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Daniel Sui

Study shows limits of 'liberation technology' in advancing change

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The serious air pollution problem in China has attracted the attention of online activists who want the government to take action, but their advocacy has had only limited success, a new study has revealed.

Instead, much of the online conversation has been co-opted by corporations wanting to sell masks, filters and other products and by government officials advancing its own environmental narrative, the study finds.

Researchers at The Ohio State University analyzed about 250,000 posts on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter) that discussed the pollution problem in the country.

They concluded that online activists did force the Chinese government to take some actions to tackle the pollution problem. But they also found that business and government dominated much of the conversation and used it to their own advantage.

"Social media has been touted as a 'liberation technology' for citizens, but we found the story wasn’t so straightforward in China," said Daniel Sui, co-author of the study and professor of geography at Ohio State. "Along with the positive gains brought by social media, there were negatives.

Sui conducted the study with Samuel Kay and Bo Zhao, both graduate students at Ohio State at the time of the study. Their findings appear online (article available here) in the journal The Professional Geographer.

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Dakota Rudesill

Students in Mershon affiliate Dakota Rudesill’s National Security Law class this fall had an unusual assignment for their final exam: They participated in a two-day immersive national security simulation held November 14-15, 2014, at Moritz College of Law.

Stepping into the shoes of lawyers, policymakers, intelligence analysts, and reporters, the students dealt with a series of realistic national security crises ripped from the headlines. They had to apply law, policy and facts they had learned in class to navigate the simulation’s outcome.

The Ohio State University National Security Simulation explored decision making in federal executive and legislative branches at the intersection of law and policy regarding national security, under crisis conditions. It was an open-universe, dynamic, immersive simulation that moved in real time over 48 hours. Students had agency, and their decisions dictated outcomes for the story lines.

Participating in the simulation were Mershon Center faculty affiliates Peter Mansoor, who played the president of the United States, and Peter Shane, as well as Mershon graduate student affiliates Daniel Curzon, Rudy Hightower, and Will Waddell. Throughout the event, Rudesill drove the players toward particular issues and dilemmas.

Chief Judge James E. Baker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and former legal advisor to the National Security Council, gave the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of integrity and good process in decision-making.

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Geoffrey Parker

Prolific scholar Geoffrey Parker has done it again.

Parker — Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History, Distinguished University Professor, and Mershon Center affiliate — has another landmark book hitting the shelves this week.

Parker’s new biography of King Phillip II, Imprudent King: A New Life of Phillip II, published by Yale University Press, is the first biography to take advantage of a treasure trove of unidentified documents that Parker discovered in 2011 and authenticated in 2012. Parker is the world’s leading authority on King Phillip II.

The advance "buzz" for Imprudent King promises it may equal if not exceed the triumphs of his last book, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Castrophe In the Seventeenth Century.

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Daniel Sui

Mershon affiliate Daniel Sui, professor and chair of the Department of Geography, has been selected as a 2015 Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Sui will be affiliated with the Science and Technology Innovation Program and the China Environment Forum at the Wilson Center. His primary research will be how to use crowd mapping and citizen science to better address environmental challenges in China.