Alexander Campbell Halavais: PhD, 2001

Halavais

Dr. Halavais began as an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) directly after graduating from the UW Communications program. He now serves as the director of the MA in Informatics at UB, an innovative program that addresses the social and organizational aspects of information and communication technologies. His research looks at “social computing” and its impact on social change, journalism, education, and public policy.

Halavais’s dissertation at UW was on the impact of Slashdot and other early weblogs. While weblogs were not frequently discussed in 2001, they are now far more familiar, and Halavais is frequently interviewed as a blogging expert by the news media, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Mainichi Shinbun, Fast Company, ABC Radio, and dozens of others. The Online Journalism Revieww recently referred to Halavais as one of a number of new “blogologists” who seek to study the social impact of this new application of computer networking.

In addition to teaching on new information technologies, Halavais teaches communication theory at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also teaches a popular undergraduate course entitles “Cyberporn and Society” and has edited a reader by the same name that will be published at the end of this year.

Since leaving UW, Halavais has continued to work with graduate students in the program, publishing and presenting research together on the impact of personal web publishing on the political environment. He says of his decision to attend UW:Since leaving UW, Halavais has continued to work with graduate students in the program, publishing and presenting research together on the impact of personal web publishing on the political environment. He says of his decision to attend UW:

“When it came time to decide which graduate program to attend, I chose Washington for two reasons. First, the campus and the program provided for the kind of transdisciplinary work that would have been more difficult to accomplish in other programs. But second, and more importantly, I was attracted to the profiles of the other students in the program. It turned out that I was right in thinking that both of these factors would yield an interesting and challenging program. What I did not realize fully until I left UW, and had a chance to see how students were prepared in other universities, was the richness of the intellectual environment at Washington. The program, the university, and the city all invite a culture of discussion, thought, and creative action.

The faculty and students at UW are passionate about what they do. It was not unusual, when working into the wee hours, to find other students and faculty at the library or in the building to help you work through a problem. I recall working with fellow graduate students well past midnight one night in the communications building when the fire alarm sounded and we found ourselves out on sidewalk (until it was determined to be a false alarm). As ladder trucks arrived and firemen piled out we noticed the light on in an office where one member of the faculty was still working at her desk. We later learned she had called to complain about the noise. That sort of dedication leads to some of the best work in the field, and Washington enjoys a strong reputation because of it.

That passion for the work is balanced with a faculty and student body that is friendly, collegial, and collaborative. Seattle provides outstanding opportunities to get away from your studies, and the proximity of natural beauty and outdoor activities provides a great balance to the life of a student. While there is a single-minded dedication to excellence, the program attracts a diverse faculty and student body that embraces a broad set of cultures, ways of thinking, and experiences.

Where to attend graduate school was one of the more difficult life decisions I had to make, and I am convinced that my decision to go to UW was the right one. Not only has it prepared me for an academic career, it provided me with the uncommon opportunity to think about the deeper social questions, an opportunity that is sometimes lacking in other prestigious programs.”