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Plagiarism on college campuses explored in ethics talk

March 9, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The differing ethical takes on plagiarism and academia will come to light during a talk Thursday, March 18, at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Susan Blum, professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and author of the book "My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture," will speak at 4 p.m. in Room 2028 of Brown Hall as part of the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's 2010 Lecture Series. Her talk is free and open to the public.

As one of the paramount academic sins or crimes, plagiarism has attracted attention from media, parents, college faculty and administrators. But there is much that is not obvious about it, raising questions about how it should be handled.

In her talk, Blum will suggest that one problem with plagiarism is that students and faculty regard it entirely differently. She puts the problem into the context of the origin of the norms of academic citation, grounded in Romantic ideals of individuality, which are changing.

Blum also will discuss the realities of student life in contemporary college and the varying goals for higher education in general held by different members of the academic community. If education is at least in part dialogue, she says, it is helpful to understand how to converse across a generational and occupational divide.

A cultural and linguistic anthropologist whose research focuses on China and the United States, Blum studies deception, truth, lying and cheating--mostly in the context of China, but also cross-culturally. She served for five years as director of Notre Dame's Center for Asian Studies and is author of "Lies that Bind: Chinese Truths, Other Truths," which explores truth and deception in China, and "Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication."

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2000, Blum is a faculty fellow in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and teaches courses on linguistic anthropology, psychological anthropology, China and food and culture.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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