURGH—During an election year in which the public is subjected to daily political polls, it's difficult to imagine a time when collecting such data was impossible. In Carnegie Mellon University's annual Giler Humanities Lecture, University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor of History Sarah Igo will explore the evolution and significance of this endless stream of data points and its role in fields ranging from consumer marketing to politics.
Igo will present her talk, titled "The Averaged American: Citizens and Statistics in the 20th Century," at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 3 in the Adamson Wing (Baker Hall 136). The lecture is free and open to the public.
Igo specializes in modern American cultural and intellectual history, the history of the human sciences, the sociology of knowledge and the history of the public sphere. She is the author of "The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens and the Making of a Mass Public," which won the President's Book Award of the Social Science History Association and was a Slate Best Books of the Year Selection in 2006.
Tim Haggerty, director of the Humanities Scholars program, first thought of inviting Igo when he read a review of "The Averaged American" in the New York Times Book Review. "This is exactly the kind of humanities research that we are interested in presenting - timely and topical work that also connects to the kind of research our own faculty is undertaking," Haggerty said.  "Igo's specialty ties in particularly well with the work being done on deliberative democracy at Carnegie Mellon and with research in the Department of Statistics, as well."
Sponsored by the Humanities Scholars program, along with the Science and Humanities Scholars program and the Department of Statistics, the Giler Humanities Lecture is funded by Carnegie Mellon alumni Kim and Eric Giler. Kim Giler earned a bachelor's degree in English and Spanish in 1978, and Eric graduated in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in industrial management.
The Humanities Scholars program is a rigorous, four-year interdisciplinary program open by invitation to applicants to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Besides taking seminars together throughout their undergraduate careers, the students have the option to live in the same dormitory cluster their first year in order to create a vibrant community of scholars.